I have a confession to make.
It is kind of embarrassing, actually. I am a total FOODIE. I mean I love food. Grocery shopping is my all time favorite kind of shopping. I just love walking down all of the aisles and looking at all of the different types of food. I imagine making, and eating, so many delicious meals. A trip to the grocery store that takes someone else 15 minutes, can take me 2 hours.
Practicing self-control at the grocery store
Weird, right? But I happen to know that I am not the only one who has to practice a lot of self-control in the grocery store. Everyone does. Those grocery store owners are sneaky! They know how to display their food, where to put it, and how to get you to have to pass by it while you are in the store. Then, the battle begins. Do you listen to your head and your budget, or your stomach and your imagination?
Managing your food expenses
As a single parent, you have to manage your food expenses in order to keep your budget in order. Wasting money is not an option. Wasting food is truly wasting money. So, wasting food is not an option either. You need a plan to avoid wasting … well, anything!
If you are like me, then you battle with buying food you do not need. It is way too easy to do. Furthermore, you walk into the store and the sight and smells of delicious foods tempt you. The only way you are going to get out of that store without wasting money is if you have a plan. Planning your grocery store trips will truly save you money and help you manage your food expenses.
Your plan must include these parts: budget, meals, real life.
Your budget is how much you can afford to spend on food. I always think of my food budget as the MAXIMUM amount I will spend. It has become a contest for me—how little can I spend and still feed my family healthy food? The second part, meals, is just as important as your budget. Plan your meals, save money, save waste.
We are well into 2019 now and it has already been an eventful and surprising year for us! The check engine lights came on in both of our cars, my washing machine broke down, our daughter turned 16 at the end of 2018 and is driving so our insurance jumped way up. It is crazy how little things can add up quickly and truly change everything.
Meals for everyday life
Although you might be dreaming about creating fantastic, homemade meals from scratch every day, although is it really likely that you will cook from scratch every meal? In fact, do not put unreasonable pressure on yourself. Think about your lifestyle, healthy foods that your family will eat, and how much you have to spend. When you think through and plan your meals, you won’t be tempted to pick something up just because it is on sale. You will know you do not need it.
As you consider your lifestyle, you need to also look at your schedule. Do you have sporting events that will therefore cause you to have to cook food ahead? Will you be eating a meal at your prison visit this week (one less meal to plan!), or will you be attending an event where there will be food? In other words, your family’s activities greatly influence your meal prep and the number of meals you need to plan for. This is what I call, Real Life.
Make sure you are focused on the reality of your life when you plan your meals and your budget. You might want to make that gourmet meal, but hamburgers and a salad might be what you CAN make. As you live within your means, and plan your meals ahead, you will also save money on your food expenses.
Here are a few extra tips on how to save money on your groceries:
- Eat before you go. Yes, this really helps!
- Make a list of what you need to make your meals while you are at home. This way, you can check to see what you really need to buy.
- Go the store when you only have a short time frame to shop. This keeps your focused on “get in, get what I need, get out.” You will avoid buying things you do not need, and overspending. Sports practices are a great time to go because you know you must pick your child up soon.
- Check online for coupons and specials before you go. I have a “2 store” rule, so I shop at the 2 stores that have the most items on sale that I need. Unless it is the deal of a lifetime, I never stop at a store for just one thing.
- Use all your leftovers. Make this a game with your kids. The rule is, “Nobody opens up anything new until our fridge is empty of all prepared food.” Not always fun, but always worth the savings!
- Take snacks with you in your car or purse so you can eat something quickly if you start to get hungry before you make it back home. This helps you avoid impulse eating out.
- Check everyone’s schedules the Saturday before. Hence this ensures you know what days you will have time to cook and which days you should cook ahead for.
- Make your cook-ahead meals on Sunday afternoons. You can also throw meat in a crockpot and use that for sandwiches, beef and noodles, tacos, salads etc. Once your main dish is ready, the rest won’t take long to throw together.
- Only make what you will eat. I used to make a TON of food and then find myself throwing it out a week later. Learn, practice, and teach moderation.
- Drink a lot of water. It is free—or nearly free! Plus, it keeps you from overeating so you have double savings 😊
Enjoy your food, and your family!
I am rooting for you!