I was asked to share my tips yesterday so I decided to write up a blog post. I’m still learning (I think I will always be learning), so I’m sure others will have more to share!
I wouldn’t be able to shop frugally without meal planning. I have been doing this since Karis was a baby (12 years).
- The best way to start is with what we already have at home. I look at the leftover produce, the meat that we have (typically we have a lot of venison), pantry items, dairy, etc.
- I keep a running list in the notes of my phone as we come across things that we are out of. We have some foods that are staples that we always have such as eggs, cheese, yogurt, butter, cream cheese, tortillas, bread, beans and rice, etc. If I run out of this I put it on my list right away.
- Then I get my cookbooks out. I have a binder where I keep printed recipes and I have several cookbooks that I use regularly. Typically these cookbooks contain pretty easy and frugal recipes. My two favorites are Great Food Fast by Bob Warden (Instant pot recipes) and Good Cheap Eats, Dinner in 30 Minutes (or less!) by Jessica Fisher. I also use a Trim Healthy Mama cookbook but I DON’T follow the diet (no diets for this girl!). Sometimes I use Google or Pinterest but I tend to stick to books because it’s less overwhelming for me.
- I also use meals often that we really like (burrito bowls, roasted chicken, etc). I plan to write up a list of these meals soon.
- I plan for one week at a time now because I find that I spend less that way. Knowing that I will be back to the store if I need anything helps with the fear of running out (I go to town once a week at least).
- I plan about 3-4 breakfasts and lunches to choose from and then I plan the dinners specific to the day.
- Here’s an example:
- Meal Plan, Week of October 22nd-28th
- The biggest thing is KEEP IT SIMPLE.
- Here are some pics of what I bought yesterday:
- I usually use meats that are pretty inexpensive such as chicken thighs, drumsticks, whole chicken, sausage, ground beef, etc and lots of our venison because it’s free! Sometimes I get ground beef to mix into it when I need more fat (like with burgers or meat loaf).
- I buy the store brands of almost everything. HEB has great stuff so I find that it works well. I also no longer buy organic or natural products because it just costs a lot more and frugal is priority at the moment. I only buy paper plates sometimes. This is an extra that we enjoy at times.
- I try to make things homemade when I can! This saves a lot. Sometimes I don’t have it in me so I buy those items. And that’s okay too.
- When it comes time to shop I sit down with my phone and computer. I go to the HEB website on my computer and start searching and adding things to my cart. I ONLY buy what’s on my list. This is much easier to do with pick up. I have a hard time with this in the stores, but it’s doable! It just takes lots of self control! Then I just pick it up at my store!
- One thing I suggest if you don’t have pick up in your area (we just got it!) is to add things up on your calculator while shopping and shop with cash.
- I use cash now with everything except my big grocery purchases because I find that buying online and doing pickup saves me more even than using cash. I still have a very tight budget with-in this! Basically I only keep enough $$ in my account for groceries so I still have to stay with-in budget.
- I make sure to do some food prep every week. Not only does it help with actually eating the produce and food that I buy, it also helps save time and helps with eating a little bit healthier. I try to make something each week homemade: bread, muffins, granola, etc. This saves money also. And homemade foods just taste better!
I’m sure there is something that I’m missing. I’m basically taking what I have done and known and really working hard on having a very small budget!
We are trying to save for Christmas gifts, to be able to travel more as a family (mostly camping and backpacking trips), and for braces for Karis!