Every month when I share the ins and outs of our family’s finances, people are surprised at how little we spend on food for our family of five. Our goal is to always stay under $300, which we have done every month except January ($317). For the past 8 months (Jan-Aug 2014) the average amount we spent on groceries was $239. We had one no-spend month in there, which brings the average down.
Cooking From Scratch
One of the major contributing factors to our low grocery budget is that we buy ingredients instead of prepared or convenience food. Prepared food, whether it be from a restaurant, take-out, or from the grocery store, is generally more expensive than cooking your own meal from scratch. As you become accustomed to home-cooked foods, your taste buds won’t let you go back to prepared foods.
When we get home from our big monthly grocery shopping trip to Winco and Sam’s Club, we still don’t “have anything to eat.” Besides fresh fruits and veggies there isn’t anything we can dig right into. It all needs to be prepared. Next month, I will be showing you exactly what a month of SixFiguresUnder grocery shopping looks like.
Every family’s budget, tastes, and preferences are different, so everyone’s grocery list will vary. If you’re used to having mostly prepared and convenience foods, make small changes each month, so that the changes will be sustainable and not overwhelming. As you look through your shopping list see what items you could replace with ingredients.
Here are a few ideas:
Instead of buying a club sandwich from the deli near work, buy the ingredients to make your own sandwich to bring with you.
Instead of buying cans of soup, buy the ingredients to make a big pot of soup in the crock pot. Eat half for dinner and freeze the rest.
Instead of buying boxed pasta dinners (Pasta Roni, Hamburger Helper, etc.) or frozen lasagnas, buy the dry pasta and other ingredients to make it yourself.
Additional Benefits of Cooking From Scratch
Cooking from scratch is healthier, which will save you money in the long run when it comes to health and medical-related costs. When you cook from scratch, the ingredients are fresher and do not require any chemical preservatives.
Besides being cheaper and healthier, food cooked from scratch tastes better! From mashed potatoes to chocolate chip cookies, fresh bread to chicken noodle soup, the homemade version is always tastier than the alternative.
Do What Works For You
Cooking from scratch isn’t the only way to save on food costs. For some lifestyles and personal preferences, cooking from scratch all the time may not work. If you are interested in lowering your food expenses, consider at least experimenting with cooking from scratch.
If you have a busy schedule, take advantage of slow cooker meals. You will be amazed at the variety of healthy, delicious, and inexpensive meals you can cook in your slow cooker with very limited preparations.
Some of My Favorites
Here are a few favorites below.
You can find more great ideas here!
How About You?
- Is cooking from scratch worth the savings for you?
- What ideas do you have to help others get started cooking from scratch?
- What are your favorite meals to cook from scratch?