If you are a young stay-at-home mom like me, your budget is probably pretty tight. You know how important it is to make every penny stretch and save wherever you can – especially in the grocery budget.
The grocery category is definitely one of the more flexible “necessary” categories but it has been the hardest for me to keep under control. I have researched, experimented, and finally (after many failures) have found a sure way to give my family delicious, healthy meals and NEVER go over my grocery budget again!!
Tried and failed…and failed…and failed again
After getting married and soon after getting pregnant with our first, I soon realized the need to reducing our spending in the grocery department if I was going to be able to stay home with our little sweetie.
The first thing I tried was couponing. I ordered a newspaper, got a organized file system, cut until I was blue in the face, learned all the tricks of doubling up to save more…and still shot right through my budget and well beyond.
Next was only buying cheap (not so healthy) food – not the best option when you are pregnant. Not only did I still have trouble staying under budget but neither of us were comfortable with the idea of me eating nutrition-less, processed foods while growing and then nursing a baby.
I realized that my main pitfall was that even though I would shop sales and try to incorporate what was in my pantry; I
was choosing the cheapest healthy meals I could find and just hoping for the best. I never really had any clue if I would be even close to budget until I left the checkout line. And let’s just say I was usually disappointed.
So I got drastic. I decided I would no longer make this a nervous game of hoping the groceries in my cart would add up to the right total. Josh and I picked out several of the most inexpensive recipes we knew we liked, made complete grocery lists of EVERYTHING we would need to buy in a month, and walked through the store pricing every item.
We kept editing and re-editing until we got it down to the right number. Finally I KNEW that we would be under budget! But there was a catch…we would be eating the exact same meals EVERY month. BORING!!
There HAD to be a better way!
It was about that time that I ran across Build a Menu…and it has changed my grocery life!
At first it seemed to be too good to be true but it was so inexpensive that I figured it was worth a try…and it has been every bit as amazing as I hoped.
Build a Menu was founded by two moms who know exactly how difficult and time consuming it can be to plan a healthy, inexpensive meal plan for a family.
Depending on what plan you choose, it is $8 or $10 a month…and you way more then that back the first week!
In an effort to save money I have settled for some less then tasty recipes in the past…but these recipes have been delicious! We have discovered some new family favorites for sure!
Once you choose the recipes you want to use for that week/month (depending on how you plan), you can drag them onto a calendar then print off the grocery list, recipes and meal calendar…and you’re done!
The best part to me is that they update their suggested recipes each week based on what is on sale at the grocery store of your choosing! No need to spend time in the sale pages or try to find recipes from your home collection to take advantage of them!
And as you add recipes to your list they tell you exactly how much each product is and what your total is! NO MORE BLINDLY HOPING!!
My weekly routine
So just to give you a better idea of what this looks like, I will explain the routine I now go through every week.
First I log into my Build a Menu account and choose the store that I want to stop at. It then takes me to the recipes and I can choose from either the suggested recipes based on that weeks sales or from their entire recipe collection. They have categories for dinner, lunch, breakfast, snacks, sides etc.
Once I’ve made sure that I’m under budget (I usually try to stay at least 25% under so I can add a couple random necessary items to the list), I move on to the next step.
I don’t always use the calendar they provide because I have another one I like to use but their option is also very convenient.
Then the last step is to remove anything from their grocery list that I already have on hand, add any random items I need, and print the list and recipes off!
And that’s it! So easy – and I’ve successfully stayed UNDER budget EVERY TIME!!!
If you are interested in finding out more, click on this link. They have a very informative video on their website that will clarify any details that I’m missing.