We have spent A LOT on groceries over the years. We value eating organic, whole foods so for a long time I thought that just meant we had to pay an arm and a leg every time we went to the store. We were spending around $900-1000 per month on groceries for our family of (at the time) four. Yikes! When we started to follow Dave Ramsey’s principles for Financial Peace, I became determined to figure out how to save money on organic groceries. Keep reading to learn the nine simple tips that helped us shave $300 off our grocery bill every month!
I shared here about our story when it comes to our relationship with money and some of the lessons we’ve been learning. When we were looking to make margin in our budget, one of the areas in our budget that I knew we had the most significant ability to cut back was our grocery budget, but I was hesitant to do that… I thought it meant we would be eating rice and beans every night, or that I would have to seriously compromise the quality of our food to do it.
Over the past several months I have experimented with all different ways to lower our spending on groceries and this is what works for us. There are lots of great ways to cut back on grocery spending and everyone has to find their system, but this is what WORKS and is SUSTAINABLE for us (‘cause let’s face it… no one really wants to just eat rice and beans every day).
If saving money while eating organic is your thing, check out this One Week Frugal Meatless Meal Plan. One week of frugal meals for under $60! Download the meal plan and printable grocery list below!
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Here’s how we feed our family of five organic food on $600 per month.
Money saving tip 1: Meal plan and make a list.
At the beginning of the month, I make a list of about 21 meals that I want to make that month. By planning a month at a time, I’m able to shop in bulk and make sure that the items I’m buying won’t go to waste. We recently got a Costco, which has saved us SO much time and money! Check out this post for tips on how to buy in bulk without wasting money!
But not to worry, you can still save money on groceries even if you don’t have a Costco available. My second favorite store to shop at is Aldi. If Costco and Aldi aren’t options, Kroger is my third choice but you really have to work the coupons and keep an eye on the total in order to not overspend!
Whether you’re planning for a month or for a week or two, really think through your list in advance. Check your calendar. Are you going to be really busy? You might need to buy things that lend themselves towards quicker, on-the-go sort of meals. Are you going to be home? You might be able to include more labor intensive meals. Make sure you put all the ingredients that you will need on your list. Make sure you even plan out what you’ll be eating for breakfasts and snacks so that you can get everything from one shopping trip.
Make a fully comprehensive grocery list…. Then STICK TO THE LIST.
Money saving tip 2. we only buy what we need.
This feels like the trickiest part. When I started cutting back on our grocery budget I realized how much I had been over-buying. In reality, when we make the most of every bit of leftovers we have, we only need about half of the food I thought we did. The rest would go bad before we could eat it. It takes a little practice, but if you’re keeping a close eye on your groceries, you will learn the right amounts to buy to last you whatever length of time you’re shopping for.
DO NOT ADD things to your cart just because they are on sale unless you already needed it! Do not impulse buy! Don’t even go look at the places of the store that don’t have something on your list in them. If you do add something to your cart that wasn’t on the list, see if you can bump something else off the list to balance it out.
Money saving tip 3: We balance higher priced meals with more frugal meals.
We eat some form of breakfast for dinner at least 1-2 times each week. We also throw in some meatless meals fairly regularly, which significantly cuts the cost. Another amazing resource we have is frozen venison. Our deep freezer has a healthy supply of frozen venison processed in a variety of ways. If you hunt, venison is an economical and excellent source of protein (talk about free range!)
Some of our favorite budget recipes include…
- Salmon patties
- Black Bean soup
- Taco Bowls
- Lentil Soup
- Quinoa bowls with hard boiled eggs & roast vegetables
- Chicken soup
- Homemade tomato soup and open faced sourdough grilled cheese
- Homemade macaroni and cheese
Money saving tip 4: We make as much as we can from scratch.
When you start with the least processed version of the food possible, it’s wayyy cheaper and healthier!
Here are some of the things I started making myself out of things I was already buying:
- English muffins
- BBQ sauce
- Pizza Sauce
- Chicken Broth
- Tomato Soup
- Salad dressing
- Flavored coffee creamer
- Snacks for the kids
Obviously, making everything yourself isn’t always convenient. That’s also why I check my calendar before I meal plan. I know that if my meal plan for the week includes only meals that involve every aspect being made from scratch, it won’t get made and then we’ll run through a drive through.
