Limit Your Grocery Budget to $400 a Month and Build Your Emergency Fund!
Most Americans spend anywhere from $600 – $720 a month on groceries–that’s according to a recent Gallup poll. Food is, by far, the second largest expense for most of us, outside of our rent or mortgage payment.
Over 60% of us don’t have a $1000 emergency savings fund; hence, we are not prepared to face even a small financial emergency. Building a $1000 cash reserve is a critical step that will help you move towards financial freedom. So how can you do this without having to spend endless hours on reworking your budget?
One, easy way to start building your emergency fund is to take a fresh look at this second highest budget category, your food budget, and find ways to put a hard limit on how much you spend every month on feeding your family.
You may be thinking that this will require you and your loved ones to live on bread and water, but that’s really not true.
We’ve compiled some great resources to help you limit your food budget to $400 a month for a family of 4. if you’ve been spending $600+ on groceries before, this one small change will free up $200+ a month that you can start setting aside for your $1000 emergency fund. In 5 months or less, you can be sitting on $1000 of savings you never knew you had!
Aldi + Meal Planning
You already know this, but going grocery shopping without a firm list is a big no-no. What’s even better is planning all of your meals ahead of time and going shopping with your weekly menu in hand. Combine your weekly planning with a great discount store like Aldi, and you have a winning combination. Keep in mind that, because Aldi is already deeply discounted, you won’t be able to use any coupons while shopping there.
We found one mom who’s able to feed her family for less than $50 a week by buying groceries at Aldi. In her post, she provides you with a list of groceries as well as 6 dinner recipes. If you have limited time, you can follow this mom’s meal plan, or make your own, if you have as little more creative energy. The bottom line is this: spending one hour a week planning can save your $200 a month or more. We think it’s a great investment of your time.
Make Your Breakfast (less than $0.50 per serving or $15 per month!)
If you’re in the habit of stopping by to grab a “quick” muffin or biscuit in the morning, you should start making your own! You can get 6 english muffins and a dozen eggs for less than $4 total. If you ate one egg muffin a day for the entire month, your breakfast would cost you a whopping $15!
Other extremely cheap and nutritious breakfast options include oatmeal, cottage cheese & fruit, and making your own pancakes or waffles during the weekend, which you can freeze and use for the entire week.
If you plan your menu well, your breakfast items for a family of 4 should not run you more than $60 – $70 a month, and that includes occasional splurges on bacon, breakfast sausage, etc.
$7 Dinner Challenge
Dinners, by far, will be your most costly meals, but what if you could stick to a price-tag of $7 / dinner for a family of four? If you can do that, you’ll spend $210 a month on your dinners.
You may be thinking that $7 is not enough, but let me assure you, you can make really good, well-rounded meals for $7. We’ve started a Pinterest board dedicated to Meals on a Budget where you can find tasty recipes for as little as $5 for a family of four! Follow us on Pinterest and you can get regular updates with tasty, budget-friendly recipes.
Here are a few tips on making thrifty dinners:
– Be careful which cuts of meat you choose. Buying 4 chicken quarters is much cheaper than purchasing chicken breasts. So you can still have chicken dinners but for half the price!
– Soups are insanely cheap. You can pick one day a week and call it your “Soup Sunday,” for example. Serving a bowl of tomato basil soup with a simple grill cheese will be delicious and inexpensive.
– How about introducing meatless dishes? Veggie fried rice is super easy, super delicious and super cheap to make. You can even make enough to have leftovers, and all under your $7 budget!
Between keeping your dinners at $210 a month and your breakfast at $60 or $70, you’ll have $120 left for lunches!
BOGO + Coupons + Loyalty
If you don’t have an Aldi or another deep discount store close by, i’m sure your traditional grocery store is running BOGO (Buy One Get One) sales all the time. If you are not taking advantage of BOBO’s, you should! They can save you a ton on food and toiletries, especially if you combine them with coupons.
If you don’t have the time or the energy to cut out coupons, that’s OK! Make technology your friend. Consumer Report released a list of best coupon apps for both Android and iPhone that will help you save additional dollars without a whole lot of effort on your part. Check those apps out and let us know how they perform for you!
As always, combine your savvy shopping with Mvelopes budget planning, and you will be on your way to save your $1000 in no time, just by changing your meal strategy.
With Mvelopes, you can create one envelope for groceries OR you could create 3 envelopes, one for breakfast, one for dinner, and one for lunch items. It would require a little more managment, but this way you could track your spending in more detail, which makes it a lot easier to make targeted adjustments to stay on track.