Inside: Are you working so hard to save money on groceries but your husband supportive? You can still save money on groceries with these tips!
I finished unloading the groceries from the car and sat down to pay myself on the back. I was pretty darn proud of myself. I stuck to my grocery list, saved a ton of money on groceries, and was pretty confident that everything I bought would be more than enough for the week.
That is, until my husband looked through the grocery bags.
“Is that all the groceries?” he asked. “Do you still need to go to BJ’s?”
“Ummm, no. That’s it.”
He started doing the “cupboard crawl”, digging for some missing food that looked good to him. He came up empty-handed.
I sighed. It was going to be a long week.
When Saving Money on Groceries Isn’t Working
That story is what my grocery shopping experiences used to be like. I tried hard to save money on groceries, to buy as little as I could get away with, especially after I stopped using coupons.
The only problem was, my husband wasn’t on board.
Me? I’ll eat anything you put in front of me.
I can skip the meat, eat cheap filler foods, and snack on the kid’s leftovers from lunch. If it was just me, I would save a fortune on groceries!
My husband? Not so much.
He really doesn’t like eating the same thing over and over again. He likes variety and has a hard time eating the same thing more than two times in a row. He also loves eating what he’s “in the mood for”.
When I skimped, though, he would either make more trips to the store mid-week or eat out more. The extra trips pretty much eliminated whatever grocery savings I managed to accomplish, or WORSE, he spent more than I saved.
What’s a woman to do?
With a lot of trial and error, I’ve figured out how to save money on groceries and keep my husband satisfied with what I bring home from the store.
10 Tips to Save Money on Groceries When Your Husband Isn’t on Board
1) Make your husband aware of how much food actually costs.
I’ve been doing the grocery shopping by myself for so many years that my husband was completely out of touch with how much groceries actually cost.
I randomly let him do one grocery shopping trip completely on his own.
He was SHOCKED. “Can you believe how much food costs these days?!” was his incredulous cry when he got home.
The cost of that one trip hurt our budget, but it was absolutely worth it.
After that trip, my husband was much more sympathetic to the limitations of our grocery budget. He asks for fewer extras now, and understands why I work so hard to save money on groceries.
2) Accept the situation.
For a long time, I was so DETERMINED to keep our grocery budget to a tiny [unrealistic] number that I refused to adapt. I was stubborn.
I wanted to save on groceries, and I wanted to do it my way. I refused to acknowledge the fact that my husband just didn’t have the same personality or tastes that I did.
When I finally accepted that there were two of us in this scenario and his opinions mattered too, things started getting better.
After accepting that savings needed to look different than the crazy low grocery budgets I saw on Pinterest, I was able to think creatively about how to save money and keep food in the house that satisfied both of us.
3) Focus your savings on staple foods and ingredients.
Basic pantry and freezer ingredients like baking ingredients, canned beans, and frozen vegetables are easy to swap generic brands for name brands. You really can’t notice the difference.
You can easily stockpile these items when they are on sale at their rock-bottom prices (especially if you have a deep freezer). Spices can be purchased on Amazon in bulk for much lower prices than your local grocery store.
For other things like snack foods and convenience items, I’ll admit that the generic/store brand doesn’t always taste the same. But sometimes, the taste difference is negligible or non-existent.
The bottom line is that it never hurts to the generic brand once.
Ask your husband to try the store brand with an open mind. If it’s markedly different, stock up on the name brand item when its on sale.
4) Meal plan based on both your preferences.
I used to meal plan based on what was the cheapest and easiest things to make. That led to a lot of leftovers that I ended up eating, which then led to him eating lunch out several days a week.
Now, I make a point to ask what he’s in the mood for that week and incorporate his suggestions into my weekly meal plan.
When I structure our weekly meal plans with everyone’s tastes in mind (not just the amount of money I can save), everyone leaves the dinner table feeling satisfied.
5. Make time to make things from scratch.
I don’t love making things from scratch. Because I can easily get by on odds and ends, I don’t prioritize making things like homemade French fries or baked goods.
But I do want to save money on groceries, so I try to make time for it. When I do, I find that it drastically reduces the desire to eat out or make extra trips to the store.
6) Buy a deep freezer, and stock up on convenience foods when they are on sale.
What usually kills our grocery budget are the convenience foods, and that’s what my husband likes to have on hand the most (because let’s face it – as a homeschooling, work at home mom, getting dinner on the table every night at the same time just doesn’t happen). A deep freezer, which we plan on investing in as soon as we get our tax refund, allows you to buy foods at rock bottom prices.
You have the foods he likes to eat on hand, but at prices that don’t hurt quite as much.
7) Reduce meat in recipes by one third.
Cutting meat by half is generally noticeable to someone who loves meat. Don’t give up on cutting meat altogether; just reduce it by less than you normally would.
One third is enough to see some savings, but not enough to be noticed.
8) Get a membership to a club store.
We currently have a membership to BJ’s that saves us a lot of money (the money we get back pays for the membership), particularly on dairy, meat, and freezer foods. You can pick up high value coupons at the front of the store every single week, too, which makes it easy to save (these are the only coupons I use these days).
If you haven’t already done so, check the prices on the items you buy most frequently at several stores in your area. Shop at the store where the majority of the things you buy are consistently priced the lowest.
9) Keep a list of snacks/easy foods your husband enjoys, and rotate through them.
Keeping one or two easy foods on hand every week saves both my sanity and my budget. The common theme throughout this post is that deprivation only makes things worse.
When I add one or two items a week to my cart that I know he enjoys (but on my own, I wouldn’t think to buy), it saves money in the long run. He doesn’t feel deprived, so he doesn’t go to the store mid-week or eat out nearly as often.
10) Treat yourself sometimes, too.
When you’re so focused on saving money on groceries and accommodating everyone else, it’s easy to forget to get things that YOU enjoy. Remember to put something in the cart every so often that is just for you.
You’re working hard to save money. You deserve something special every once in a while.
*My friend Carly at Mommy on Purpose also has a great post on how to save money on groceries with more helpful tips!
Beyond Saving Money on Groceries
Some of you might read this post and think, “Why don’t you just tell your husband to get over it?!”
I could, but I don’t think that’s a good recipe for marital happiness.
Living on one income is tough, but coming to an agreement about how you spend that income is key. We choose to live frugally in a lot of other areas to allow for a bigger grocery budget.
Grocery budgets vary so widely based on where you live, personal taste, number of family members, and a host of other things. This chart gives a basic idea of what your grocery budget should be, but as you can see from the comments, even these numbers just give you a ballpark figure, not a set in stone amount.
Whatever you do, just remember that agreeing on a grocery budget with your husband is key.
Get Help Making and Sticking to a Budget
Need help with budgeting? I found Jessi Fearon’s Real Life Money Plan to be SO helpful.
I’ve followed her blog for years now. Her and her husband LIVE this stuff.
They paid off $55,000 of debt in just seventeen months on a small income by taking control of their money and mastering all things budgeting.
If there’s anyone you want to learn from, it’s her.