Have you ever worked out your average monthly cost on groceries? Groceries are a significant expense and if you don’t set a budget, you can easily overspend. As we head into the New Year, full of economic uncertainty, I wanted to share why shopping for groceries on a budget is the best way to save money.
It’s all too easy to wander down the aisles filling your basket with food – most of which you don’t really need. Not to mention, the temptation of those strategically placed sweet snacks on your way to the checkout counter. This can quickly lead to overspending and you’ll find yourself asking “Where did all my money go?” by the end of the month.
The best solution to this problem is to follow this guide and go shopping for groceries on a budget.
Disclaimer: This blog post may contain affiliate links. Keep in mind that I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you when you click my links and make a purchase. However, this does not impact my opinion in any way. I only promote brands I believe in and products that I use and love myself. I try my best to keep things fair and balanced to help you make the best choice for you.
Track Your Spending
If you don’t already have a budget for groceries, then it’s time to get started. But you can’t set a budget without knowing what you’re currently spending on food. Track your spending the next time you go to the grocery store and calculate how much you spend on average for the month. If the number is high, take a look at what you purchase and use this information to figure out if you can make some changes in your spending habits at the grocery store. Keep your receipts and use a budget tracker (I love this one) to keep track of everything.
Monthly Budget & Weekly Plan
Once you’ve tracked your spending, you can confidently set a monthly budget. A rule of thumb would be 10% – 15% of your net income. (Your percentage will vary depending on the size of your household, where you live, and food restrictions.) However, just setting a monthly budget won’t help you stick to it – you need to have a plan. Divide your monthly budget by four and plan your meals out for each week, according to the calculation above. By planning out your meals, you’ll avoid overspending during your weekly trip to the grocery store. This strategy will also help prevent unplanned takeout orders. Use a calendar meal planner and prep for the week ahead on a Sunday.
Make a List & Stick to it
That brings me to my next point – you need a grocery list. Heading into the grocery store without a list is a recipe for disaster. More often than not, your grocery bill will be higher and you’ll arrive home, only to realize you’re missing an essential ingredient for the meal you want to make tonight.
Don’t make your life more stressful than it needs to be.
I love this meal planning calendar/grocery shopping list pad from Amazon. Stick it on your fridge, plan out your meals, write down what you need to buy, and then tear off the sheet to take with you when you head to the store.
Use Coupons Wisely
Now that you’ve prepared yourself with a budget, a plan, and a list, it’s time to shop. But food is pricey, so it can be hard to stick to that carefully considered budget. One way you can stretch the dollar while grocery shopping, is to use coupons. These are a great way to save, but only if they’re for items you actually use and need. Don’t be tricked into buying unnecessary items simply because you have a coupon for them.A good deal is only a good deal if you’re going to save on something that is on your grocery list already. Click To Tweet
Smart shopping is the ability to distinguish between essential and non-essential items.
10 More Tips about Shopping for Groceries on a Budget
The golden rule is not to go grocery shopping when you’re hungry.
Don’t do it!
Being around all that food when you’re hungry is way too tempting and you’ll end up buying a lot more than you intended. Plus, you’ll probably end up snacking on something unhealthy you just bought before you even reach your car.
Shopping for groceries on a budget works best when you’re prepared. But there are other ways to make the experience easier:
- Budget alert: Shop your refrigerator and pantry, as you’re creating your list of food and supplies, so you don’t end up with items you don’t need. Also, be creative with the foods you already have on hand when planning meals.
- Go grocery shopping early in the morning when the store is less busy so that you can get in and out without waiting in long lines or getting side-tracked.
- Buy non-perishable products such as dried fruit and protein bars online to save money on food tax – just make sure shipping is free.
- Purchase fruit and vegetables according to when they’re in season as they’ll be more affordable and more nutritious.
- Buy food such as meat, cereal, and staples in bulk at the start of each month to cut down on costs.
- So you think you can’t eat a healthy diet with frozen vegetables.? You absolutely can and you’ll save too. Cauliflower, carrots, and peas are the least expensive and do well in recipes for soups, etc.
- Keep yourself informed about what’s on sale and don’t hesitate to compare prices between grocery stores.
- Don’t be afraid to buy store brand items instead of name brand items – the quality is generally just as good but at a more affordable rate.
- Leave room in the budget for some fun and tasty “guilty pleasure” items as you don’t want to restrict yourself and your family too much.
- If you’re unsure if you need something, let it go.
The Cost of a Healthy Meal
Most people believe that the ingredients for a healthy meal are expensive. Although this can be true, it doesn’t have to be; especially if you follow the tips in this post.
So, do you want to cook a healthy meal for your family?
Great! Here’s an idea. How much do you think it’ll cost?
For a delicious and nutritious roast chicken meal with vegetables all you need is:
- 1 pound of potatoes
- 2 medium carrots
- 2 stalks of celery
- 1 medium red onion
- 2 teaspoons of olive oil
- 3 chicken breasts with bone and skin
- 1 lemon
- 1 teaspoon of poultry seasoning
- ¼ cup of fresh parsley
I love this meal and you can get the full recipe on the food network.
Surprisingly this entire meal costs under $3 per serving. Add a healthy salad (also inexpensive) and you’re done!
If you’re aiming to spend less and save more in 2021, shopping for groceries on a budget is a good starting point.
As with most things in life, it won’t work without a good plan. So your first step is to track your spending habits and formulate an appropriate budget from this information. Then, plan out your meals and use a list and coupons to shop wisely and frugally.
Finally, make sure to follow the tips I provided for best practices when it comes to shopping for groceries on a budget.
Do you tend to overspend when it comes to groceries?
PIN IT FOR LATER: