How I Cut My Grocery Bill in Half With Menu Planning

I’m sharing the story of how menu planning helped cut my grocery budget in half this week on LearnVest. It’s really quite simple, you just have to do it!

A few years ago I decided to add up my grocery receipts for one whole month.

What I found was shocking. I was spending $1,200 a month for our (then) family of six, and I was grocery shopping nearly every day of the week.

What was worse (yup, it gets worse)–even with all that shopping, we still ate out a few times a week.

You can read the rest of my story on LearnVest.


  1. We’ve been meal planning for only 3 weeks and we’ve already seen a savings ~ just in not running to the store every other day or eating out!! Loving it so far!!

  2. I try to keep my meals between a certain price each day ….I purchase ahead if there is a great sale on something like tun for 50 cents a can then pair it with pasta and make tuna noodle one night for dinner . we always have leftovers so it makes it very inexpensive to eat that meal i figure it is less than 50 cents each for the whole meal a person …I also purchase meat like pork, hamburger etc in bulk and freeze it for later use …If you can get pork for 99 cents a lb and use it for stir fry or bbq pork sandwiches etc it really cuts your grocery bill down ….I love my freezer but remember to label and date everything so you use it and do not waste it …you can freeze a lot of fresh veggies too and other things …you will do more than cut you grocery bill in half if you do this maybe even 3/4 and you can plan right out of the freezer or pantry when there is not really a great sale on something …
    If you eat out now and then like we do use coupons they really save money over the full price of something on a menu …I always have coupons in my car so if we are tempted we still save money and they are great when taking trips too …I try to take food to eat on trips too that saves a bunch of money ….when you can eat at places like burger king and get two sandwiches , two fries and drinks for 6 dollars or less it is great as that is the price of one whole combo meal ….planning ahead is the key here and menu planning def helps too 🙂 …

  3. I need to get back to doing this! I was good during the school year, but once summer hit, I got a little lazy…the other thing I do is build in at least one meatless dinner a week (pasta, beans, etc), which is a huge savings for a family of six. And every Fri night is Breakfast-for-Dinner night, which is both cheap and easy b/c I already know pretty much what we’re having (pancakes/waffles…something like that. A little more complicated than cereal but not too much prep!) The kids love it, too — they spread a blanket on the floor and get to watch a movie while they eat — a fun way to kick-off the weekend!

  4. I have been wanting to meal plan but, it seems so time consuming 🙂 Is there a program or website out there that you can input meals and can print a grocery list from that? I think that may help me actually stick to it!

  5. I too, have been doing meal planning for about 6 months now. We were also guilty of the “buying everything we saw, spending hundreds even thousands of dollars, and eating out meanwhile the food went bad” ordeal. We had started buying bulk and freezing for another day, until a real bad storm hit us, and left us powerless for DAYS and everything in the freezer went bad.. I learned my lesson at that moment. Having to toss out close to $1000 worth of food in the trash, the saying “throwing money away” never seemed so literal until then, I realized it was time to do the weekly meal plans & go grocery shopping weekly vs buying in bulk and risking the dreaded powerless money toss again. We have since cut our grocery bills down to $80 a week for 7 home cooked meals for 3, plus leftover for lunch the next day for 3 (okay so technically it’s $80 a week for 7 meals for 6 people..) another thing, never shop hungry! You’ll want to buy everything in sight and spend a lot more.

    Meal planning for the win! 🙂

  6. I have been making monthly menus for over 15 years- started when my boys were young and in grade school. My motivation for this was to help me break a stressful morning ritual of just before leaving for work trying to remember what we had to do after school (sports,meetings), what we had just eaten,what I had in the pantry and freezer and what I would have to buy to cook for tonight’s supper. The menus helped not only stop this crazy ritual but also helped with budget and time management. I would write on the calendar what activities we had so on those nights I knew dinner needed to be simple and quick or I needed to have something already made. I created my menu list by writing down meals that I usually cooked for the family – just used a binder and notebook paper. I decided to use this simple approach because I could take the binder with me so I could work on menu planning while waiting for the boys. Lots of free printable groceries online; I would print 3 each month- would post on the refrigerator so could mark what we needed as we used the last of it. I would take the list,check the menus and finish the list then go shopping. I went shopping every 2 weeks. The monthly menu plan does take time but it’s worth it. You will not only save money and time but also will have less stress.

  7. The $600 a month is just for food, right? That isn’t including things like shampoo, tp, pt, bathroom cleaner, ect. ect,?

    • TheHappyHousewife says:

      That was food plus some toiletries. I get most toiletries for free/ cheap at the drug stores.

  8. I just found this site and so far LOVE what I have come across! Our family consists of myself, my husband, and 4 boys ages 6,5,4 and 4.. and a new baby coming in February…. I work full time as well and am always looking for ideas to save time and money yet not lose the treasured family time. Thank you for everything you have posted so far!

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