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Ten years ago, we were struggling under the weight of debt and a limited irregular income. We worked really hard to pay off $18,000 of debt in 18 months. We took on extra work and started making a simple budget each month.
We knew if we could cut our monthly spending, we could gain some great traction on paying down our debt fast. One of the first places we started to trim in our budget was food. If you are looking to get out of debt and clean up your budget, food can be one of the biggest line items. Food can make or break your debt free journey.
At the time, we learned about coupons and used them weekly to cut our food bill as low as possible for our family. I do believe coupons are a great way to cut our food budget. I loved using coupons and do believe it really helped us pay off our debt FAST.
But I also think they are many ways to save hundreds each month on food without using coupons. In fact, we still do these tips weekly in our home. This is exactly what we do to keep our food bill under control.
Shop at Aldi or discount stores
Find a local discount grocery store in your area. We shop at Aldi weekly and have done so for years. Aldi is my biggest budget secret. They save me thousands of dollars in food each year.
If you have never been an Aldi shopper before, it takes some time to learn the ropes. Give yourself time to figure things out. The selection is small, but the prices are low and the quality is the same as your big box grocery stores.
If you don't have an Aldi near you, find a deal blogger in your area. Read their posts regularly or shoot them an email! Find out where they shop for food in your area. What stores do they love? Do they think one store in your area has the best prices for food? Deal bloggers are your BEST resource for saving hundreds of dollars on food!
Use a Meal Plan
I really hate meal planning. Out of all the things we do on a weekly basis to stay on budget, meal planning is my LEAST favorite thing to do.
However, I know for experience that meal planning is KEY to saving money at the store. Without a plan, I will buy all kinds of things we don't really need. When I have a plan, it keeps me from buying that bag of sugary cereal or Buckaroo Bark that calls my name. If it is not on my list, I don't buy it.
There are so many meal planning services out there right now. For a few dollars a month, you can have a meal plan sent to you each week. We love Emeals and have used their services for almost 10 years. They have meal plans specific to your diet and your local stores. They make their meal plans around local sales and seasonal items and their recipes delicious.
We have the Aldi family plan. Check out all their plans here.
Pay with cash
Research shows that we spend more when we use credit or debit cards. People who use credit (or debit) cards tend to buy more unhealthy food than those who pay with cash. The research is fascinating. The truth is, cash keeps us in check.
Using cash can help you track how much you are really spending on food. Food is one of those things in our budget that can get out of control really quickly. Using cash can help you reign in your spending habits. If you use Emeals, the app will tell you EXACTLY what your food will cost for the week. Take only the cash you need to purchase your groceries.
If you are really struggling to maintain your food budget, we suggest switching to a cash-only budget for food. Make a simple envelope system for your major monthly cash purchases. We love these beautiful cash envelopes from A time for Everything. They are handmade in many different fabric choices.
Make your own
One of the biggest ways to save money on food is to make your own from scratch! Ditch the box and make your own. Skip your weekly takeout meal and try to make it yourself! You will be surprised at all things you can make yourself for pennies. You can make your own yogurt, baking mixes, drinks, and so much more!
When we were paying off debt, we learned to make many things from scratch. Not only did this save us hundreds on food, but we discovered homemade tastes so much better! Ditch your expensive cereal and make homemade granola. Our chocolate granola is so good!
We learned to make delicious homemade pizza with artisan dough and Jessica's red sauce. It is to die for! We make our kids lunches every week and save ourselves $1,500 a year by doing so. Check out our FREE Aldi lunch meal plan below.
What are some easy ways you save money on food with coupons? We want to know!