Did you know it was possible to bake an entire loaf of bread with a giant bubble/hole through the center of the loaf?
Well, it certainly is when you take the dough out of the bread maker and bake it yourself in the oven. But no worries, as the saying goes, when life hands you bread with a hole, make breakfast!
Not the saying you’re familiar with? (Shrugs shoulders)
I’ve been baking up a bread storm recently, which I need to get in check because eating a loaf every 2 days by myself is getting excessive. Still, I’m loving it. With the help of my bread maker (I have this one) I’ve enjoyed freshly baked bread for cheaper than a bakery and with no artificial ingredients whatsoever. It not only tastes (and smelllssss) amazing, but it’s saving us some money too.
Recently we’ve cracked down (yet again) on our grocery budget. It’s been rising (yet again) and we wanted to take a closer look as to why. I know one definite reason is we’ve been eating at home more, which we will continue to do for sometime after Saturday night’s circus at Bad Daddy’s.
High chairs are not Kaitlyn’s thing. The girl likes to be in the action. Maybe we’ll try dinner out again in about 3 years.
The focus on the budget isn’t to make the bill as low as possible (though lower certainly is better, amiright?), but to be more aware of what we are spending and keep it in check. Here are 5 ways I’m reining in our grocery expenses…
1. Using up the freezer inventory. Recently we were gifted about 15 pounds of grass-fed beef in different cuts. I know, I know, incredible! I’m making sure to incorporate it into our weekly plan, but while filling the freezer, I came across some frozen chicken and a couple bags of frozen vegetables that had been in there a while. In effort to not let them expire and go to waste, I am writing them into the meal plan. That goes for the pantry too!
2. Making a list to avoid grabbing pricey extras. I’m pretty great at sticking to a list, but sure enough as I’m checking out I see one of these beauties and can’t help myself. Though I love them, I need to account for them in the budget and not just consider them a freebie, as tossing a few in the cart will jack up the bill quickly. So instead, I pull a Santa and make a list, write it out twice (I know I’m not the only one), then stick to it.
3. Add in at least one cheaper meal per week. THIS IS BRAND NEW INFORMATION said none of you ever, but I got out of the habit of vegetarian meals, cheaper cuts of meat or leftovers and now that I’m incorporating them again, it’s easy to see a difference in the grocery bill. This crock pot black bean soup is a regular in the rotation, as David says it is his favorite meatless meal at the moment.
4. Buying alcohol separately. The grocery store really isn’t the cheapest place to buy beer and wine, but I find myself doing it anyway because, well, motherhood requires it but doesn’t allow for shopping at multiple stores on a regular basis. This month we created a separate budget for alcohol and bought it all ahead of time. I considered Total Wine, but actually found better prices at Walmart.
This bottle of Josh wine is usually $14-$15 at my grocery store.
5. Investing in from-scratch items. I groaned a little as I had to buy more flour (my favorite) and a new bottle of yeast, together totally about $10. However, once I considered how many pizzas or loaves of bread it would make me, I realized how it is saving me money overall, and for a higher quality product.
I hit up both Whole Foods and Harris Teeter for this week’s food haul and it totaled about $165, including 15 cans of no-salt-added green beans for Koda and a couple non-food items like tin foil and an aluminum pan to take some of these to a friend. I feel pretty good about that, especially since we are eating at home now for the foreseeable future.
BONUS: Along the idea of from-scratch, I like to use every ingredient to it’s maximum capacity. Last night’s roasted chicken remains went into the crockpot with my freezer broth bag (#8 here) and is now ready to be used in Thursday’s vegetable beef soup. Last Friday’s extra pizza dough was frozen, then used for Hailey and Kaitlyn’s dinner last night. Leftover rice can be put into soup, etc. I realllllly hate to throw away food and try to get creative about incorporating leftovers wherever I can.
*Looking for lunch ideas? I was too and y’all gave me a ton of great ideas (thank you!) on my facebook page, so check them out if you’re in a rut.
Do you keep a close eye on your grocery bill?
What do you find makes the biggest difference in how much you spend?
Brittany @ Delights and Delectables says
Meal planning really helped my grocery bill. Also, shopping what is on sale! Great tips here girl!
Do you have any great bread machine recipes? I have one but just haven’t really used it and would love to start. Yeast intimidates me!
Brittany Dixon says
I’m not a bread recipe loyalist and am experimenting now to find a favorite. I’ve used the ones that came with the machine, but have also used about every recipe that pops up when you google bread machine recipe. As soon as I find my favorite I will definitely share it!
Marnie @ SuperSmartMama says
Great list of tips! I’m constantly working on tip #1 (freezer inventory) because lately I’ve been buying my meats in bulk which requires I portion them and freeze the remainder for later use. And, because my freezer isn’t exactly huge, sometime it’s difficult to remember what I have in there despite my attempts to label well and organize.
