Part 2: Cutting Our Grocery Budget in HALF!

In Part 1 I posted a list of the dinner meals I planned for April.  To come up with that list, I spent a while searching online to find some new recipes that fit our needs.  I have some food restrictions, my son has some preferences and then we also needed meals that would be cheap, yet filling.  Then, I combined them with recipes I had on my computer that we haven't tried yet, along with ones we already love.  It took me 2 hours to come up with that list!  I like using highlighters, so I color-coded the different categories I was aiming for:


I only needed to plan 21 meals because 4 meals of the month on Fridays, I'm making homemade pizza and then Sundays I don't cook.  (21 meals + 4 pizza days + 5 Sundays = 30 days in April.)

After getting a list of 21 dinners, I then printed out all the recipes that I didn't have printed and combined them with the ones I did have in my recipe binders and put all of them in my meals folder.  I decided to keep a meals folder for the current month we are in and have all my recipes there for easy access.  When we make each meal, if we liked it, we will hole-punch the recipe and add it to my recipe binder.  I also paper-clipped the April calendar to the inside of the folder to keep it handy. 

You can see how I plan my meals on the calendar - I try and keep a variety going and space things out, so we aren't eating pasta several days in a row or the same meat, etc.  I tried to keep Mondays chicken, Tuesdays beef/pork/kielbasa, Wednesdays beans, Thursdays fish and Saturdays turkey and then worked in the extra meals in however they would fit best.

I then made lists of what we would need for breakfasts, lunches and snacks.  We decided to forego a lot of things this month to make this possible.  We cut out frozen pizzas, shrimp, chicken patties, chicken nuggets, bagel bites, half of the frozen burritos, corn dogs, chips, store-bought desserts, luxury items like dark chocolate hummus and expensive salsa, etc.  We also cut down things such as, instead of buying 12 bags of tortilla chips a month, we are only buying 4 and my kids put their names on theirs so one wouldn't eat them all up.  My husband and I are going to try and go without nacho and regular tortilla chips this month.  We also cut out lunch meat and are replacing it with beans, chicken breast, PB and tuna.  You'd be amazed at how much all that saved - it really does add up.

After this was done, I made inventories of what we had on hand in the freezer, pantry and fridge.  You can print out my free inventory sheets here to help you keep track of what you have on hand.  Once I hand my inventory completed, I went through each recipe and wrote down what was needed and then the quantity for each recipe.  I also went through my breakfasts, lunches and snacks lists and wrote what we needed to fulfill those for a month.  

After I had this list - I compared it with my inventory lists and marked off what I had and then wrote what was really needed on to my shopping list.  Voila!  Then, I went shopping at Aldi and Kroger and managed to get what I needed for $237.  That leaves me with $163 for the weekly trips for bread, milk and produce making our April grocery budget just $400; that's a savings of $400 for us!