Living on Less Than $28,000 A Year: How our family of six survives (and even thrives) on an income that is less than half the national median income, and what the government calls “below the poverty line” (less than $29,990 annually) for our family size. [Read other posts in this series here.]
One way that we are able to live on less is by reining in the spending on groceries, and you may be surprised that my primary means of saving doesn’t involve coupons, but rather planning.
I shop each week on Wednesday, so I spend about 30 minutes on Tuesday looking at the sales in my area then making a menu based on the sale items and whatever I have in my freezer and pantry. There are other money saving ideas which I incorporate (and will be sharing), but if you would like to get started with an immediate way to save, try this 3 step plan:
Choose a SHOPPING day and time.
Choosing one day to shop consistently each week allows you to plan and make one trip to the grocery store rather than three to six. Limiting your visits to the store will immediately save you money because spending increases exponentially with each visit (ever gone in for milk and come out with $25 worth of other items?).
Make sure you choose a time that works in your schedule. If Saturday morning is the only time dad is available to watch the kids, that may be your best shopping time. If you work during the week and like to sleep in on Saturday, perhaps Sunday afternoon works best for you.
Remember to be flexible. If you try a certain time and it doesn’t work for you after a couple of weeks, choose another time.
Choose a PLANNING day and time.
Once you have committed to a shopping day and time, make a standing appointment with yourself a day or two before shopping day to complete some planning.
Optimally on your planning day, you should check sales at local stores and plan your meals around those sale items plus what is in your pantry. If that process is too overwhelming, choose one store that has the lowest prices in your area and stick with that store for now.
Don’t skip this step. Making a commitment to a scheduled planning time ensures that you will go to the store with a plan and that alone can save $20-$50 on your grocery bill.
Make a Menu and Grocery List
I like to plan meals specific to each day of the week. If you are more spontaneous you can make a list of meals for the week and serve them when you feel like it.
I plan meals based on the sale items at local stores and what I currently have in the fridge, freezer and pantry. You can read a step-by-step example of what I do here.
If you would like an “official” menu form, click here to print The Peaceful Mom Menu Planners (pictured above). You can type your meals into the planner and print, or print a blank planner and write in your meals. I have even printed one and placed it in a page protector to save on paper and ink costs. If you use the page protector method, write the meals in with dry erase or transparency markers. Click here for meal planning ideas.
Once you have your list of meals for the week, make your grocery list. I like to keep a running grocery list on the fridge which I mark when we open the last package or jar of something. Click here to print The Peaceful Mom Grocery List or Multiple Store Shopping List.
If this 3 step plan overwhelms you, check out eMeals*. They have weekly meal plans based on your store’s sales (including recipes and a grocery list!) and they start at just $7.00 a month when you purchase a 3 month plan. My readers can use promo code PEACEFUL for a 10% discount off of their already low prices!
Click here to get take a look!
If you are ready for more advanced saving ideas, you can buy my e-book Save More-Clip Less: Feed Your Family For Less Without Extreme Couponing. The Appendix includes a list of meal ideas with specific ingredients, a quick start plan and helpful links to more information. That’s worth the cost of the book alone!
Click here for more information and download instructions.
Do you have a specific shopping day? Leave a comment and let us know how it works for you.
next post: Sucking It Up
Click here to read other posts in this series.
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