With one of my most popular posts being one that teaches others how I feed my family of eight for $250, it is time I update how I save money at the grocery store these days as that post is more than a year old.
I find that the price of groceries had remained relatively the same, but with kids who are growing like weeds, by grocery budget has increased a bit. In fact, we now have three kids who eat more than my husband and I since we have two teens and one tween these days.
Please tell me my kids aren’t the only ones who are growing up!
Anyhow, I have been tracking my grocery spending for about six months now, and it averages out to be $350 a month to feel all nine of us since our youngest isn’t eating food just yet.
All of the same principles that I outlined in my original post still stand, but for the purposes of this update I am highlighting what I find to be the most important things I do to keep our grocery budget in check.
Here’s how I feed my family of ten on $350 a month!
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Know what is on sale when
There is a common cycle that grocery items follow each year. While it will vary by region to some degree, knowing the cycle that I’ve discovered is a great place to start. Really, it makes sense, too, since many of the sales are based on the time of year in which they fall. Read my account of what’s on sale in the Sale Calendar of Groceries Throughout the Year.
Stock up the when prices are their best
I have had nearly 150 boxes of cereal in my pantry at one time when they have been on sale at their best prices. Yes, stocking up means that you have to store the food, but this is part of my strategy. I have also stored things like pasta, salad dressing, and soup in boxes under beds when there has not been room in my pantry. This takes a commitment, but I have no choice but to feed my super size family on a budget. Not sure how to figure out when prices are their best? Proceed to the next step.
Keep a price log
A price log is such an important way of knowing when something is a good deal and when it’s not. Just because something is on sale doesn’t mean that it is a great price. Of course it will most likely be cheaper on sale than it will at regular price, but cheaper doesn’t necessarily mean a stock up price. Need help in creating a price log?
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There is nothing that will keep you on the up and up with feeding your family frugally like a menu plan will, especially when your menu plan is based on what is on sale for the week. You can check out my menu planning strategy in Menu Planning 101.
Use your freezer and pantry
Freezer cooking is another skill that will keep you out of the drive thru. Real life happens, things don’t go as planned, and dinner plans can unravel in a heartbeat. Stocking your freezer, whether with meals or with meal components, will save you time, stress, and money. Taking a freezer and pantry inventory with this inventory template comes first, but from there comes the stocking. Here’s my downloadable list of what to keep in your freezer and in your pantry, and they are worth their weight in gold.
Be willing to shop at more than one store
This can seem like a bother, but when people ask how I can feed my family of nine for $350 a month, I have to include this. Sometimes I shop all in one day, but most often we shop at a store when we are already going to be in a certain area. Either way, most weeks we are shopping at up to five different stores in order to get the best prices.
Buy things only when they are on sale
I know how nice it would be to base your menu plan on what you’d like to make, but making meals using only sale items is a surefire way to help keep your budget in line.
Don’t waste food
Don’t let food expire or spoil before you can use it. Keeping on top of what’s in your refrigerator, freezer, and pantry is a big part of this, which is why keeping up with a regular inventory on these items is essential. Only buy what you can use while it is still fresh, and then USE IT!
Don’t be afraid to be creative
Staples like chicken bought on sale are always a healthy way to feed your family, but it can be hard to want to eat these staples when you prepare them only a couple of different ways. Find new recipes, try new twists, and get creative in using leftovers rather than letting them go to waste. There are some amazing tools out there to help you do this. Putting some time and effort into making meals interesting will keep you and your family on board the frugal living train!
If you want to learn how to feed your family frugally, you need to learn from those who have accomplished it, and this might mean putting out a little bit of money up front, however, keep in mind that the payoff will be more than worth it.
I learned so much from Erin Chase and her Grocery Budget Makeover, and by implementing the things you learn in her 10 lesson course you can cut your grocery budget in half. She walks you through things like menu planning, provides recipes and cooking demonstrations, and gives you the secrets the grocery stores don’t want you to know among so much more!
The program has options for $39, $49, and $79 depending on your specific needs.
I have taken communities of readers through this course on two separate occasions, and together we have fallen in love with this course.
Feeding my family frugally is a necessity since our income is limited. You can feed our family for pennies on the dollar, too, just follow the steps I’ve laid out here, and you’ll be on your way.
Check out some of these tips in action when I went shopping with my local news crew! Just click HERE.