Brittany Dixon says
My freezer isn’t huge either and I sometimes daydream about all I would prep and freeze if I had a deep freezer 😉
Thanks for the tips! I’m curious if you’ve ever tried couponing and/or looking at the sales in the store’s weekly flyers and planning your weekly list from there? I used to do that and it saved a lot of money but it is time-consuming eventually fell by the wayside. I’m curious if anyone has tips on how to easily make it work, though!
I’m also curious as to how you budget for non-food essentials like toilet paper, paper towels, shampoo, toothpaste, etc. I love hearing about how you budget for food (and love seeing pics of your grocery cart!) but am just wondering how/when/where you buy those other essentials that add up in price as well.
Brittany Dixon says
I have tried couponing but it really didn’t work well for me. I found the time and energy I put into it wasn’t worth what I was saving since it took me longer to scour for coupons that I actually wanted to use. I found coupons for fresh foods or products I like were hard to come by. I’ve seen some people do amazing things with couponing, but I just don’t think it’s for me.
I probably need to focus more on budgeting for the non-food essentials. I typically buy all those items in bulk by either tagging along with a friend to BJs or through Amazon!
Erin @ Her Heartland Soul says
I love that Josh wine! So does my husband, Josh. 😀
Taca @ A Side Of Dessert says
I really love this post! We don’t keep track of our grocery bill but we really should since I know we spend a lot. I also try to use all the leftovers and we do a pretty good job on this front. I love making a vegetarian chilli that we can eat for a few days and its definitely a cheaper meal. Thank for sharing all your tips!
I love your pizza dough recipe but how do you freeze it? I’ve tried twice and it doesn’t turn out good. It’s like it turns a weird brown color and doesn’t cook through and is very flat.
Brittany Dixon says
Oh I’m sorry to hear that! I just break part of it off, make sure it’s completely cooled, then wrap it in plastic wrap and stick it in a freezer bag. I pull it out the morning I want to use it and let it defrost in the fridge. That usually works pretty well for me!
Liz @ I Heart Vegetables says
These are great tips! We order our groceries online (from a local place that has pick up locations all over the city) which is super helpful when trying to stick to a list! But their alcohol prices aren’t good, so we’e been doing the “separate run for wine” also 🙂
a list is so helpful in staying on budget! I have been using a new app that lets you track everything you need. Also taking inventory of what you already have on hand and getting creative saves a lot!
Brittany Dixon says
I have heard of some awesome apps lately! I’m tempted to try them out but really love pen and paper. I still keep a paper planner too! Maybe one day I’ll join the 21st century 😉
What fortuitous timing on this post — I just spent way more than expected that the grocery store this weekend and decided its time to reign it back in. I expect to spend a fair amount at the grocery store each week because we eat 90% of our meals at home/bringing food from home to work. Buuuut, there is a limit to how much we should spent! Definitely agree on the vegetarian meals as one way to save money. Also, since there are just two of us, we always have a ton of dinner leftovers — like I said, we’re great about taking them for lunch but, even after that, we still have some leftover! So, we need to get better about having “clean out the refrigerator” nights. Finally, making multiple meals that use a lot of the same ingredients can be a great way to save money, too. For instance, corn tortillas are super-cheap and come in huge bags, so we can make two tortilla-based meals out of it. And using a list is hands-down the best way to save money. I use GroceryWiz to make my list and the Kroger app to take advantage of those e-coupons!
Brittany Dixon says
Love that! Great tip about multiple meals using the same ingredient! I do this with herbs too. If I buy cilantro, I can use it for a Mexican meal, a soup and an Indian dish. It makes it worth buying the fresh herbs!
Thank goodness my baby isn’t the only one who resists the high chair!! Every time we see a mild-mannered, quite child in a high chair my husband and I look at each other and wonder, “how do they get their baby to do that???”
Anyway, man, groceries surely do get expensive. I think our small family has a couple of struggles that make the budget higher. For one, I eat a vegetarian diet almost all the time, and my husband does not. That means not only spending money on meat, it means we often eat two different things. I do try to plan meals that work for both of us (and he does eat meatless meals a few times a week without issue), but I think us eating different things does make the bill go up. Also, I used to have plenty of time to cook from scratch. I always made beans from scratch, often baked bread, made cookies and sweet things from scratch, etc., but now with a little one I find my time for that is pretty limited. I do have a bread machine, which I sometimes use, and once in a while I get it together to make beans from scratch, but my capacity for doing that is definitely less than it used to be.
In an ideal world we would have an unlimited grocery budget!
Brittany Dixon says
Hailey was one of those babies that sat nicely and ate her meals. I figured all kids were like that (HA!), Kaitlyn can Houdini her way out of all of them 😉 Glad to hear we aren’t alone!
Hi, does anyone know of an app where you can keep a reoccurring grocery list and just check off ones you need each week? Write now I just hand write it and it’s the same things each week
Elizabeth Evans says
Costco has the best prices on wine! I also love buying meat from Costco – you can’t beat the quality and price.
I never really paid attention to the grocery bill before I had Elizabeth, but now that we have her and she is eating too I have really started to pay attention. Especially over the past few weeks my grocery bill has sky rocketed. However, I started thinking about it and I am buying more food, but I have been making extra, so that I can put food away in the freezer for when Baby #2 gets here. I feel like if I separated out the meals that I have been making it would actually cost me more money to make them multiple times b/c when they are made all at once I can buy larger cans of beans, tomatoes and things like that, so I save a few pennies here and there. I am hoping that this freezer stocking kick I have been on will continue b/c I think in the long run it will save my sanity on days that I don’t want to cook and could save us some money.
I haven’t been paying close attention to the grocery list in a while, and I can definitely see how that has negatively affected our budget, as well as not meal planning. We’ve decided to get back at it and not only inventory our pantry and freezer, but make a point to make sure nothing goes to waste. I’m going to try and start doing some real meal planning – I just need to find a system that works really well for us and remains easy, but keeps us from getting bored.
Laura @FitMamaLove says
I love some of these tips! That’s so cool that you found wine for cheaper at Walmart! Sometimes our grocery store can have good deals on it, especially when they have a sale, and they always give a discount if you buy six bottles at a time. Costco has good prices too! I’m really bad about our grocery bill and don’t pay much attention to it at all. I do love to stretch a roasted chicken as much as possible. Broth is going in our crockpot with freezer veggies today too! 🙂
My grocery budget is $80/week for my boyfriend and I. The biggest way we same money is by only buying meat that’s on sale and then stocking up. It’s amazing how quickly our bill can shoot up if we get into the habit of buying meat every week.
We do breakfast for dinner once a week. The kids love it and it’s cheap and easy! Everyone wins!
Lauren @ Oh Hey I Like That! says
Oh the Boyfriend and I are just about to go through this! The problem in my house is that my boyfriend and roommate are guys with cheetah-quick metabolism and would be happy ordering food in every night (even though my boyfriend is an excellent cook). After realizing that money quickly dwindles that way, I said that we need to create a grocery budget and start making more meals here. I am so grateful for your blog where I get lots of great ideas!
Meal planning really helped us with our grocery bill too, but it was so easy to start getting away from it. We have been consistent in making a lot of food to last throughout the week on Sundays though so that’s helped. Great tips!
Vegetarian meals and breakfast for dinner help keep my grocery spending in check.
These tofu tacos are a stand by. I don’t follow the whole recipe, just the technique for the tofu preparation.
Our budget is pretty tight in all areas, so we have to be pretty strict on groceries. We try really hard to keep our bi-weekly budget at $300. It’s doable when I plan and when we are really good at eating our leftovers! Spending money on food is always a thorn in my side…it’s such a necessary evil! 🙂
Christina R says
Would love to make my own bread – do you have recipes?
Going back a couple of posts, I am so glad to hear that Koda is doing well. Go girl!
I love how neat your handwriting is on your grocery list. I too keep a list “aisle” wise but not quite as neat as yours! It helps so much to know your grocery store and where things are.
We have a great bread recipe that is ( in our honest opinion) the best ever. If you like crusty bread and a moist crumb that is perfect either for toasting or sandwiches, this is the one to beat. It takes time but hardly any effort. I can provide a link to our recipe data base is anyone is interested.
Jen T says
Walmart is probably one of the cheapest places to buy wine. They wanted to get more aggressive in the wine game, so they only work on 11% margin. Whole Foods works on 40+% just sayin! 🙂
Our bill is getting out of control! There are just 2 of us plus baby. But I make enough food for my husband to have lunch for work and my mom to have lunch, as she watches our son during the day. The extra portions add up fast! I try not too grab much that’s not on the list. I also try to get diapers stocked up when they’re on sale.
Our grocery store has a gas station chain and they have a cool program where you get a certain amount of cents off each gallon of gas. So this weeks haul earned me .62 cents off each gallon when I fill up!
Julia @ LordStillLovesMe says
Considering I am on my school’s meal plan right now, I have no sense of how to budget. This actually kind of freaks me out because I am a very $$ conscious human being, and I want to ensure that I do not go crazy when I am on my own. I find blog posts like this to be ridiculously useful! Especially coming from you- Brittany, you are always so REAL. It’s why I keep coming back to your “slice of life.” 😉