The grocery budget. The bane of my existence. I know I can’t be the only one who struggles with the whole grocery budget thing, so I decided to share today about how we cut down our budget without changing our diet.
A few years ago, our grocery bill was pretty much through the roof. For only two people, we were sure spending quite a bit on groceries. Naturally, the bill would be even higher in months like December (Christmas parties galore!) and July (Camping trips, anyone?). We knew we had to make a change and fast.
After we paid off the first third of our student loans back, we decided it was time to really be tight with our grocery budget and we have thus far been successful. In fact, our way of looking at our budget has simplified altogether as a result of this and managing and saving money has never been easier. I decided to focus on the grocery part of things today. Stay tuned for a budgeting post!
What Is Included in my Grocery Budget?
For us, “grocery” includes anything that we eat and any other expendables such as toiletries (shampoo, soap, etc.). Basically anything you can get at your local grocery store that is a necessary consumable for survival. So if you have kiddos and choose to buy diapers, that would fall under that category, and for a cat, food and litter would also fall under this category.
How Much is in my Grocery Budget?
For our budget, our rule of thumb is $100/month per person who lives in our house. You will probably want to consider pets as well as they have food and waste needs as well. We count our fur baby as half a person at $50/month and we never actually end up spending that much on her. This keeps things SUPER simple, because you’re only thinking about one number to stay under per week!
Being Strict About Shopping
In order to keep this realistic, it is EXTREMELY important that you only go to the grocery store once a week, or once every two weeks. Have you ever noticed that every time you go to the store you end up dropping anywhere between $30 and $50 a time? Yes. That is why you need to be strict with yourself and only go once a week.
I get it, you might run out of milk or something. So write it down, and go to the store and ONLY BUY MILK! Keep those blinders on!
Writing lists also helps you use coupons effectively if you do that to save money.
Make A Meal Plan and Shopping List
This is key if you want to stick to the once a week shopping trip. That one time a week trip needs to be guided by a strict shopping list. I get it, you forget to write things down sometimes, but try to visualize everything you will need for the week as you plan and write the grocery list down. Then, when you go to the store, stick to it! We also keep a running shopping list on our fridge. So when we run out of things like ketchup or salad dressing, we can add it to the list quickly and easily.
Related: Confessions of a Meal Planner
Shopping Our Kitchen
Every few months, we make it a point to shop our kitchen for our meal plans. This essentially means that we try to use up everything in our pantry and freezer before buying more. I know that a lot of people like to keep a fully stocked pantry, however, sometimes this leaves you prone to buying too many duplicates or forgetting what you have. We make sure that our pantry is laid out in a way that we can see everything we have when we open the door. We use clear glass containers so we can see the amounts of everything we have as well. We use up our things before adding them to the list.
By doing this, we have also been able to take better note of what items we use more than others and know what we need to write down on the list. Some items are only bought once for an experiment or special event and never needed again.
Related: Confessions of a Meal Planner Part 2
Eat A Lot of Fresh Produce
Getting in your share of veggies actually helps you keep your budget down! Targeting fruits and vegetables that are in season is really great for your budget, and your body as well! Processed food - especially the plant based kind - can be pricey!
Making/Growing Our Own Staples
I’ve learned how to make a few of our staples which has cut down on our grocery bill. Bread is the one that has saved us the most so far, since my husband likes heavier bread being from Europe and all. Things like ketchup and almond milk cost about the same to make as to buy (I’ve done the math and it’s true for our area unless the ingredients are on sale).
I know a lot of people who save a lot on their grocery budget by growing their own food! We haven’t done this yet for ourselves since I have a black thumb...
Shop Sales Strategically
Buy more of your staples when they are on sale, and avoid the sales of things you don’t generally eat - unless you have it on your meal plan or know for sure you will eat it. I’ve seen the tendency of people to buy things simply because they are on sale, only to have them go to waste later!
Having Fun and Being Positive
We allow ourselves to have a few splurges a month (like a pint of our favourite vegan ice cream that costs way too much!), but the best thing to keep in mind is not that you are restricting your budget, but that you are creating a way of life that keeps you mindful of everything you spend and everything you eat! It’s a good thing-trust me.
Controlling your grocery spending can be hard to do, but I believe in you! Reduce your spending and increase your savings! It will be worth it.