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How We Cut Down Our Grocery Bill Without Cutting Down on Food

MoneyAmanda Walter | Maple Alps11 Comments

The grocery budget. The bane of my existence. I know I can’t be the only one who struggles with the whole grocery budget thing, so I decided to share today about how we cut down our budget without changing our diet.


A few years ago, our grocery bill was pretty much through the roof. For only two people, we were sure spending quite a bit on groceries. Naturally, the bill would be even higher in months like December (Christmas parties galore!) and July (Camping trips, anyone?). We knew we had to make a change and fast.


After we paid off the first third of our student loans back, we decided it was time to really be tight with our grocery budget and we have thus far been successful. In fact, our way of looking at our budget has simplified altogether as a result of this and managing and saving money has never been easier. I decided to focus on the grocery part of things today. Stay tuned for a budgeting post!

How We Cut Down Our Grocery Bill Without Cutting Down on Food | www.maplealps.com




What Is Included in my Grocery Budget?

For us, “grocery” includes anything that we eat and any other expendables such as toiletries (shampoo, soap, etc.). Basically anything you can get at your local grocery store that is a necessary consumable for survival. So if you have kiddos and choose to buy diapers, that would fall under that category, and for a cat, food and litter would also fall under this category.




How Much is in my Grocery Budget?

For our budget, our rule of thumb is $100/month per person who lives in our house. You will probably want to consider pets as well as they have food and waste needs as well. We count our fur baby as half a person at $50/month and we never actually end up spending that much on her. This keeps things SUPER simple, because you’re only thinking about one number to stay under per week!




Being Strict About Shopping

In order to keep this realistic, it is EXTREMELY important that you only go to the grocery store once a week, or once every two weeks. Have you ever noticed that every time you go to the store you end up dropping anywhere between $30 and $50 a time? Yes. That is why you need to be strict with yourself and only go once a week.


I get it, you might run out of milk or something. So write it down, and go to the store and ONLY BUY MILK! Keep those blinders on!


Writing lists also helps you use coupons effectively if you do that to save money.




Related: How Not to go Broke From Buying Groceries




Make A Meal Plan and Shopping List

This is key if you want to stick to the once a week shopping trip. That one time a week trip needs to be guided by a strict shopping list. I get it, you forget to write things down sometimes, but try to visualize everything you will need for the week as you plan and write the grocery list down. Then, when you go to the store, stick to it! We also keep a running shopping list on our fridge. So when we run out of things like ketchup or salad dressing, we can add it to the list quickly and easily.



Meal Planning Guide | www.maplealps.com




Related: Confessions of a Meal Planner




Shopping Our Kitchen

Every few months, we make it a point to shop our kitchen for our meal plans. This essentially means that we try to use up everything in our pantry and freezer before buying more. I know that a lot of people like to keep a fully stocked pantry, however, sometimes this leaves you prone to buying too many duplicates or forgetting what you have. We make sure that our pantry is laid out in a way that we can see everything we have when we open the door. We use clear glass containers so we can see the amounts of everything we have as well. We use up our things before adding them to the list.


By doing this, we have also been able to take better note of what items we use more than others and know what we need to write down on the list. Some items are only bought once for an experiment or special event and never needed again.




Related: Confessions of a Meal Planner Part 2




Eat A Lot of Fresh Produce

Getting in your share of veggies actually helps you keep your budget down! Targeting fruits and vegetables that are in season is really great for your budget, and your body as well! Processed food - especially the plant based kind - can be pricey!



Related: 10 Apps and Extensions We Use to Save Money



Making/Growing Our Own Staples

I’ve learned how to make a few of our staples which has cut down on our grocery bill. Bread is the one that has saved us the most so far, since my husband likes heavier bread being from Europe and all. Things like ketchup and almond milk cost about the same to make as to buy (I’ve done the math and it’s true for our area unless the ingredients are on sale).


I know a lot of people who save a lot on their grocery budget by growing their own food! We haven’t done this yet for ourselves since I have a black thumb...



Shop Sales Strategically

Buy more of your staples when they are on sale, and avoid the sales of things you don’t generally eat - unless you have it on your meal plan or know for sure you will eat it. I’ve seen the tendency of people to buy things simply because they are on sale, only to have them go to waste later!

Having Fun and Being Positive

We allow ourselves to have a few splurges a month (like a pint of our favourite vegan ice cream that costs way too much!), but the best thing to keep in mind is not that you are restricting your budget, but that you are creating a way of life that keeps you mindful of everything you spend and everything you eat! It’s a good thing-trust me.





Controlling your grocery spending can be hard to do, but I believe in you! Reduce your spending and increase your savings! It will be worth it.


