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This is part 2 of my How to Easily Feed a Family of 3 for Under $5 series. If you haven’t read part 1 yet, head here!
Welcome to part 2 of my How to Easily Feed a Family of 3 for Under $5 series! In part one I gave you an idea of how to set a realistic budget for your family. I gave you some tips about ordering groceries online, gave you access to my free printables and more! In part 2 of this series, I will be showing you my simple formula for saving money on groceries every week. I will also show you how to use your free printables to get organized and making grocery shopping a breeze!
Note that these ideas are based around a family of 3 because that is my family size, but these tips can be applied to ANY family size no matter how big or small!
My Simple Formula for Saving Money on Groceries Every Week
Take a notepad or the Mama Saves Inventory Sheet and jot down everything in your fridge, freezer, and pantry that needs to be used up or can be used to create a meal to feed a family of 3 or more. For example: if you have some hamburger that needs to be used up soon, you can use that with many different recipes like tater tot casserole, cabbage soup and more. You do not need to have every single ingredient on hand in order to make meals, because you will be able to add in cheap items from the store in order to complete the meal in the later steps of this formula.
Brainstorm Meal Ideas
Take a piece of paper or the Mama Saves Meal Ideas Sheet as well as the paper you wrote down your inventory on. Look at your inventory and write down anything that comes to mind when viewing the ingredients you have on hand for meals that you could make. If your creative juices aren’t flowing, just head to Allrecipes.com, enter your ingredients and they come up with meal ideas for you! Then choose 7 meals from your idea list that you would like to make for the week (you could also just choose 6 and choose a day to eat out if it’s within your budget). You can make a separate list of these, simply circle the meals you plan to make or jot these down on the Mama Saves Weekly Meal Plan Sheet.
HOT TIP: If you are having trouble coming up will meal ideas to feed a family of 3 or more, you can get online at the Walmart Grocery site or app, or any other store that you shop at that has online shopping available and go to the meat section. Then just sort the page by price low to high in order to see what meat is cheapest that week. Then you can come up with meals based on those inexpensive meats.
Make Your Shopping List
Now that you have your meal plan for the week, you can easily make your shopping list! Just look at your meal plan and your inventory and jot down the ingredients that you still need to pick up from the store in order to make those meals. You will also want to add items in for breakfast, snacks or lunches. We tend to eat leftovers for lunch and I always have staple items on hand for breakfast like oatmeal, waffle mix, etc. For snacks, we tend to stick to tortilla chips, popcorn, and fresh fruit.
You can use the Mama Saves Grocery List Sheet to list your items by category/store aisle to make your shopping even faster. Be sure to also list any staple items you make need to replenish such as flour, butter, eggs, etc. It’s a good idea to keep a running list of staples that you use often in your home so that you don’t forget to grab those when needed. You can make this list with the Mama Saves Family Staples Sheet. You can hang this list on your freezer or pantry so that you can check it over each week when making your shopping list and add in items that are needed.
HOT TIP: It’s a great idea to keep a blank sheet of paper on your fridge to keep a list of items you run out of so that you remember to add them to your shopping list each week. Also, if you have an Amazon Echo or Google Home device you can create a virtual list by saying “Hey Google or Or Alexa make me a list named ‘items to buy'” or whatever you would like it to be called. Then when you need to add an item just say “add (item) to my items to buy list”. Then when you’re creating your shopping list you can go into your app and see what items you need to buy or just ask Alexa or Google to tell you what’s on your list!
Shop For Your Groceries
Now all you need to do is shop! We shop online with our local grocery store and opt for grocery pickup. Walmart offers this service as well for free. You can also get groceries delivered for a small fee via Instacart! If you decide to shop online, you just need to take the shopping list you created and plug the items into the site or app that you’re using, easy peasy! Or just take your list to the store of your choice and shop as usual. If you want to check out Instacart, be sure to use the code JCLARK59810B for $10 off your first order!
HOT TIP: Even if you are not planning on shopping online and getting your groceries delivered or pick them up, you can still input your items on the site or app to see what your total cost will be. This is a good way to make sure you are staying on budget. You can sort item prices from low to high and add or remove items as needed in order to stay in budget. Then just update your list and take it to the store. You can also compare your local store prices to Walmart or Target to see if any other items would be cheaper and split your list! You can pickup anything at Walmart and you can do drive-up at Target for non perishable pantry items.
Stock Up and Save
If you have room in your budget after all of the ingredients for your meals and snacks, you can add in some stock-up items. If you purchase just a few stock-up items each week, you will end up with quite the stash that you can eat through here and there to save even more money. You can also include these items in your inventory list each week too, it’s up to you! You may be asking, “how do I know what to stock up on and when?” Well, that is where the Mama Saves Stock Up Lists come in handy. I have created a Freezer Stock Up List as well as a Pantry Stock Up List.
All you need to do in order to fill out your stock up lists is save grocery receipts! Look through your receipts and circle all the items that you can freeze or keep in the pantry. Since freezer and pantry items last a long time before going bad, these are the items that you’ll want to stock up on. For our family stock up list, I tend to stick to items that we use often such as frozen and canned veggies, broth, pasta, etc.
How To Know When to Stock Up
I look at my receipt and circle those items and note the lowest price I have paid for them recently on my stock-up list in pencil or erasable pen. Then when I see the price drop again I change it. After a while, you will notice that the lowest price does not go any lower and that’s how you know that’s the best stock up price. Now you have a list of all your stock up items plus prices. So you can check the grocery ads or the prices online each week to see if they drop to stock up price and that’s when you buy!
You can also jot down the date next to the item to get a good idea of when it will go on sale again. Most items tend to go on sale about every 6 weeks so it’s a great idea to buy 6 weeks worth if you can, but only purchase the amount that fits within your set budget.
HOT TIP: When you are creating your grocery list, if you start to get close to your budget, you can add in your stock up items as needed in order to stay within your budget. That is what they are there for!
Keep Track of Family Favorites
A great way to make meal planning to feed a family of 3 much easier is to keep a running list of inexpensive meals that your family loves. You can write these down on the Mama Saves Family Favorites Sheet. This will be a great sheet to refer back to each week when trying to decide what meals to make. You can also print out multiple sheets and label them by meat such as beef, chicken, fish, etc. so that when you are brainstorming meals and looking for what meat is on sale it will make planning meals around those inexpensive meats much easier!
All the sheets in the Mama Saves Budget Groceries Printable Pack are numbered 1- 8 so all you need to do is fill out each sheet in order, go shopping and save money! You can also keep these pages in a cute folder for simple organization!