How can I cut my grocery bill while still eating healthy? (Spoiler alert – there is no couponing or apps involved…)
If you are like me being a working mum with a big family, food shopping can be dreadful and expensive. I am sure you have the best intention to feed your family as healthy as possible, but that seems to always come with a hefty price tag.
Do you know…
The average food shop for a family of 4 is £103 ($126) per week (not including takeaways). That’s over £5,356 a year.
As we are in an economic crisis post-COVID-19, many of you are either on a reduced wage or even lost your job. So finding ways to stretch the grocery bill becomes more necessary than ever before.
What if I tell you that you can cut your food bill and save £1000 ($1300) a year just by changing a few habits?
For the past a few years, I have been using a “grocery shopping” process that keeps my spending consistently below £80 per week, feeding a family of 4.
No time-consuming couponing and confusing apps involved.
Here are my 9 tried and tested ways to cut your grocery bill while still eating healthy.
#1. Plan Before You Shop
(If there is one thing to take away from this post, this will be it.)
One of the best ways to cut your grocery bill while still eating healthy is by doing your weekly meal plan prior to grocery shopping.
There are many benefits to doing a weekly meal plan:
- Intentionally make healthy choices for the week
- Cut the cost down as you only buy what you planned for
- Decrease the number of trips to the grocery store, therefore, saves time and fuel
- Reduce waste
Here are the 5 simple steps that I go about doing my weekly meal plan & shopping list:
- Start on one half of the paper with dinner ideas, as this is the main meal for most of the family. Write down what you are going to have each day of the week.
- Plan to cook larger portions of dinner, so you can save them for lunch, or freeze them for another night.
- On the other half of the paper, write down all the ingredients required for these meals in these categories: Fruits, Veggie, Meat, Frozen, Dairy, Pantry, Non-food.
- Add additional breakfast, lunch and healthy snack items required for the week.
- Anything else not related to the meals can be added last.
Leave the last dinner of the week as a leftover day. It might be a bit of hotchpotch, but this will help you to use up all the extra leftovers you have in the fridge.
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#2. Never Go Shopping Hungry
Do you remember the time you were doing grocery shopping when you were starving? Did you follow your nose to the bakery aisle, or end up picking grabbing a huge bag of chips to eat while you were shopping?
I’ve done both…
When you are hungry, your will power is at the lowest, therefore least likely to stick to your shopping list. We often end up picking grabbing a few items that were not on the list, and chances are they are not healthy items.
So another easy way to cut your grocery bill while eating healthy is a lesson learned from our own experience – never go shopping hungry.
#3. Do the Bulk of Your Grocery in Aldi (or Lidl)
Disclaimer: I am NOT affiliated with either store. I simply find Aldi and Lidl are the best value for money without sacrificing the quality of the food. In fact, there are particular items I prefer from Aldi as the quality is better and/or produced locally. (I’m including Lidl here, as it is very similar, but my experience is mostly based on Aldi)
This is another major strategy when it comes to cutting grocery bills.
The weeks that I shop in Aldi for the bulk of my groceries and supplement special items from other stores, I can consistently achieve my £80 ($100)/week budget, whereas if I just shop in other branded stores like Tesco, Sainsbury, my grocery bill easily goes up above £100 ($120)/week.
Apparently, I am not the only one who loves Aldi & Lidl for their value for money, they are ranked the 3rd and 4th of the Best In-Store Supermarkets in the UK from 14,049 members of Which magazine, despite their lack of store appearance, product range etc.
Here are a few interesting facts about Aldi (both UK and US):
- It tries to source seasonal and local produce (grown in the UK) as much as possible.
- Some of the Aldi branded products are actually made by the same company that makes for the established brands just with Aldi’s packaging and a fraction of the cost.
- Aldi’s strategy is to offer everyday low prices instead of complicated promotions and couponing. Only 8% of Aldi products are on offer at any given time, compared with the 40% industry standard.
- The LiveGFree has an amazing range of Gluten-free products.
- There are plenty of healthy products from Aldi’s own Simply Nature line.
- It’s the cousin company of Trader Joe’s both offer mostly house brands, amazing prices, and good quality of foods.
#4. Stockpile the Staples
If you don’t have an Aldi (or Lidl) near you or simply can’t stand the type of store, this tip is for you.
Stockpile the staples, especially those ones with long(ish) shelve life.
Most items go on sale every 6-8 weeks, so buy enough that will last you until it goes on sale again.
Here is a list of items that can be expensive on regular prices, so always stock up when they are on sale.