 
Meal Planning Guide | www.maplealps.com
 
How We Cut Down Our Grocery Bill Without Cutting Down on Food | www.maplealps.com #groceries #savemoney #budget

4 Easy Ways to Clean Up Your Diet Today

HealthAmanda Walter | Maple Alps12 Comments

This year, I've made some changes to my diet in an attempt to better myself as well as an elimination experiment to confirm some things for me (I'm working on a whole, detailed post about what's been going on, so be sure to look out for it). I've always grown up hearing about healthy ways to do things as it was always very emphasized at home, at school and even at church and it never occurred to me that some people may not know about some of the basic things our bodies need for optimal health (I wrote about these things here). Today, I will just share some easy food switches you can make to help reach your health goals.

4 Easy Ways to Clean Up Your Diet Today | www.maplealps.com

 

Related: Spring into Health this Spring

 

Skip the sugary drinks and drink more water. Sugary drinks are delicious, don't get me wrong, but it's too easy to overlook the effects of sugar on your body. Skip the addictive substance, and drink water - our bodies need it anyway! I also really enjoy unsweetened herbal teas. The bottom line is that since our bodies are made up of over 70% water, it is absolutely necessary we drink it. It supports our systems and flushes it out. 

 

Add vegetables to your meals. Your mama was right - veggies help you grow strong! Eat your vegetables! Add a side of broccoli or opt for a side salad (or make it your main course!). You can start small, but add more vegetables to your diet. The best kind are the ones that are fresh and in season. Fresh, nourishing food is essential! I love meals that are full of vegetables!

 

Choose fruit over cookies. Again, the side effects that come with sugary treats will harm you more than do you good. Choosing fruit when you have a sweet craving is a better choice that fatty desserts. Again, with the summer close, in-season fruit is becoming more readily available!

 
It’s not hard to clean up your diet! Here are some easy tips you can start using today!
 

Pick steamed or raw over fried. I know, I know. Fried foods are so delicious - but they are really not good for you. Because of the added calories and health risks involved with commercially fried foods, it is best to avoid consuming them (or avoid when possible). If you must have fried, try oven frying or air frying at home for crispy food, but with less oil and the calories that come with it.

 

Make your own meals. I know it's fun to eat out, but save your wallet and your bodies by making your own food. When you cook or prepare your meals yourself, you have total control over what goes onto your plate. On top of that, it is also much cheaper to buy your own groceries

 

Related: Eating Cleaner on a Budget

4 Easy Ways to Clean Up Your Diet Today | www.maplealps.com

Listen to your body. For me, when I eat dairy or other heavily processed foods, I'm noticeably more lethargic. Then again, I likely would not have even noticed had I not decided to cut it out. When I am intentional about drinking enough water and eating fresh foods and avoiding "empty calories" (calories that add no nutritional value), I feel my best - energetic and ready to go. Listen to your body - it speaks louder than you might imagine!

 

What are some ways you make healthy switches?


 
4 Easy Ways to Clean Up Your Diet Today | www.maplealps.com
 

Vegan Corn Chowder

RecipesAmanda Walter | Maple Alps3 Comments

The best thing about Autumn (besides fireplaces, candles, fuzzy blankets and cuddling, that is) is soup. I love soup. All sorts of soup. I could eat soup year-round to be completely honest. I have been holding on to this recipe, just waiting for the perfect moment to share it with you all, and I decided that instead of waiting until it was cold out, I would share it now so that you can brace yourselves for it!

Autumn is indeed coming.

Vegan Corn Chowder | www.maplealps.com

So my mom and brother came to visit and just left after two weeks. I hadn't seen the two of them in two years, so I was so excited and was literally bouncing off things I couldn't wait! Two weeks went by way too quickly, and even though we did a ton of fun stuff, I felt bad because they came just as I was prepping my life and classroom for the school year to start. It was a total bummer, but we are hoping to visit them for a few days at Christmas. They allegedly had a good time despite helping me haul desks and label books, so that is good I suppose. 

Anyway, back to the soup: Growing up, corn chowder was seriously my favourite. I actually loved (and still love) soup in general, but I could down bowls of this if I was in the mood. Even today, I love enjoying a hot bowl of this on a chilly day. Since we just concluded a lovely visit with my family, I thought it would be appropriate to [finally] share this recipe. It's a bit different than the original but still tastes delicious.

By the way, this soup has cashews in it. If I get enough nut-free requests, I'll share that version too ;-)

Vegan Corn Chowder | www.maplealps.com

Vegan Corn Chowder
Makes About 12 Cups of Soup

3 small potatoes
1 medium onion
1 red pepper
1 TBSP homemade vegan chicken-style seasoning
2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp basil
1 tsp garlic powder
1 stalk celery
3/4 cup cashews
2 cups water
1 cup cooked brown rice
1/4 cup fresh parsley (or 1 TBSP dried)
4 cups corn
2 cups water
4 cups vegetable broth

1) Dice onion, pepper and potatoes and put in a large pot with 4 cups of vegetable broth.
2) Bring to a boil, and then a simmer. Add salt and garlic powder
3) Blend the cashews, celery, water and rice until smooth. Add the parsley and blend for a few more seconds
4) Add cashew mixture to the pot
5) Put 2 cups of corn and 2 cups of water in blender. Blend and then add to the soup.
6) Add the remaining 2 cups of corn to the pot
7) Add salt to taste
 

 

What's your favourite soup when the weather starts getting chilly?


