The other day I found an article entitled “How to Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half”. I was so excited as I clicked on the link! “Surely this will give me some great insight into making my already relatively small grocery bill even smaller,” I thought to myself as the page loaded. As I began to read the article I was stunned. I do every single thing on the list all the time. Point one: Make one big trip. I go grocery shopping one time each week and get everything we’re going to need. Point two: Check yourself out. Ok…so I don’t do this but that’s because my ghetto HEB doesn’t have that option. Their point was to not impulse buy while you’re at the checkout counter which I don’t do whether I’m checking myself out or not. Point three: Have a plan. Check! I not only have a grocery list but have a meal plan set for the entire week when I enter the grocery store. Point four: Go generic. My mother raised me on Great Value brand (Walmart’s version). That’s all I’ve ever known! (And while I’m on the subject of my mom…can I just say that she rocks at this?! I grew up eating some of the best food on the block while my family lived in a tighter budget than I ever realized!)
I’m in no way trying to toot my own horn and I certainly don’t assume I’m the best meal planner/cook around. It’s simply that cooking for Adam and I is a huge part of my week and probably one of my favorite parts of being a wife. I get straight up giddy when our meal plan for the week looks yummy just on paper. And don’t get me started when I come in under budget!
So, I thought I’d bring you in on my process. Maybe you’ll learn something…maybe I’ll just have a place to look back on in a few years and smile at the simple joy I get from feeding our family. Either way, I hope you enjoy!
First: I decide what we’re going to eat Monday-Sunday.
I go grocery shopping on Saturday or Sunday…along with the rest of Waco, TX it feels like. So around Thursday of each week I sit down with my iPhone and computer and get started setting a meal plan for the week. I use my phone because I keep the menu for the week in the Notes app. I use my computer for Pinterest…my online cookbook! Normally Adam joins in during this part with options about what we’ll eat that week. Here’s an example with recipes included (it’s actually what we’re eating this week!):
Fasting (We’re students in the Antioch Church Planting School and they ask us to fast one day a week.)
Lunch – chicken hot dogs (SO good!!)
Dinner – pulled chicken tacos (This is a new recipe for me! Put 2-3 chicken breasts in the crock pot. Add a can of salsa and a package of taco seasoning. Let it cook 4-6 hours on low. Then shred the chicken. We eat them with whole wheat tortillas, roasted corn, guacamole and some cheese.)
Lunch – sandwich with fruit
Dinner – turkey burgers with sweet potato fries (I would assume you all can make a mean burger. We just season our patties with sea salt, pepper and garlic powder. Adam likes to add what could be equivalent to a salad on his burger! For the sweet potato fries I just slice them like french fries and toss them in olive oil, sea salt and pepper. Bake them on a cookie sheet at 350 until they’re soft.)
Lunch – grilled chicken salad
Dinner – stuffed avocado and rice (This idea came from a local restaurant called Food for Thought. Cut an avocado in half and scoop out a little of the insides. Fill with whatever sounds good – I normally add cooked chicken, some sort of veggie (like a bell pepper) and top with a little cheese. Put stuffed avocadoes in the oven set at 350 for just a few minutes. You want the cheese to melt. I serve it with some rice on the side.)
Lunch – spaghetti (We use whole wheat pasta. I got my recipe for the sauce from this post. It’s supposed to be a pizza sauce but pizza sauce and spaghetti sauce is really the same thing…right?!)
Dinner – DATE NIGHT! (I don’t cook this night!!)
Lunch – sandwich with fruit
Dinner – tortellini and garden vegetable bake
Lunch – Volunteer Training at the church (Thanks, Antioch!)
Dinner – chicken nuggets with corn on the cob (I cut up chicken breast into cubes and toss them in flour that’s been seasoned with some season salt and pepper. Then I bake them at 350 until done.)
Second: Make a grocery list
I use my iPhone again here with an app called Grocery Pal. I type in anything I need to buy and it brings up the ingredients and organizes them by aisle. This saves me LOADS of time in the grocery store! I also try (I’m not a Nazi here…but I do try) to stick to my list while I’m at HEB.
Third: To HEB we go!
I don’t have time to coupon. Seriously…it takes tons of time to find them, cut them out, use enough of them to make it worth it…I just can’t go there. So my strategy is this: Buy generic and buy lots of produce. In most cases generic will taste just as good as the name brand stuff. I have my exceptions (Hidden Valley Ranch!), but they are few and far between. And produce, in general, is cheap and good for you!
For you this might not look like enough for two people to eat on for a week. I did have a few things already at home from last week – some bread, spaghetti sauce and noodles, chicken breasts (I buy a big package and individually freeze them) and a few hot dogs. But that’s a good thing! I keep a few items always in stock so I don’t have to buy them every trip.
My budget is small – $45 each time to HEB for a week’s worth of food. This week I came in under budget – $38.37!!!
Excuse me for marking out Adam’s iTunes gift card. He gets a gift card every two week to buy Marvel comic books. (Yes…I married a kid…but I love him!) It doesn’t come out of our grocery money!
*One kinda side note: For the past month I’ve tried to eat as “clean” as we can. When I say “clean” I mean that I try to home-make just about anything I put in front of us. I make our marinara sauce. I’ll make our sweet potato fries. We eat all whole grain (pasta, bread, etc.) which I don’t make but is a better option. It means I cook a lot but it’s actually saving us money and it’s so much better for us! I got this idea from a blog I read where a mom tries to feed her family 80% of the time clean food while realizing that life happens so 20% of their food will be unclean. She hooked me with a two week meal plan with both summer/spring food and fall/winter food. I’ve tried a lot of her recipes and they’re really good!
Fourth: Eat up!
Yes…it takes more time. Yes…I have to think ahead all the time about what we’re going to eat next. But…we eat really yummy food that’s good for us and we’re not breaking the bank! Let me also point out that Adam and I don’t stay at home all day long with nothing to do. We have a full schedule and still eat like this!
Women you just have to admit that there’s nothing like sitting a lovely plate of food in front of your husband and him marveling at what you were able to do in the kitchen. And men you know you love it when she makes delicious food for you! It’s a joy all the way around!