How to Keep a Grocery Budget

How to Keep a Grocery Budget


How to Keep a Grocery Budget

For whatever reason, you have decided it’s time to create a food budget. Great step! But now it’s time to actually use it and change your shopping habits to be in line with that budget. Many of you will find that this is a lot harder than it sounds.

I think one reason people have a hard time with this is because they say “Its Food! we need to eat” The truth is, you can eat and still limit yourself each month to how much you spend.

If you are really having a hard time staying within your budget, the first thing you need to decide is whether or not the number you created is realistic. If you read my previous post on How to Create a Food Budget, you would have seen that one of the steps in creating that budget is to review your current food spending.

If you skipped that step, it may be time to go back and really take a look at what you have been spending your money on. If the number you came up with is a lot bigger than the budget number you choose, you need to decide if it can realistically be cut.

Now that you know your budget number is realistic, there are a few tips you can try to help keep you on track with your budgeting goals.

  1. I am a huge fan of the “Envelope System”. (You can read more about that HERE) But basically it means we use cash whenever possible and never cards. That way we can only spend what you have in your envelope. This is a big part of keeping us on track with our budget each week.
  2. You will find you are better able to stick to your budget if you always know where you are at with it. Keep tracking DAILY of what you spend so you know what you have left for the week or the month. And continue to analyze your spending as you are tracking it to see if there are other places or items that can be cut from your spending.
  3. A huge part of sticking to a food budget is planning. Create your shopping list ahead of time so you know exactly what you will be spending when you get to the store. This also means avoiding those impulse buys that we sometimes want to do.
  4. Create a menu plan based on what is on sale vs what your family wants to eat. This is where you will need to get creative!
  5. Don’t do this alone. Make sure your spouse and other members of your family are on board and supportive of the decision. If they are not always asking for “one more thing” in the shopping cart or to be added to the list, it will make your job a lot easier.
  6. Always keep your goals in mind. Don’t just think “I need to stick to my budget.” Think about why you are using a budget. You want to save money for your family vacation or you are trying to save for a house or car. Sometimes keeping the bigger picture in mind helps you to stay on track a little easier.
  7. Don’t get frustrated if you don’t make your budget number one week. There are always inconsistencies when it comes to money and expenses, and it’s much harder to get back on track if you are overly hard on yourself about one or two mistakes.

I announced a couple of days ago that I am Challenging my Grocery Budget for the month of August! I’d love for you to join us!

photo credit: JoshuaDavisPhotography via photopin cc

  • Sabrina H. says:

    I am committed to this challenge, but I have a couple of questions. My family is trying to transition to a plant based diet, so I’m wondering if you have any advice for couponing at Trader Joe’s? That is where I am able to to buy vegan and organic foods much easier than at other stores, so I have been almost exclusively shopping for my food there. I want to try to cut our grocery bill in half, but I also want to make sure that we are eating good foods. My grocery bill has gotten high lately because of the, “But we need to eat.” mentality that you talked about, but I know there has to be a way to cut down the bill with coupons, even at Trader Joe’s! Any help would be appreciated. Thanks!

    • Josie says:

      Trader Joes accepts coupons Sabrina–however, they have a lot of their own brand. If you have a Sprouts or Whole Foods nearby, that is where I would suggest buying produce!

    • Daisy says:

      I highly recommend checking out the 99 Cents Only stores on Wednesday and/ or Saturday mid-morning. They get “overflow” from growers and grocery stores and have quite a bit of organic produce as well as conventional produce. This is not outdated or bad food! It is awesome produce at stupid low prices, a lot of it is the same brands you find at Sprouts and Whole Foods but you do have to go when they have just stocked to get the best, freshest stuff because the place is really busy with all of the other smart shoppers who know what kind of awesomeness you can get there on Wed & Sat mornings.

      • Kelly A. says:

        Ditto on 99 cents – love to get their organic produce. You would be surprised how fresh some of it is. Also, I scored a 128 oz Tropicana OJ for 99 cents a couple of weeks ago, not there last week. Some really good organic deals sometimes.

      • carla l. says:

        our family LOVES 99 cents only….the greatest thing being that there are two less than a mile from our home 😉 sometimes it’s the kind of store where ya have to stop by several times a week to find the deals …kinda hit or miss ;). we save so much money there :).

    • Susan says:

      I love my Costco Amex card. We spend everything on it and commit to paying it off each month. Each February I get about $500 cash back. Love it!!

  • Andrea says:

    Thanks for the tips. I talked to my husband and he’s on board with it, he said, “as long as you’re not stuck in the house with 4 kids with beans and rice.” So I’m going to have to be creative, but I honestly think we can do it. I’m just afraid we won’t be able to eat out or anything…..THAT will be hard. But like you said, it’s not a challenge if it’s not hard.

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