How to Save Money on Groceries, Household Supplies, and Toiletry Products

How to save money on groceries

“How do you feel about another boy?” my husband asked. With our four children tucked in their beds and sound asleep, my husband and I settled in the living room to talk about the ultrasound tech’s “It’s another boy!” announcement. “I’m a little disappointed for Ellie’s sake,” I confessed. “She already has 3 brothers and had her heart set on a sister.”

From there our conversation moved into the practical realm and landed on one fact – beds and clothing chests for 4 boys cannot fit into either of the kids’ bedrooms. They MIGHT fit in our bedroom, and that’s a big might. Our master bedroom furniture MIGHT fit in the boys’ current room, again a big might. What we really need is a house bigger than 1200 sq ft!

A few days later I hopped online to get a sense of what our house might sell for in the current market. It ain’t pretty folks! The short story is we’ll walk away from 75% of the equity we have in this house. The bottom line is we need to save $60,000 in 3 years.

Reduce spending and increase income.

I only know of two ways to save more money – reduce our spending and increase our income. Homeschooling and being 7 months pregnant mean I can’t add to our income right now, but I can reduce our spending.

As the primary shopper in our home, I have complete control over our most expensive regular expenditure – grocery and household shopping. With the “Save. Save. Save.” mantra in my mind I entered February intent on reducing what I spend on groceries, household expenses, and toiletries (these all come out of one budget line item).

Spend less on groceries and household products.

My plan to lower our grocery/household expenses is very simple:

  1. Create a weekly menu plan.
  2. Plan ahead for special meals and treats for holidays, birthdays, and potluck dinners.
  3. Use up what’s in the pantry and freezer.
  4. Simplify meals.
  5. Set a monthly budget of $500 and track spending.
  6. Shop once a week for groceries and once a month for household and toiletries.
  7. Substitute or do without if we run out before shopping day. (Exception: toilet paper!)
  8. Use cash.

February grocery/household savings.


So, how did I do this month? I squeaked by on $500. A number of things made this month tough: running out of several toiletry items at once (razor blades, deodorant), Ben’s birthday, Valentine’s Day, and 2 extra-curricular potluck events. I anticipate a little more leftover at the end of March.

I’m pleased with how February’s spending turned out. I had to swap ham from our freezer for buying a beef roast, go without paper plates, and limit my kids’ snack portions. Overall, we did really well. We’ll do better in March as we adjust to more disciplined spending choices.


Frugal Living for Families

How do you save money on groceries and household products?


Linked to: works for me wednesday at we are that family




  1. Sarah
    Twitter: theEarlyBirdMom

    That is tight(the budget and the house!) God bless you as you prepare for your new babe and save for your new house.

    • Stephanie Kay
      Twitter: stephmommybrain

      It is tight. We can do the $500 budget we just have to make choices that support our budget. I keep reminding myself that not everyone has the luxury of choosing between eating what they WANT and SAVING. Some people are just choosing whether to eat or not.

  2. Great tips! Very similar to what we do. It would be interesting to know is the $500/month a change from last year? What was your previous budget for these items?

    • Stephanie Kay
      Twitter: stephmommybrain

      Previously I operated on a loose budget of $550-$600. I didn’t do a good job of keeping track. This year I’m using only cash. I’m getting strict about how much of certain items I’ll buy throughout the month. And am determined to only spend $500 a month. I went right up to the line this month – well, it depends on how we designate the Father-Daughter Cake Decorating Contest supplies. If we include those then I went over about $10. But that is a definite improvement!

  3. This is really great. I’m going to try this as well, starting with meal planning.

    • Stephanie Kay
      Twitter: stephmommybrain

      Meal planning really helps me in more than just being frugal. It saves me time and energy as well. Not to mention the stress of deciding what to eat at 5 PM with hungry children around your ankles!

