I Figured Out How to (Finally) Cut Our Monthly Grocery Bill in Half — And Saved Hundreds of Dollars

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Groceries organized successful refrigerator.

Credit: Amanda Baltazar

In a emblematic month, nan Baltazar family — my husband; our daughter, Olive; and maine — spends astir $1,100 connected groceries, pinch 1 of america (my husband) gone each different week for work. We eat astir of our meals astatine home; we navigator and cook from scratch a lot; and we eat very small meat. Olive bakes often and moreover cooks a repast each different week — let’s telephone that “college prep.”

In September, our market expenses reached $1,400. Astronomical? I know! 

After looking astatine this full I realized thing needed to beryllium done, truthful we instituted “Austere October.” The goal: Cut our market spending successful half — to $700 — for nan month. This was going to beryllium tricky, partially because, let’s look it, a 50% simplification successful thing tin beryllium challenging, and besides we for illustration to eat nutrient that’s minimally processed, integrated (if possible), and from section farmers aliases our section fishmonger; I wasn’t afloat prepared to return a dive nutritionally, arsenic good arsenic financially.

With our fridge and cupboards beautiful full, and brew connected manus for my husband, we prepped for nan period ahead. I leafed done cookbooks and searched nan net to find recipes that would usage up ingredients we already had (you’ll find astatine slightest 1 for astir each forgotten room staple). I besides wrote a database of what was languishing successful nan freezer and planned my shopping trips carefully. 

We’ve conscionable closed retired October pinch our market bills totalling $747. It’s higher than I hoped, but it’s 47% little in a azygous month. I’d emotion to opportunity we’ll support our nutrient fund this debased each month, but it’s not wholly possible. We will request to replenish nan items we utilized up, for illustration coconut milk, sesame oil, and herb paste, successful summation to our modular database of staples, which intends November is going to beryllium a restocking month. 

Still, I scheme to make each different period much wallet-friendly, without going excessively acold complete fund successful nan much indulgent months. Here are 3 money-saving strategies I learned and will return pinch maine into Thrifty December.

1. Rethink bulk-buying strategy.

I shop for ingredients — lentils, oats, nuts, etc. — from bulk sections of market stores that connection it, often getting respective pounds astatine a clip astatine a little price per ounce. I besides bid bulk items from Azure Standard, a family-owned institution that delivers modular and bulk orders to a constituent personification successful my town. (This mightiness beryllium 5 lb bags of flour and raisins, aliases oliva lipid by nan gallon.) It’s a large disbursal upfront, that’s offset complete nan adjacent fewer months. In October, though, I bought conscionable what I needed and for nan past 2 days of nan period we had nary granola (our go-to breakfast), which allowed america to eat up a fewer homemade muffins I’d stashed successful nan freezer — another win!

2. Cut retired nan unnecessary extras.

I trim backmost (way back) connected nan nonessentials, which was particularly difficult erstwhile Olive shopped pinch me: “Hey, mom, look astatine these cocoa clusters pinch pretzels, murphy chips, and maize chips,” she said successful Trader Joe’s arsenic my rima watered — but I remained firm. 

Flavored yogurts became a definite no-no (I made my ain yogurt — thing I ever do — exclusively for this month). We besides avoided fruit-flavored waters, BBQ pistachios, and, connected nan caller Trader Joe’s trip, proof-and-bake-at-home croissants. My hubby sewage excited astir a six-pack of stout brew successful nan market store, but I was strict: He had to portion what we had astatine home. 

I besides made my ain desserts, which weren’t arsenic nosy and arsenic easy to gaffe into Olive’s luncheon box, but they were tasty. On apical of this, I enjoyed myself. I utilized up a container of limes from Costco (purchased successful September) to make lime cupcakes; location was besides a blackberry crisp, which starred consequence we picked ourselves and a bunch of pantry staples successful nan topping; and tahini cookies. What didn’t get made? Pecan bars. The pecans were each gone by that point.

3. Embrace quiet shelves.

I’m a planner, truthful nan thought of not having rows and rows of ingredients wrong scope was, well, unthinkable — but that each changed during October. Our freezer, fridge, and cupboards emptied retired and it really felt bully to beryllium utilizing up nan worldly from nan measurement way backmost that I’d forgotten existed. 

Seafood — a large splurge for america usually — took connected much of a impermanent role; alternatively of a mates of food dishes a week, we had salmon erstwhile (with a condiment of tamari, mustard, and maple syrup, each staples we had connected hand) and immoderate Dover sole, which besides helped quiet a container of panko from nan cupboard.  

We recovered dishes that cleaned retired nan pantry and didn’t request a batch else. I made a coconut lentil curry soup that’s retired of this world (and utilized up lentils, coconut milk, and desiccated coconut) and a taco torte that contained stiff maize and achromatic beans. Sun-dried tomatoes went into a farro dish, veggie dal utilized up reddish lentils, and a black legume soup needed thing much than immoderate sour pick and cilantro, but helped clear retired 1 support of nan pantry. 

I moreover cleaned america retired of beardown achromatic flour by making a batch of breadstuff rolls. Now that’s thing I will continue.

Got a smart extremity to prevention money connected groceries? Tell america astir it successful nan comments below.