Our budget is tight thanks to medical expenses. Our goal is to spend $750 a month on gluten free, dairy free food that is ideally organic. We also prefer meat that is grass-fed and pasture raised, in part because several of us have dietary issues. Before I started trying to lower our grocery budget, we were routinely spending $1,100 a month on groceries. Since I started tracking the last two months, I’m averaging approximately $850 a month, but this month I’ll be over that amount.
For our budget’s sake, I can’t keep going over.
In November, I’m going to try these strategies to keep the budget in line:
Find 10 to 15 Frugal Meals We Enjoy
I’ll put these meals into a regular rotation of one or two a week. I plan to look at several sites to find these recipes. My husband doesn’t mind beans, but he doesn’t like to eat them a lot, so I can’t rely solely on bean recipes.
Find More Meals I Can Eat With the Family
In June, 2016, I went AIP (again!) to deal with some health issues I was having. The naturopath I worked with thinks that the core issue was that I was not able to get rid of mold in my body. We had been exposed to a serious amount of mold in our old apartment, and then unbeknownst to us, our house we bought in 2014 had mold in my son’s closet and the bathroom wall as well as in our master bathroom. That has been treated. I took activated charcoal and removed the mold from my body, so I should be able to continue reintroducing food and eating more of the foods my family eats.
Separate My Grocery Budget
I’m planning on separating my $750 grocery budget. I’ll use $500 for regular, weekly grocery expenses for a month, and $250 to restock our pantry and freezers when I find great deals.
Utilize Freezer Meals for Lunches
I’ve done a great job loading the freezer with dinners, but I think I need to expand my efforts and make some freezer meals for lunches. If I don’t have a lunch plan, I tend to rely on convenience foods like Daiya boxed macaroni and cheese and grilled cheese sandwiches. While these might be frugal options for most families, when you’re gluten and dairy free, these options are not frugal. If I make freezer lunches, I’ll be spending less on our lunches.
Keep a Price Book
I’ve been lazy about keeping a price book. I plan to start one in November. I regularly go to four different stores in town–Trader Joe’s, Natural Grocers, Sprout’s, and Costco. Why not keep track of the prices so I pay the lowest price I can for the regular items we buy?
Also, I plan to keep track of the sales cycles for our regular purchases. Daiya shredded cheese (which we use a fair amount of) can go on sale for as low as $2.50 to $3.00 a bag. The regular price is $4.99 a bag. It makes sense to stock up when the price is low and get enough to last through the next sales cycle. However, I first have to know what the sales cycle is!
Buy Enough Fruits and Veggies
We eat a lot of fruits and veggies in our house, but they’re relatively inexpensive, so I’d like to buy more and serve them for snacks. Right now, I do serve them as snacks, but I’ve also gotten into the habit of relying on gluten free snack foods, which aren’t cheap.
I’ll let you know how these strategies work for me. Hopefully, once they’re implemented, we’ll be able to get our grocery budget to the target of $750.
Have One Week a Month to Minimally Shop
I plan to have one week a month where I make a minimal shopping trip just for fresh fruits and veggies and any minor necessities that we need. I’d like this trip to cost no more than $50 to $75 for the week.
What strategies do you use to save money at the grocery store, especially if you’re following a specialized diet?