Want to know the best way to prepare easy weekly meal plans? Have them prepared for you! You are about to be inspired by Angela’s amazing story of how they became debt-free, and how she shares her passion with the rest of the world now by saving everyone a bundle on groceries, and doing the hard work for us by creating easy healthy meal plans each week!
Hi there! It’s Angela here from the Grocery Shrink. I’m excited to be Emily’s guest at Décorchick. I’ve been following Emily for a long time to learn how a good decorator thinks and love her frugal mindset. Money gives choices to my family and the less I spend to run our home, the more choices we have in other areas.
We have 6 children ranging in age from 14-2. My husband works in tax. I teach school part time and work from home writing menu plans for busy moms.
7 years ago, my husband and I wrote down our debts in order from smallest to biggest and were shocked to discover we owed $89,0000!!!!!!! That did not include the house we were living in. We owed on credit cards, a family loan, a mini-van, a leather couch, and a vacant rental house. We felt normal, but our finances were spinning out of control.
About that time Dave Ramsey was having his one and only get out of debt contest. The top 10 families in the nation to pay off the most debt and save the most money in 6 months were going to the Bahamas. Can you see me jumping up and down yelling “Pick me! Pick me!” We listed everything we could for sale, cut our grocery budget from $400 down to $185; and got super creative with homemade gifts and clothing refashions. The kids thought eating out meant going on a picnic . We shut off our heat, started burning wood, and switched to cloth everything (napkins, paper towels, diapers, & toilet paper.) I wasn’t about to spend money for something I was going to use once and throw away.
There were two secrets for my motivation:
- An emotional reason to sacrifice big (to improve my children’s future and …. Hello, Bahamas!)
- A time limit on the sacrifice. When 6 months was over, if we hated living like this, we gave ourselves permission to go back to our olds ways. I looked at it like childbirth. I can do anything for a short amount of time—even if it feels super hard while going through it. (Turns out we didn’t hate it, and still do a lot of the same things and learned some new frugal habits along the way.)
When we met up with Dave in the Bahamas the next January, we were completely debt free!
Of all the frugal things we did, what I did with our grocery budget made the most difference. If you think about it, food spending is the largest part of the budget that is controllable. I may spend a lot on electricity, but turning off a light in a room only changes the bill a few dollars, while cutting my grocery spending saved us $215 a month right away.
My top 5 Frugal Grocery Tips
1. Use cash for food. That way you can see at a glance how much money you have left in your budget. When the money is gone you’re done until the next budgeting period.
2. Buy food at the lowest price possible. For me this means knowing what the regular price is at Aldi, then watching the ads and unconventional stores (like Dirty Dons) for even lower prices and stocking up (I try to buy enough to last until it goes on sale that low again–about 3 months.) While I personally find my best deals without coupons, some moms are amazing at shopping with coupons layered with sales.
3. Reduce your budget gradually if you can. The first month keep it the same but spend 20% of your budget on only good deals to stock up on. The next month reduce your overall budget by 20% and spend 20% of that on items to stock up on. By the time you are at your goal budget, you will have a nice pantry full off foods (3-6 months worth.)
4. Plan meals based around the basic low cost pantry items that you already have on hand. While I rarely cook the same meal twice in the same month, my recipes center around basic healthy ingredients that are traditionally low priced, such as whole grains; seasonal fruits and vegetables; and chicken. I rarely run to the store for an ingredient for dinner, since there is a huge variety in my pantry to pull a substitution from.
Less Trips to the Store=Less Money Spent Overall.
5. Learn how to make a new item from scratch every week. Here are some scratch items I learned to make a bit at a time: pitas; bagels; English muffins; tortillas; Challah bread; cinnamon rolls; stromboli; pizza; taco seasoning mix; pancake mix; cornbread mix; breakfast sausage; meatballs; noodles; salad dressing; cream soup; egg rolls….By making these things at home, I not only save money, but I can choose the ingredients that I’m comfortable feeding my family.
My menu service is full of nutritious recipes based on the naturally low cost foods I mentioned in tip #4. Each week I send out the recipes for Breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks for 7 days. Plus recommendations for those who need to be gluten free, dairy free, or are following a fitness plan. You’ll get a shopping list and an action plan at a glance (so you never forget to turn on your slow cooker again.) The bonus section in the back of each menu plan has recipes for homemade convenience foods to save even more money. Members also have access to a click and drag personal menu planner for complete control over their plan. For just $5 a month, you can see why so many moms are choosing Grocery Shrink Plus.
Thanks so much Angela! You are so inspiring!! I am a Dave Ramsey fan myself, and know for a fact Angela’s tips work. I need all the help I can get these days, so having her meal plans delivered each week sure sound great. Are you excited to try them out?