Did you know that I used to spend $800 per month on groceries? It’s true. Back when I was in school and living in the city, my fiance and I bought most of our food from the farmer’s market, and together we easily dropped $200 a week on groceries.
I wasn’t really tracking my expenses at that time. I only paid enough attention to my finances to make sure I didn’t run out of money at the end of the month. Other than that, I spent everything I had, and most of that went to food.
Since then, I’ve cleaned up my grocery budget significantly. I now spend about $400 per month for two people. We implemented a lot of changes in our grocery shopping habit to save this kind of money, but one of the biggest things we did was go to war on food waste. The biggest battleground was easily our refrigerator.
When I used to go to the farmer’s market in the heat of summer when vegetables were in season, I couldn’t help myself. I’d get a head of lettuce, spinach, celery, some zucchini, maybe some broccoli. I’d then spend the next couple of days making healthy meals with a few of those ingredients. I’d always make too much, thinking I’d have the leftovers for lunch.
This led, every week, to half of the vegetables I’d bought going bad, and the other half sitting as leftovers in the fridge and eventually expiring. I’d then toss the whole lot out at the end of the week and start over.
It was a bad system, I realize that now.
Nowadays, I’ve kicked my veggie hoarding habit. I still visit the farmer’s market regularly, but I’m more sparing with my purchases. I’ll still buy staples like potatoes, onions and apples as necessary, since they’ll all keep for awhile. With other, more perishable fresh vegetables, I’m careful not to buy too much. Where I used to buy three or four different types of fresh vegetables, I’ll buy one. Usually it’s a bag of spinach and a single type harder veggie, like celery, broccoli, zucchini or leeks. Then I’ll make it my priority to use that one veggie completely before it turns. When it’s gone, I’ll get more, but not before.
I used to make meals that had a ton of leftovers. That was why I was a leftover failure. Too many leftovers means that after two or three meals of the same thing, it gets old, I’d get sick of it, and into the trash it would go. Not good! Now, if there are multiple servings left over, they get frozen. Mostly though, I try to make only one serving of leftovers, and I always take that with me to work for lunch. I invested in some decent tupperware and mason jars to make this easier.
We’re visual beings. If something gets shoved to the back of the fridge, we are likely to forget about it. I know this has happened to you: You open the opaque crisper only to discover a mouldy something left there from weeks ago. All because you forgot it was in there.
When I put my groceries away, I put the things that are going to go bad first, at the forefront. This includes leftovers, veggies, unfrozen meat, etc. I don’t use my crispers at all, because I’m terrible at remembering what’s in them. This way, I can see the stuff that I need to use up first, and it’s that much easier to stay organized.
I used to be a victim of “not being in the mood” to cook a certain meal. I would often buy groceries with grand plans to make something great, and then at the end of the day, I’d end up making something quick and easy, that didn’t include any of the ingredients that I’d shelled out my cash for. These days, I suck it up and stick to the plan, since I know that if I end up throwing something away due to my own laziness, I’m practically throwing dollars in the garbage can.
Because of these tactics, among others, I’ve drastically reduced my grocery budget. The funny thing is, I eat just as well as I did when I was spending $800 per month. I’m absolutely certain that my diet is healthier than it was when I was spending so much, and my grocery spending is so much more efficient now. I definitely don’t feel deprived or starved for decent meals in any way, and part of that is because I’ve eliminated the money I was throwing into the garbage can in the form of spoiled food.
It’s no secret that I’m really trying to save as much money as I can so that I can pay off my student loans as quickly as possible.
The thought of still having them in the summer time would make me sad (and a little mad), so I’m trying as hard as I can to keep with the goal of having them gone by March or April of this year.
On a side note, Sharon over at Midlife Mom Musings switched from Blogger to WP and wants you all to follow her on over there. I know what it was like when I switched from Blogger to WP, and I hated losing so many readers because they couldn’t find my link. I thought I’d make it a little easier for her And if you haven’t yet, please read my post about how to start a blog!
Also, if you could please vote for me as the top personal finance blog of 2012! I will love you forever if you did. It’s just a simple click, no signup required. I would be super happy!
Anyways, my $38,000 Student Loan Payoff Plan is going well and I’ve already knocked out a big chunk. The other day I also completely knocked out a private student loan that I’ve had since 2007 that was almost up to $6,000!
I’ve been ramping up the ways that I make extra income and this has helped me a lot with paying down my student loan debt. I’m all about increasing my income!
However, even with all of our increases in extra income, we have been spending way too much on food. I know that if we didn’t eat out so much, then we would be saving even more.
Here are some updates:
I have hardly been doing any meal planning lately. This means a lot more food waste in our house. I just buy stuff at the grocery store and have no plan for it. I need to dig through my Pinterest food board and start making some of the yummy looking food on there.
We buy way too many snacks. Whether it be Gushers (yes, I have an unhealthy addiction), chips, cookies and so on. Lately I’ve been to the point where I’m running past the snack aisles at the grocery store so that I can’t even think of buying any snacks. This actually works haha
All of this is expensive, and we pretty much just eat it when we’re bored. No nutritional value and it’s a waste of money! Plus, we need to eat more healthy.
Yes, this is my number one goal. We eat out a lot. I will not tell you because I know a lot of you will yell and rip me apart. Lets just say it’s “a lot” and leave it at that. I need to start coming up with exciting dinners so that I don’t feel the need to go out and eat.
However, this past week we have been doing MUCH better. Our goal right now is to eat in 5 days every week. We were able to accomplish this last week and are doing good so far this week.
I don’t remember the last time I used a coupon that I actually clipped and brought with me. I get them in the mail all the time but don’t even bother. I hate whenever I go to a store and realize that I threw the coupon away because I thought I wouldn’t use it, but then it turned out that I needed it!
Do any of you coupon? How much do you usually save in a week or month because of it? If any couponers want to do a guest post for me about how you save money, I would love to have you on my blog by the way.
Also, if I do go out to eat, my goal is to use a coupon every single time. I need to use more Restaurant.com gift certificates (these are wonderful if you haven’t used them before) because you are usually paying $2 for a $25 gift certificate. Also, search for mobile coupons before you’re about to buy something! This is something that I do more often now and the other day even saved an extra $30 off a pair of shoes for W (yes I do realize shoes are not food).
The giveaway today is for a $500 PayPal cash prize! This giveaway was brought to you by Rather-Be-Shopping.com, helping consumers save money with online coupons since 2000.
Hey everyone! I feel like I haven’t made a Sunday Meal Plan post in what seems like forever. And not having a legitimate meal planning post has definitely hurt my wallet. I don’t think about the food I’m going to make as much as I would if I had a meal plan.
I pretty much just throw anything into the shopping cart, and call it good. Except, I never get anything that is good enough for a full meal!
I think the dining room plan that I have hopes for (click to view it from my old Sunday meal plan which has the picture) is finally going to be completed either this month or next.
My friend and I are driving to Ikea (WHY DON’T THEY HAVE ONE AROUND HERE?!) and plan on doing this soon. Hopefully this is sooner rather than later.
We are planning on eating in as much as we can for both December and January. Anyone want to join me on my challenge to eat at home as much as you can?
Also, since we will be on vacation from the 16th to the 19th, I am looking for a couple of guest posts. I would prefer the posts to revolve around money of course, but maybe about how you save on vacations, what side jobs you have, and/or what your long-term goals are. Is anyone interested?
So how is your food budget going? How much money do you think you’ll spend on food in December?
Here’s what I plan on making as our main course for each dinner: