Updated: March 23, 2021. Some prices may have changed
After realizing that I spend over $900 a month on groceries in 2015, I started looking for ways to save money. I gathered the receipts from 2015 and totalled the items based on product categories. The easiest way I started saving money was when I started reducing and/or eliminating items from our shopping list. However some categories took a bit of math and some time to find the savings. Here is a quick list of what I changed:
How I Started (think what, how, and when)...
By looking at what food we ate, how much food we ate in a setting, and when we ate can help you and your family eat will help create a budget and shopping plan that works for you. Using juice as an example, ask yourself:
How Much Juice Do I Drink:
- What is the serving size?
- How many people are drinking juice?
What Type of Juice Do I Drink:
- Are you drinking apple, orange, grape, etc.?
- Is it all natural, conventional, or organinc?
When am I drinking juice:
The following is an example of calculating the amount of orange juice needed based on the standard 59 fl.oz containers sold at our local Shoprite. Some store brand containers are 64 oz. but I calculated the number needed based on the smaller size because that is one that is often on sale at Shoprite.
|Type||Size||Daily Servings||Daily Total||Weekly||Amt. Needed||Monthly Amt.|
|Orange Juice||6 oz.||5||30 oz||210oz.||4||15|
I took the total amount of juice consumed in a week and divided by the size of the container (59 oz.) 210/59= 3.56. Then mulitply 3.56 by 4 and that is 14.23. So if we want to have juice everyday during the month then I need to purchase 15, 59 oz. container each month. UPDATE: Since our oldest is away at college, that number has decreased. I purchased 11, 59 oz. containers of orange juice.
2021 Update: Some brands are now sold in 52 oz. containers. I wait to buy a brand when it is on sale for, or below, $1.99. That is my maximum amount that I want to spend on orange juice. Our local ShopRite sells the frozen orange juice from concentrate for $1.99. The can makes 48 oz. but I dilute the juice to make 52 oz.. So I need to buy 13 containers of orange juice each month. At the most, I will spend $25.87 a month on orange juice. Some weeks Minute Maid Kids (59 oz.) will be on sale for $1.88 at ShopRite. Those are the weeks that I buy the limit of 4. Not only do I save $0.44 but I get 28 ounces more of orange juice.
Involve the children, if you can, when calculating the price per unit and overall savings. It's a great way to learn math!
1. Coffee Challenge:
My husband was running out of coffee sooner than my scheduled trip to Costco. I purchased the Daily Basics Ground Coffee at Aldi for $4.79/30.5 oz.. He liked it enough that it has replaced Kirkland's 100% Colombian Coffee $9.99/3lbs. Aldi averages $.08 a cup compared to Costco's $.105 a cup. My husband normally drinks 60 cups a month averaging 2 a day.
Costco Price: $6.30
Aldi Price: $4.80
Monthly Savings: $1.50
Yearly Savings: $18.00
2. Buttermilk Challenge:
I used to make pancakes most weekends with buttermilk. I would buy 4 quarts of buttermilk at Trader Joe's a month spending $6.76. I found recipes that don't use buttermilk. and I don't make them as often.
Total Monthly Savings: $6.76
Yearly Savings: $81.48
3. Bakery Challenge:
This was easy to say NO, when I started shopping without the children on Saturdays. When I shopped with my children at Whole Foods, a muffin and croissant would make the trip manageable. That came at a high price. 2-3 bakery items averaged $4.00-$6.00 each week. I was shopping at Whole Foods at least 5 times a month.
On average that's $25.00 a month and $300.00 a year I saved! Now that all of the children are in school, I try to go shopping without the kids.
4. English Muffin Challenge:
We love english muffins and would normally buy 3 packages at Trader Joe's. Each package is $1.79. Since I now shop at Trader Joe's once a month, english muffins have not been on my list. We save $5.37 a month and $64.44 a year. However, the yearly total may be somewhat lower if I buy one package every so often.
UPDATE: As much as I love Trader Joe's, I am retiring the store from my monthly shopping trips. I am able to find alternatives at other stores that are the same price or a bit cheaper elsewhere. My son would only eat the Bran Flakes from Trader Joe's but now will eat Aldi's Bran Flakes. Also, the 16 ounce bag frozen pineapple was a great deal at $1.99 but Costco has 5 pound bag of pineapple for $8.39. That's a savings of $1.56 a month.
2021 UPDATE: Well, I can't stay away from a good thing. I really like Trader Joe's. So my decision to remove it from my shopping rotation wasn't easy. Now my middle son doesn't like Aldi's Bran Flakes, It's back to Trader Joe's for their cereal!
5. Juice Challenge:
Although my children wish I didn't, I stopped buying apple juice and grape juice at the beginning of 2017. In 2016, I spent $161.82 on Mott's Organic Apple Juice at Costco and $26.66 on grape juice.
As of October 2017, the regular price of Mott's Organic Apple Juice at Costco is now $9.49 for 2/128 oz. containers.
Also, I stopped drinking orange juice, unless I am extremely sick and need the pick me up. That saves almost 1, 59 oz., container of juice a week and approximately $103.00 a year.
6. Nuts Challenge:
I've saved money buying nuts at Aldi. Although it is not a direct comparison with the mixed nuts at Costco, finding a less expensive alternative was important. The prices for nuts at Costco have increased and I wasn't comfortable spending $17.99/40 oz. The price per ounce is $.45. At Aldi, in a four week period I usually buy 2 mixed nut (2 x $4.29) and 1 package of almonds ($4.99) for $13.57.
Monthly Savings: $ 4.42
Yearly Savings: $53.04
7. Applesauce Challenge:
I switched back to buying 46 oz. containers from the 36 count Mott's Organic Applesause at Costco as the price increased. The price is $12.49 for 36 or $.35 per 3.9 oz. unit. Since I shop at Aldi, I purchase the Simply Nature All-Natural Applesauce for $1.89. I use a small 4 oz. twist top container for my childrens' lunches and fill it with a little over 3 ounces of applesauce. One container from Aldi can yield more than 12 portions.
|Brand||Price||Size||Unit Price||Monthly Costs||Yearly Costs|
|Mott's||$12.49||36/3.9 oz.||$.09 ($.35 per)||$12.49||$149.88|
8. Deli Meat & Cheese Challenge:
This, by far, is the biggest money saver for me. Since black forest ham was basically the only meat my youngest would eat, I shopped Whole Foods a lot. So much so that the deli staff knew my order! Since the ham has no nitrates, the shelf life is 4-5 days. I was so worried about running out of the ham that we shopped there at least 5 times a month, if not more. My kids lived on ham and cheese sandwiches for lunch at home and in school. Here's a look back at the receipts for 2015:
|June 2015 Dates||Amount||July 2015 Dates||Amount|
Since January of 2018, I am shopping once a month at Whole Foods for deli meats. My children have learned to like plain cheese sandwiches from the cheese I buy at Costco. I spent $10.22 on ham and cheese on January 6, but have averaged $12.29 from the start of the school year. If I take the higher total and multiplying it by 12, I am on track to spend 147.48 this year on deli items. That is a savings of... $841.92.
2021 Update: It's been a while since I shopped at Whole Foods Market. I've been buying sliced turkey at Costco once a month. Our local Costco now sells Dietz & Watson Organic Sliced Turkey for $13.79. The package is 1 lb. 11 oz.
Quick Tips to Save Money
- Elimate an item from your list you don't really need.
- Reduce the amount consumed, daily, weekly, monthly.
- Look for a less expensive alternative.
- Use coupons, if you can.