If I know it’s a busy season, you bet we’re going to be buying some bread and deli meat and heck maybe even a frozen pizza. In the seasons that are slower, we try to make the most of it and really capitalize on those frugal dishes that may take a little longer to prepare. To save time, I try to make double batches of things and freeze the leftovers whenever possible.
(Sidenote: The Instapot is completely a game changer when it comes to saving time while making whole food! If you haven’t tried one, you’re missing out!).
Money saving tip 5: We stopped wasting food.
I was appalled at how much food we were wasting once I really started to pay attention to it. I started to view repurposing the leftovers as an art, and honestly, it’s a really fun creative outlet when you view it that way! Leftover tomato soup gets snuck into macaroni and cheese or some sort of casserole. Leftover chicken can be put on a flatbread or incorporated into soup. Leftover canned pumpkin can be made into pumpkin butter and used to top pancakes or to flavor and sweeten oatmeal. Get creative! Sometimes it might mean your dinner is an unusual combination of dishes, but it’s worth it for the savings!
Money saving tip 6: We stopped going to multiple stores.
I realized that every store I stepped foot in automatically increased the grocery bill significantly, because I never just got the one or two things I needed from that store. Each store exponentially added to the opportunity to impulse buy.
Now when I meal plan, I try to consider the store I will be shopping at and select meals where all the ingredients are available at that store. If that particular store doesn’t have the ingredients, I may sub the missing ingredient with something else or I will just pick a different meal. This has saved so much time, hassle, and headache!
Money saving tip 7: We became open to change.
Sure, maybe we like this particular yogurt brand from this particular store, but if we feel like we “have” to eat that for breakfast every day, we’re going to “have” to go to that store to get it, and we might pick up a handful of unnecessary items on the way.
Instead, we find the work around. We can either try a different type of yogurt that’s available at the store we’re already going to, or we can decide to eat oatmeal or pancakes for breakfast instead.
Money saving tip 8: We switched to cheaper produce.
While we love things like berries, they are on the dirty dozen list and the organic versions are just so expensive. We select produce based on the season, the clean fifteen list, and the price. This means we eat our fair share of organic apples, bananas, oranges, frozen peas, and cabbage. If it’s on the clean fifteen list, we almost always buy the conventionally grown version. If it’s on the dirty dozen list, we try to buy organic when possible.
Money saving tip 9: We started buying in bulk at Costco and Amazon.
I had already managed to cut my grocery spending significantly before Costco moved into town, so I know that the tips above work regardless of the store; however, I have really grown to love Costco.
My current grocery shopping routine includes shopping once a month at Costco, placing one order a month on Amazon, and going to Aldi for a quick, mini trip here or there to pick up some more produce in between. I love that Costco has affordable organic meat, so we always stock up on that when we’re there as well as some other staple foods like rice, quinoa, avocado oil, almond milk, and frozen organic vegetables. Since we bake a lot, I buy organic flour in bulk on amazon. I use this flour to feed my sourdough starter, and this flour for all of my other baking.
I was concerned that buying in bulk would lend itself to overbuying and overspending; however, I have found that if I am selective in what I buy at Costco, it actually saves us a ton of money. I only do one big shopping trip a month, saving me the weekly “grocery day” that is oh so fun to do with three kids in tow.
I also have found that having such a large volume of some of the staples enables me to whip up easy meals in less time than it would have taken me to run to the store or through a drive through to pick up something “quick and easy.”
There you have it! How to save money on organic groceries – it’s not rocket science, but it’s what has worked for us to be able to slash hundreds from our grocery budget. I suspect that I could get the total down to $500 or even lower if I was really diligent, but I don’t like to feel completely strapped when I’m at the grocery store unless it’s really necessary.
It IS possible to feed your family healthy, real food on a budget. It just takes some planning! How do you balance living on a budget with feeding your family healthy foods?