Before my husband and I had kids and a mortgage, meals were super easy. We would either just go to the grocery store and buy whatever we felt like eating during the week or we would eat out (“oh shucks, we forgot to thaw the meat again, oh well, let’s just eat out”).
Then, well, I became pregnant, we bought a house, I gave birth to Charles, municipal taxes went up, sales taxes went up (the combination of the Federal and Provincial tax where I live tallies up to about 15%), electricity rates went up, gas prices remained high despite the crash of the barrel price (we pay on average 1.10$/L which amounts to about 4.16$/gallon). Yikes! Though our salaries went up as well, we soon found ourselves looking for ways to keep more money in our pockets (because who doesn’t want more money in their pockets?).
Here are the 5 things that helped us save money on groceries (because groceries are pretty much the only thing we had control over).
- We started to plan our weekly meals.
I created, printed out and laminated a meal-planning sheet and each week we would jot down what we wanted to eat for lunch and supper with a dry erase marker. Then, it was just a question of jotting down on a grocery list what we needed to buy.
- We started to plan our meals based on what was on sale.
You see, every Wednesday, a Publisac gets delivered to our door. It’s basically a bag filled with flyers from local stores. Now, we used to just toss it in the recycling bin. Eventually, though, we took out the flyers from our local grocery stores and started going through them. We then took to buying the bulk of our ingredients only when they were on sale. Then we planned our meals around those ingredients. This is great, because besides saving money, it also allowed for creativity as we ended up buying stuff we might not have bought normally.
- We (and by “we” I mean my husband) started to do our groceries at 2-3 different stores (all in close proximity to one another)
We’re lucky enough that there are 5 grocery stores (6 if you count Walmart) within 5 km of each other and our house. This allows us to go to the 2-3 that offer the best prices each week.
- We began buying food and household products that we use regularly in bulk sizes (provided they were cheaper that their non-bulk counterparts – which isn’t always the case).
One of the first purchases we made when buying the house was getting a deep-freezer. It. Is. Wonderful. We are also lucky enough to have a storage space under the stairs where we can store extra non-perishable food items.
- We continued to make (pretty much) everything from scratch.
Both my husband and I like to cook, so this has always been pretty easy for us. But we’ve expanded our repertoire over the years. No more store-bought pie shells, chicken pot pie or pizza sauce for us!
It may sound like a lot of work, but we did this one step at a time (by the way, did you know that it takes, on average, about 66 days to form a new habit?) and we haven’t regretted it!
How do you do your meal planning? Do you wing it or plan it?