We’ve done it. It’s been just about a year and I’ve managed to cut our food budget by about 30 percent, eat out less, and eat decent food more. Phew! I think a year of it counts as an actual pattern, right?
So, a little over a year ago, I got a Costco membership from my delightful sister, BIL and nieces as a birthday gift. The first time I went I did what I always do in grocery stores–I bought a bunch of random crap and continued to have nothing to eat. I quickly saw that I could find myself penniless (but well stocked in fruit gummies and toilet paper) if I kept down that road.
So I actually, seriously took a look at which food (and related–I included toilet paper and cleaning supplies in the list) items I buy over and over and over again. There were only about 30 of these. I then resolved to buy only these things at Costco, spread them out over the year and see what happened.
Now I go to Costco once a month for a big buy. At that time, about half of the things I buy are things we will go through in a month’s time (milk, Diet Coke, bread, cheese, fruit, veggies), and the other half are things that I rotate through (I buy a case of red beans one month, a case of black the next, a case of chicken stock the next, etc. etc.) This leaves me with a pantry stocked with most of my go-to items. I can cover a good 80% of our meals on this. The key is to not get sidetracked by the cool samples and fun new products. We can not afford fun new products in a gigantic size–not financially, and not in terms of freezer space.
I then go to one other grocery store about 2 weeks later–sometimes it’s Costco again, but usually it is a regular store- to get the smaller quantity items and whatever we might have run out of.
This keeps me out of the grocery stores, where I tend to make lots of impulse buys that either go bad or that languish on my shelves. I have about 10 main recipes for dinner. We go through those 10 menus in the first 2 weeks, and then most of the new recipes that I try will be in the second half of the month, after I’ve restocked from the smaller store, or if I’m not into it, I just recycle the same menus.
We’ve been eating out usually one night a week, and then have leftovers one night a week, so I’m cooking 5 nights a week–almost exclusively with the crock pot, because I’m fancy like that.