I am asked on a regular basis if I can help families figure out the best grocery budget for them. There is no ONE SIZE FITS ALL ANSWER. Every family is unique in diet, food preferences, and lifestyle. Coming up with the best grocery budget for your family is definitely individualized, but I do have some helpful tips that can guide you to the best answer.
WHY Do You Want A Grocery Budget?
Most people want a grocery budget for a financial reason. I would say the majority of people feel the need for a grocery budget because they have fallen into tough financial seasons. Either somebody has lost their job, an unexpected expense hits their family, or they are on a “get out of debt” Dave Ramsey debt-free journey.
These are all very important reasons to consider creating a grocery budget, as it was my reasoning as well… but we should all have a grocery budget in all circumstances, not just through tough times.
Before figuring out your budget, first answer why you want one. The importance of acknowledging your WHY will help you stick to your budget. Just wanting one will not stop you from impulse buying at Target. You need to have a WHY.
Recognize That Your Grocery Budget Can Change
When creating a grocery budget, you want to consider all seasons and how you have the freedom to change it. My grocery budget right now is way different than it was during the summer. Why? Because during the school year I’m typically packing lunches for my kids and husband, making treats for different get-togethers, and wanting to try new and different recipes around the holidays. (2020 has definitely proven to be a different kind of year, but lets remember how years past have been.)
Recognize that throughout the year you have the freedom to change your grocery budget, and don’t feel guilty for doing it because it will eliminate failure.
Simplifying Your Shopping Trips = Cheaper Budget
Never feel like you are stuck if you create a grocery budget. It can change each month and be adjusted if you need it to be. This past year I started bulk buying at the beginning of each month. This has affected how I budget for groceries. There are certain foods I no longer need to purchase during the month, because its already been purchased. I LOVE bulk buying!!!!! It’s definitely affected how I shop, but only for the better!
Bulk Buying Food – Blog Post
The less grocery trips you make, the less money you’ll spend. I am not a fan of spending all of my grocery money at the beginning of the week because the idea of not having money when I need it bothers me. I typically hold back at least $20, so during the week if I forget an ingredient or we unexpectedly host a get-together with family or friends, I have some back-up money to help pay for unexpected expenses.
Don’t Sacrifice Your Health Just To Eat Cheap
My main goal is to always eat healthy on a budget. You should NEVER compromise your health just to save a buck. Your health is all you have, and without it you have nothing.
When my husband lost his job, we had a huge WHY for having a grocery budget. We were on the “beans and rice” grocery budget, scraping by and using every penny we had, but we did not sacrifice all for our health. I looked for ways to eat healthy and cheap foods on a budget. We are in a much better spot now, so our grocery budget is very freeing. Like I said before, there is no right or wrong answer, as long as you are following a plan that fits your financial goals and nourishes your body.
Grocery Budget Guide
- “Beans and Rice Budget” = $20 per person per week
- “Meeting Goals Budget” = $30 per person per week
- “Living The Life Budget” = $50 per person per week
You might think I’m CRAZY with these numbers, but I have been doing this for a long time and it works!!!! One summer, back in the day, my husband, our 3 year old daughter, and me challenged ourselves to only spend $30 per week on groceries. That’s just $10 per person per week! We had a garden, and my parents had fruit trees with fresh plums and peaches on them.
When extreme couponing was popular, we used our grocery ads to price-match at Walmart to get the lowest prices on foods. It worked and we stuck to our crazy low budget all summer!
One point that I want to make with this guide is that anything over $50 per person per week is absolutely not necessary, and actually a money waster. I imagine you throw away a lot of food because you simply don’t eat it all. Too many people go to the grocery store several times per week, while hungry, and buy way more than they were planning on. The food in the fridge gets moldy far too soon, the cereal becomes stale, and you end up throwing away wasted food each week.
Be Apart Of The ZERO FOOD WASTE MOVEMENT
Come join us over on Instagram and be apart of the #zerofoodwaste movement. Only spend money on the food that you’ll actually eat, and eat it! That means all the leftovers too. If you are not a leftovers person, then plan on freezing individual portions for later.
I know friends that only cook 2-3 times per week, and the rest of the nights they are eating up leftovers. What a great idea, especially for working moms. Instead of making 1 nights worth of rice and beans, they make 2-3 nights worth. You can make burritos the first night, taco salads the second night, and enchilada casserole the third night. BRILLIANT!
Meal Planning Is Key
This system works, and it can be done. First step is to meal plan. Get your calendar or planner, and plan out the meals you’re going to make this week. Then, shop for what you need and stick to it. Cook each night, eat up the leftovers, and watch how your family succeeds at big financial goals!
Right now, as a family, we have some HUGE mountain size financial goals. They are taking sacrifices to get there, and we may be eating a lot of rice and beans right now, but the end result will be worth it.
If you are interested in creating a grocery budget, sit down with your family and talk about it. We never make big decisions without having a family meeting, because even creating a grocery budget effects everyone in the family. Explain the situation or the HUGE family goal you want to achieve and get everyone on board with this.
Creating a budget of any kind opens the door for recognizing that impulse spending has been happening and needs to stop. A budget doesn’t limit you to spending, but it opens the door for possibilities that you might have never seen before.
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