  4. We do a lot of the same. I too buy most of the household items. Meal planning is a must for keeping costs down. Yes, cash for everything!
    candice recently posted..Thankful ThursdayMy Profile

  5. I am going to try this too! I always feel we spend too much money in the grocery store!
    mel recently posted..Hats Off To Dr. Seuss Collector’s EditionMy Profile

  6. I have been using cash for a couple of years now and it makes a huge difference.
    Heather @ Kraus House Mom recently posted..Thankful ThursdayMy Profile

  7. You are inspiring me to get myself in gear to save more! I have returned to couponing again, and I am determined to find other ways to cut costs! :-)
    Jessica Morrison recently posted..Create a Nautical Bench in 15 Minutes!My Profile

    • Stephanie Kay
      Twitter: stephmommybrain

      Glad I can inspire you! I seldom use coupons and find them more trouble and work than they are worth. I know some people have great success with them. I don’t usually buy groceries that have coupons or the coupon name brand is still more than the off brand. I wish you success though! :)

  8. Great tips for saving!! I’ve been too much in the spending mode lately. I need to cut back!!
    Kristin Wheeler (Mama Luvs Books) recently posted..Land O’Lakes Makes Eating with Simple Ingredients Delicious #3SI #sponMy Profile

  9. I always try to use cash when buying groceries. Really helps! So does menu planning.
    Jane – recently posted..Trying Jergens Natural Glow (And Reliving Past Self-Tanner Mishaps!) #JergensNaturalGlowMy Profile

  10. It sounds like you have a great action plan. I find what works for me best is tracking. Keeping focused on the weekly spending helps keep the family on track. Good luck!
    Just One Donna recently posted..Shrimp Fried RiceMy Profile

  11. Veronica says:

    You could also stop using paper plates and use real, reusable ones. Homemade deodorant is suuuuper easy to make, it’s cheap, and is not time consuming. (

    • Stephanie Kay
      Twitter: stephmommybrain

      You are correct. There are a lot of ways I can save more money. I’m exploring some of them. With each cost cutting method I examine more than just the savings – there’s also time, energy, and results. I have friends who make their own deodorant and laundry detergent. Honestly, I’m not willing to do that yet. Paper plates are because I have a family of 6 and do not own a dishwasher. For $6 a month I can save time and energy (which being 7 months pregnant is a valuable commodity). 😀

  12. Excellent ideas, Stephanie! Making do with what is available when we run out is always a hard one. This is why I’m working on stocking my pantry for those lean (or OOPS) weeks! Thanks for linking this up, dear!

  13. It’s sort of like a fun challenge except when it isn’t. We’ve set a strict budget and have been following it of late. I HATE cinching up the belt. It’s so…not fun. I confess I do NOT always have a good attitude about it (clearly) but I DO like seeing how much we’ve saved. :) SO ….there’s that.

    • Stephanie Kay
      Twitter: stephmommybrain

      It does help to kinda make a game out of it. Sometimes I like a challenge to see if I can accomplish a goal. Other times I just remember that my goal is a house with a master bathroom – so I don’t share with FOUR boys.

  14. Yrs ago..when I became single mom of 3 teen and preteen boys…I did this…we would look at weekly sale of meat….whatever that was, the boys then had to submit one well balanced meal, example ..BBQ chicken, baked bean, corn bread. Use 5 planned chicken meals the first week, maybe next week ..ham on meal plan again but mix chicken meal 1nite with ham meals. This takes a while to get complete meat rotation but it taught the boys balanced meals,budget,and we would hang meal plan on fridge. Get home from work and there was a meal already planned…no more thinking for the day! I’ve learned to shop clearance racks and specials..I’m in my 60’s now …boys 40ish…they still can plan, buy specials, and all 3 can out cook me any day!!!

    • Stephanie Kay
      Twitter: stephmommybrain

      Gayle, I like to say I’m working myself out of a job. My goal is to train my kids in menu planning, grocery shopping, and meal preparation so that by the time they are 16 they are equipped to do it all without any help from me. I truly believe children like being included in making the family run smoothly. They gain confidence and a greater appreciation for family. Thanks for sharing your story and encouragement!