Grocery Budget Hack 1
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Grocery Budget Hack - No Spend Days. Saves our family $400 a month!

The Grocery Budget Hack that has saved us $400 a month! I know we want flashy answers to our money problems. I thought surely it couldn’t be this simple. But, I have used this for the past 3 months and was SHOCKED with how much this easy hack has helped us save.

We have followed a budget as a couple all 21 years of our marriage. And also, I know how easy it is to have the best of intentions at the beginning of the month. However, by the end of the month you have overspent the food budget (or whatever category)…again. It has happened to me more months than I’d care to admit. 

Regardless of what your food budget is, this is something you can apply THIS month. It can help you spend less. You will use up what you already have. And, it minimizes food waste. 

THE HACK: No Spend Days

The Goal of No Spend Days: Avoid the Store and Make do with What You’ve Got

The goal is to save money by using what you have and not buying new food the last week of the month (i.e. “No Spend Days”). See how far you can get on what you have! Can you avoid going to the store and make do with what you’ve got for the last week of the month?

I grocery shop every Saturday. So, generally 4x a month. With this hack, I am only grocery shopping 3x a month. Instead of grocery shopping for the last week of the month, I am trying to see if I can live off what we already have in our home instead!

NOTE: Awareness is the goal. Using up all the things your cupboards, fridge, and freezer are already full of is the goal. Perfection is not the goal.

You might realize you really need almond milk to use up those nuts when you make my Paleo Freezer Granola for breakfasts for the week. Or that you have lots of veggies to use up but literally no proteins to be found. We aren’t trying to be extreme here.

But, if you go to the store and ONLY buy almond milk and a tray of chicken breast instead of the normal cart full of groceries you would have gotten that week? That my friend, is a WIN. 

How it Works

First, Create a Freezer and Pantry Inventory

The 3rd week of the month, I create a freezer and pantry inventory. This doesn’t have to be fancy. I did mine as a checkmark list on a note in my phone (see below). This takes a few minutes but is helpful to know what you have to work with. 

Too often food goes to the back of the fridge or the bottom of the freezer and never gets eaten. The average American throws away 1/3 of their food in food waste. You’re going to use THAT as the basis of your meals for the last week of the month.

Second, Approach It with the Right Attitude

Now, I’ve learned a big part of being successful with budgeting is the right attitude. Approach it as a fun challenge and you will feel much more motivated. It can almost feel like a game. It’s your own personal Chopped Challenge – what can you make with the ingredients you have on hand? It’s really fun and rewarding once you get into it.

Also, the exciting part is saving money towards something you need or want. Keep that in mind and that these meals will just “get it done.” They may not be ones you would serve to guests or put on Instagram. But they can nourish your family and your financial goals. 

My kids also got into the spirit of things. My 10 year old helped me make the freezer inventory. He also got excited when we used something on the list and we got to check it off as used. It was like leveling up in a video game, lol.

Third, Start with What is Going Bad First

What fresh items do you have, like produce, that is going to go bad soon? And, if there is something that has some bad spots – can you cut around them and still use part of it? For example, potatoes that are starting to grow roots can have the roots cut out and still be used. 

3 Ways to Use up Produce that is Going Bad

Or, are there any leftovers that need to be eaten up? Prioritize eating those first, or make sure they get into the freezer before they spoil. My favorite ways to jazz up leftovers are to put an egg on it and eat it for breakfast, put a new delicious sauce on it, or recrispify it in my air fryer. More on loving your leftovers to come!

Feel the Shift Towards Intentional Spending

Doing this Grocery Budget Hack this year has shifted my budget and my mind set. I am more likely to ask if I really need something at the store, even mid month. I am more likely to be excited to use up leftovers, even in an unglamorous meal, because it gives me more savings. Also, I am FAR more aware of what I have on hand and likely to integrate it regularly into my meals, instead of buying a whole new batch of food every week.

I’m not just meeting our grocery budget goal for the first time in many months. I have been well under it by hundreds of dollars. I can’t tell you how much YOU would save – I don’t know your budget, family size, or how well stocked your pantry and freezer are. But, I dare say using up what you have an intentional spending are always a step in the right direction.

So, give it a try! Take inventory of what you have and commit with enthusiasm to using that up first. See how far that can get you and if you can have at least a handful of no spend days. One month I made it 10 days…which blew me away and felt so empowering to use up so fully what we had.

I’d love to hear if you try this! Drop a comment if you do and let me know how it goes for you. Have questions? Drop those below as well.



  1. Do you find that after doing this a while your freezer and pantry supply dwindles enough that you don’t have what you need for that last week? Or that the next week at the store, you spend more than usual to make up for the food you need, rather than having an even amount spread throughout the month? I like the idea, just trying to figure out how best to go about it. I often go longer between grocery store runs than normal, but I find the bill is much higher the following time for not going sooner so I’m not sure if it’s worth it.

    • I had the same questions as far as if it was something that could actually help me month to month or would just clear me out and not really save me anything. Amazingly, we have done it now for 3 months and saved $400 every time. I keep the focus on using up odds and ends – what is in the back of my freezer, fridge, and pantry, and how can I use it up? Yes, naturally going longer between shopping trips means I will need more things the next time. But that “use it up” mindset has really made a big financial shift both within those “no spend days” and during the rest of the month. I’m more likely to consider what I really need when I do shop and more determined to not let food go to waste all month long. Give it a try for a few months and let me know how it goes! : )

  2. I was doing some calculating going into the last week of what feels like an extra long month. I was so shocked to see I still had $200 to spend for groceries! I did an inventory, made a meal plan, and spent only $80 of the $200. Yes!

    • Wow – look at you go! I love how empowering budgeting can be when approached with the right tools and attitude. Great job!

  3. I was doing some calculating going into the last week of what feels like an extra long month. I was so shocked to see I still had $200 to spend for groceries! I did an inventory, made a meal plan, and spent only $80 of the $200. Yes!

  4. This is a wonderful idea! I am implementing it right away. Great way for me to think outside the normal go to dinner idea and create a meal I possibly would have never made. Thanks for all your input!

  5. This is such a great idea! Good for our budgets and our planet. So silly to waster money and food! Thanks for the motivation to try this.

    • Happy it’s an easy one to implement right away! It’s super empowering and YES – great for the budget and the planet. Woot woot!


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