My food budget is one place that I manage to blow our budget almost every month. I have a weakness for fresh, local food, stocking up on sales, and trying new products that translates into spending too much. My ideal food budget is $150/week, but recently when I crunched the numbers I was spending over $300/week (yes, Costco trips included). That translated to over $1,200 a month on food…. Um… that’s also my mortgage payment.
Although I don’t want to revert back into extreme-couponing mom, a few lessons from those old coupon days are still with me. I decided to challenge myself to do Thanksgiving on just a $50 budget to feed 5 of us. This might not seem like a huge challenge, however small habits that we repeatedly do end in excellence! So by limiting our holiday food budgets, it’s a good place to start.
- Ham – $30.69 (made 3 meals)
- Mashed potatoes – $5.99 (10 lbs, made 3 meals)
- Mashed sweet potatoes – $5.49
- Steamed Brussel sprouts – $2.59
- 4 Ingredient Simple Stuffing – Had everything in the cupboard
- Apple Pie with Whipped Cream – $6.86Total = $51.62
Our meal actually ended up feeding us for 3 days. The first day we followed the menu, the second day, we ate leftovers, the third days we had ham, potato and bean soup with garden veggies. I think we had a great celebration plus the added value of a few extra dinners out of it! Always find a way to use leftovers – even if you just put them in the freezer for further down the road.
Stretch Your Savings
In order to make it work, we needed to maximize our dollars to do the most for us as they can, to do so we tried the following:
Find the Most Budget Friendly Grocery Store
My mom is the ultimate frugalista. She used to feed 6 people on $100-120 a week. I’m still not sure how she managed this (Careful planning?). Her hands-down favourite place to shop was No Frills. We did a bit of price comparison and we found that No Frills actually offered the best value where we live in Alberta as well.
Buy Only What You Need
A few items on our list (eg. stuffing) required – celery, butter, onion, poultry seasoning – however, we didn’t need to purchase these items as we already had them at home. When you’re working on your weekly grocery list, look at what is still in the fridge from last week. If it’s not necessary to shop yet – don’t! Even a few days of stretching out what you already have can make a big difference on your bill. When doing special holiday recipes, write down EVERYTHING you need and see what you have in your cupboards.
Garden Bounty, Baby!
Fall is one of my favourite times of year because the garden bounty is still available. Look at what is ripe & ready in your garden and use those beets or potatoes for good before you start buying them. See if there is anyone posting on your local buy, sell, trade sites that they need help weeding or have too much. I scored a trunkful of produce last weekend just from showing up to help with some bins.
Cash In Those Loyalty Points
If you’ve saved up grocery points, airline miles or have gift cards burning a hole in your pocket, this is the time to use them. My grandpa used to provide the turkey at each occasion. He never bought it, he just cashed in his loyalty points and bought one. He saved them up specifically for those special occasions.
Download the Save.ca App
I used the app to view flyers from my area. This allowed me to find the best deal on what I was looking for, and price match with a competitor. There is also mobile-only coupons to get the best offers from your favourite local retailers on the app. Unfortunately, none of them applied to what I was buying, although I was tempted by a great one on yogurt.
Price matching, many stores will not be undersold. So instead of driving around town wasting precious time and money, just simply go to one store that does price matching and match it up! For even more savings, match this with a coupon or cash back offers through the app.
Earn cash back. Check out the offers right on the App. You can add them to your shopping list, or create lists from flyers of things that you want to price match or save on, it allows you to make custom lists.
How do you shop on a budget? Tell us your saving strategies in the comments below!