 

12 Necessities We Are Intentional About Spending Money On

MoneyAmanda Walter | Maple Alps24 Comments

The biggest discussion in our house at the moment is definitely the topic of my student loans. It’s a struggle I don’t even want to think about, but here I am, pouring out my heart and soul on the internet. Go figure.

You see, when I went to school, no one ever told me that student loans were not a good idea for me to get involved with. The only thing we were ever warned about in school were credit cards and bounced cheques, so I always made sure to stay on top of those. However, no one ever showed me math or gave me any reason to be wary of student loans. There are definitely some cases in which these types of loans are beneficial, but in my case, they were not. If I could do it over, I would do things differently, but all I can do now is buckle down and conquer these loans and become debt-free as soon as possible. We have come up with a long-term plan for getting rid of them which requires a bit of sacrifice now but will benefit us in the future. 

I do use the word sacrifice loosely. We are not starving or wearing clothes ridden with holes. We are, however, very mindful of what we spend money on, and cut costs when we can. Here are 12 things we are intentional about when it comes to spending money

cessities We Are Intentional About Spending Money On | www.maplealps.com

Eating 

Save money by meal planning and reduce the amount you eat out. I went a long time without ever eating out, and even though it cost me socially, my bank account was thankful. I’m okay with eating out once in a while now but avoid it when possible. Pack a lunch for work. Make your own bread and other staples. Find a cheaper grocery store. Use Ibotta or other rebate and coupon apps. There are many ways to save on groceries.

Utilities

Be mindful about the utilities you use. Do you really need every light in the house on when you’re only in one room? Should you really keep the tap going as you’re brushing your teeth? Are 20 minutes in the shower completely necessary? When is washing just one shirt in the washing machine a good idea? Can clothes be hung to dry? Think about these things and be creative when saving on utilities. We make it a game every month to see if we can get utility bills lower!

Clothing

I have so much to say about this topic but I’ll leave you just with ideas to save like I promised! While basic clothing is a definite necessity, I found myself with much more than I needed (or could wear!). Now that I've purged and have what I need and love wearing, I don't feel the urge to buy more. Try selling newer clothes in good condition that you no longer wear or look at. When you have an event or a theme party to go to, before shelling out extra cash for items you’ll likely only wear once, try being creative with what you already have. You could also borrow something from a friend! I’ve been known to wear things until they have holes...you do you. If you get totally bored with the clothes you have, why not try having a clothing swap with some friends? Chances are they have some great pieces to exchange.

Toiletries

Since learning about the harmful substances in toothpaste and many other toiletry items, I have taken to making a lot of our products. This has not only reduced the chemicals in our home, it has also proven to be much more affordable! Check out some of my natural living posts here. 

Fuel

Carpool, combine trips and get a fuel-saving car. This has drastically saved our fuel costs and the extra money goes right into loan repayments.

Phone Bill

Reevaluate your phone bill and find a cheaper one that works. Research pays off - especially when you're brutally honest with yourself about your phone usage. You would be surprised what kinds of deals are out there! 

Credit Cards

Do not to spend what you don’t have. Many credit cards have interest rates of 18% or higher, which is a lot! Pay your credit card off in full every month, or don’t use it at all. Because we get cash back on our credit card, we primarily use it. However, after over one year of use, we have never paid interest because we pay it in full every month. Free money? Yes, please! Do what works for you, but avoid credit card interest like the plague.

10 Every-Day Things You Can Start Saving On Today! | www.maplealps.com

Bank Statements

Check and balance your bank statements monthly to make sure that every purchase was made by you or whoever has access to your account.  Unfortunately, fraudulent purchases occur. This has happened to me; foreign purchases were made with my credit or debit card and I was able to get money back that I never spent in the first place. I would have never noticed, had I not been checking my account regularly.

ATM Charges

Don’t ever pay for these. Just, please don’t. Not necessary.

Home Decor

A fresh paint of coat or removable decals go a long way in making your home feel new. Instead of buying expensive furniture or decorations to add to your dusting pile, DIY some projects or put out some fresh flowers and candles. There are inexpensive ways to decorate your house to your liking and personally, I think less is more!

Hobbies

I know it's weird I consider hobbies as a necessity...but, everyone has their thing. It’s hard when one has expensive hobbies. I sure do. If your hobby requires supplies, try using everything in your stockpile before getting something new. The best is when your hobby can make you money. Sell handcrafted goods or stock photography. You could even create a course or blog to teach others. Your hobby can serve you!

Cable/Subscription Costs

Re-evaluate what is important to you; this is a huge part of living intentionally. We choose not to have a TV in our house, so naturally, we do not have cable or satellite to pay for.  Since we are also very particular with what we choose to spend our time watching, renting a movie on iTunes every once in a while is much cheaper for us than paying for a Netflix or Hulu subscription.

 

What are some of the ways you save money on necessities? We would LOVE to read about them! Leave a comment with your tips - we read every single one!