Back to School, Back to Meal Planning: Try to Keep Your Groceries Bill in Check

Hi all,
I hope you had a great summer and are ready for Back to school, and back to “normal” schedules. It is the perfect time to discuss one of the biggest areas we all tend to overspend: Groceries. My top 5 tips for reducing your groceries spending are the following:

  1. Go with a list
  2. Leave the kids at home
  3. Do some basic meal planning before you write your list (e.g. “pasta Tuesday, chicken Wednesday…”)
  4. Do a quick inventory before you head to the grocery store
  5. MOST IMPORTANT: Go only 1 or 2 times per week! Don’t go whenever you need one thing, you will come home with 10 things, 9 of which you did not need.

Although all 5 tips will help reduce your groceries spending, number 5 is critical. If you can stop yourself from running out every day or every other day for “a few things,” you could drop your spending by a couple hundred dollars per month. Using Instacart or Peapod can help reduce overspending by impulse buying, too.

When my daughter says we’re out of whatever she MUST have that minute, I tell her it takes 2-3 weeks to starve and mommy will go to the store within that time frame. Done. It may be harsh, but patience is a good life skill for all kids to learn.

To help you with item #3, I recommend a recipe planning site like 6 O’Clock Scramble, an online meal planning service that provides quick, easy, and delicious meals recipes. To make it as easy as possible, The Scramble sends you a weekly email that links you to your customizable meal plan. From there, you can pick which recipes you want and generate a shopping list. Recipe sites are a LOT cheaper than meal kit services that deliver meal ingredients like Blue Apron.

I recommend 6 O’Clock Scramble because you are doing the cooking, which means you saving money. I am NOT AFFILIATED with 6 O’Clock Scramble and do NOT make a red cent if you decide to try it. I just like the service and they were kind enough to give subscribers to my blog a discount code. If you want to try it, use this subscription discount code GL30031 and get $3 off any term of subscription. Let me know what you think!

Lastly, from a financial perspective, I recommend people try to stay away from meal kits services e.g. Blue Apron, Hello Fresh and Purple Carrot, etc., if possible because it’s easy to get hooked and it’s expensive over the long haul. If you decide to use a meal kit service, consider it “training wheels” to teach you good cooking techniques. These services are far more expensive than cooking, because in addition to meals you buy from a meal kit service, which may have a decent per meal price tag, you still have to buy toilet paper and snacks and everything else. If you must, try a meal kit service for 6 months at most and see if you learned enough to cook for yourself without it after 6 months.

Remember, you want to spend $300-$400/person/month on groceries (any child eating solid food is a full “person” for this). If you are a family of 4, you should be spending $1,200-$1,600/month on groceries including non-edible items like laundry detergent and plastic wrap. If you are over that amount, there’s more than the typical amount of waste unless someone in your house has diabetes or Celiac or another condition that requires a special diet.

We all like to eat well, just make sure you are eating smart financially, nutritionally, and environmentally.