- Coffee & teas
- Breakfast cereals
- Healthy snacks
- Frozen fruits, veg, seafood
- Canned Tuna, crab meat, beans (of all kinds), tomatoes
#5. Use Discount Stores
Sometimes there are staple items that you just can’t get from Aldi and they are rarely on sale from branded stores. Another way to lower your grocery bill is to shop in special discount stores.
I only discovered this by accident.
When I stopped by The Food Warehouse near work one day and noticed they sell many items I buy on a regular basis for half of the price (without having any sale on!)
For us, these are Chocolate Weetabix (it’s a UK thing), Fibre One Chocolate Brownie, Tassimo Costa coffee capsules…
So I make a trip once a couple of months to stockpile these items to minimise the number of visits. Just by doing that alone, I can easily save £400 a year which makes it a great way to cut the grocery bill.
Other discount stores worth checking out are B&M, & Iceland in the UK.
Stores like this in the US are more regional. Smaller grocers like Market Basket (in northeastern region), Winco on the west coast and Midwest, and Food4Less in California, Illinois, Indianan, and Ohio are worth a visit.
#6. Minimise the Number of Trips
Another effective way to lower your grocery bill is to reduce the number of times that you visit the supermarket.
…By having a weekly plan. If you don’t plan a week ahead of time, you will find yourself visiting the grocery stores multiple times a week.
Not only do you end up spending more money (because when was the last time you went to the store to get 1 thing, and came out with just 1?), it costs you extra time and fuel for every additional trip.
So once you have done your weekly planning, aim for less than 2 trips a week to cover everything on your list.
#7. Eat Less Meat
Cutting meat out a couple of times a week can reduce as much as $1000 (£800) a year!
Ok, I am not here to preach vegetarianism or veganism, but what many studies have shown is that “red meats (like beef, lamb, pork), and processed meats (bacon, sausages, deli meats) are metabolised to toxins that cause damage to our blood vessels and other organs. This toxic process has been linked to heart disease and diabetes” [Source: www.health.harvard.edu]
So eating a meat-free dinner (especially red meat) 2 nights a week is not only a great way to cut your grocery bill, but an improvement to your health.
Here are my 6 favourite healthy Vegetarian recipes that my meat-loving husband and children LOVE (plus some of them are Slimming world friendly)
- Slow-cooked Chocolate Vegetarian Chilli
- Turmeric Cauliflower Soup (this one is the BOMB! – my kids can’t get enough of it)
- Slimming World Slow-cooked Mac & Cheese (another one of my girls favourite)
- Mushroom Burrito Bowl
- Roasted Butternut squash Kale Salad
- Cheese & Veggie Muffins (this is a great hearty snack option)
#8. Cook to Freeze, avoid Ready Made Meals
If you are like me, we don’t have the luxury of spending an hour cooking every night, especially during the week. There are days that heating things up is all we have time (and energy) for.
But buying ready-made meals for a family of 4 a few nights a week can rack up your grocery bill pretty quickly. Instead, we double the portion for the meals that we do cook, and freeze it for a quick meal night in the future.
Not only can these pre-made meals be full of fat, but they are also often packed with additives and preservatives.
Christine Hradek, a State Nutrition Specialist from Low State University did an experiment below to demonstrate how a homemade meal is not only cheaper but healthier than a pre-made meal.
Check out these recipes that are less than 1/3 of the cost of pre-made meals.
|Meal||Pre-made Meal Cost||Home Made Meal Cost||Saving in %|
|Better-for-you Macaroni Cheese||£2.5||£0.63||75%|
|Chicken Tikka Masala||£3.50||£0.94||73%|
|Chilli Con Carne||£3.50||£0.85||75%|
#9. Eat What’s In Season
The last tip on ways to cut your grocery bill while eating healthy is to eat what’s in season.
Think about supply vs. demand for a second.
When produce are in season, the supply is likely bigger than the demand, therefore lowering the price of the item. If you buy produce that is in season, your grocery bill will benefit from the lower price too.
In addition to being cost effective, here are other benefits of eating seasonally:
- Richer flavour
- Better nutrition
- Environmentally friendly (Less carbon footprint)
- Supporting local producers
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Final Thoughts on Ways to Cut Your Food Bill:
So here you have it, my 9 tried and tested ways to cut your food bill while eating healthy. Did any of these tips surprise you?
What would you do with an extra $13000 (£1000) a year?
Please leave comments below, I’d love to hear from you!