For many mamas, the biggest everyday budget struggle deals with groceries and food. It is hard to set a budget and stick to it for many reasons. So, let’s break down some of those reasons and ways to easily build a grocery budget and you can stick to.
Last year in August, I took to Instagram and came clean about my grocery budget struggles. At the time we were spending $600-$1000 a month in groceries and home goods for a family of 4.
Since we are trying to get debt-free and save up to buy a new home after our financial downfall of 2017-2018 it was time to get our grocery budget in order.
That’s why I want to focus this month’s financial journey post on Grocery Budget fixes and tips!
First Thing’s First: Why is your Grocery Budget the way it is?
Figure out the WHY. Why are you spending so much?
Are you buying more then what you need and throwing a lot out? Are you buy only named brand items? Are you just going in and planning as you go or are you eating out too much?
Once you find out your why reduce your grocery budget is pretty simple.
Correct Over Buying
Yes, this seems like a simple fix, but for most, it is the hardest.
In today’s day in age, a lot of sales items are “buy 5 or more to get the reduced price” which are sometimes worth the spend more, get more, save more. However, look at the expiration dates, ask yourself will we use it this month, and do you really need it?
Now, what about those deals on meat or produce that are too good to pass up. Ask yourself can it be frozen. When it comes to most fruits and veggies you can prep, blanch, and freeze them in freezer bags for a later date. Always make sure you have room in the freezer and have a game plan to eat them in the next few months.
Buy Generic Instantly Reduce the Grocery Budget
Far too often we get the impression that named brand items that cost more taste better and are better quality. That is not always the case.
I recommend comparing the ingredients if the generic is similar. You will be surprised how similar they really are.
I challenge you for one month to only buy generic. See how much you save and ask yourself did it change anything other than your ending balance?
Plan it Out
Now, guys, I am not a huge fan of meal planning and prepping. I am a home cook that really likes to wing it and let my creativity show. With that being said, planning saves money so I plan and prep.
There are a few ways to plan.
First is the monthly meal planner. This one forces you to go through the freezer to see what you have and use that first. It doesn’t have to be specific just a simple map out of meals.
At the bottom of the monthly planner, I like to write down non-perishable items. Typically I get these at the beginning of the month so the rest of the month my grocery trips are simple and quick.
Next up is the weekly meal planner this one is where you can get a little more specific. The perishable items I need that week are usually picked from the sales ad if not on sale it typically doesn’t make the meal plan.
At the top of this list, I have a prep section since most of my fresh veggies and meats will need to pre-prepped. Then I make a list of groceries I need with a set budget based on the monthly budget.
Prepping weekly really helps prevent the going out to eat and overspending. Imagine you get home after a long day everything is prepped and ready to go.
Another tip to making things simple is to try to stick to one-pot wonder, skillet meals, slow cooker meals, or sheet pan meals during the week. Less mess, no prep cooking, fewer dishes equals more likely to cook at home.
Bulk Buying Stretches that Grocery Budget
With school in full swing and since moving to a small town. Snacks and meat prices can get a little expensive if we are buying them every month or every week.
That is why I got a chest freezer. When we are in the big city we stock up on meat from Costco. We place it in freezers and make the commute back home. Once home we break the meat packs down into meal-size portions freeze them.
Now instead of spending $100 in meat a month if not more. We stock up and get 3 months plus some worth of meat in one trip spending $50 a month or less.
If you have kids you know you need snacks. If I don’t get them in bulk at Costco I get the variety snack packs from amazon and with subscriptions you get an extra 5% off and if you get 5 or more subscriptions delivered on the same date they give you 15% off and you get to choose how often you will receive them.
Never Go in the Store
Okay, maybe this headline is misleading. However, if you are an impulse buyer I highly recommend using an order ahead and pick up service. I only do this in the city because my small town doesn’t have this. I also only use it when I order enough to make this service free.
The benefits of this service are far beyond the time-saving factor. It can save you a ton of money. You order just what you need and you don’t have to look at all those great sales and overspend.
Grocery Budgeting Conclusion
Budgeting is nothing easy. It is a habit you have to work on forming in order for it to stick.
I have been working on our grocery budget for the past 2 years and I am happy to say we went from spending $800-$1400 on groceries and household items to $400-$600 a month.
Bonus tip: Household items like toilet paper, dish soap, laundry detergent, paper towels and I think you get the point try shopping at Dollar General or Family Dollar on Saturdays. If you download their apps you can stack up the coupons on things you use daily as well as look for their Saturday coupon save $5 on a $25 total purchase.
Doing this I have been able to keep all the household items under $50 a month.
If you want you can follow out 2020 financial journey below:
2020 Finacial Journey
- January ’20
- February ’20
- March ’20
- April ’20
- May ’20
- June ’20
- July ’20
- August ’20
- September ’20
- October ’20
- November ’20
- December ’20
- 2020 Starting Debt: $68,700 (Car’s, Credit Cards, Student Loans)
- Month Debt: I am still working on this but due to the pandemic the numbers are about to dramatically shift.
- Debt Pay off: I am still working on this but due to the pandemic the numbers are about to dramatically shift.
Savings Tips: I challenge you this month to look very closely at your grocery budget and see where you can make cuts. Ask yourself why am I spending so much are there things (like all that babbling above) you can do to lower your grocery budget?