If you’ve been feeling like your dollar doesn’t stretch very far at the grocery store these days, you’re not alone. Food prices have increased drastically within the last year! Here are a few tips to help you keep your grocery list within budget.
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How Much Should You Spend On Groceries Each Month?
Just for fun, let’s start with a little data from the U.S. Department Of Agriculture
This chart is for the USDA’s Thrifty Food Plan as of September 2021.
Our family of five has:
one child (1 year),
two teen boys (14-19 years),
my husband (20-50 years),
and myself (female 20-50 years).
According to this chart my family’s grocery budget for one week should be $255.80, and for one month it should be $1,108.50.
Here is a peek into our actual weekly grocery budget…
We are a one income family of five: two adults, two teenage boys, a toddler in diapers and a dog. Our grocery budget is $140/week. That number includes all household supplies, toiletries, dog food, and diapers.
I go into more detail about our food budget in this post if you want to check it out…
There are too many factors that we have to take into account to determine what YOUR family’s grocery budget should be. Like for example what state you live in, how many people are in your family, do you have teenagers? babies? anyone with special dietary needs?
Once you set a comfortable food budget for your household, use these tips to stay within budget every week.
10 Tips To Help You Keep Your Grocery List Budget
1- Prepare Simple Meals
Keep meals simple. You don’t need to have a nice cut of meat two sides, and a dessert for dinner every night.
Everyone will be just fine with simple meals like: Grilled cheese sandwiches with tomato soup, breakfast for dinner, spaghetti and meatballs, or BLT’s.
Different cuisine styles can be pretty cheap and simple to prepare as well, like for example Mexican food. Burritos, tostadas, or tacos are delicious and easy on the budget.
2- Incorporate Meatless Monday’s Into Your Meal Plan
Listen. Meat is expensive! You could spend most of your grocery list budget on just meat if you’re not careful.
You will notice a difference in your budget if you skip meat just one or two days per week.
Try using these other protein sources…
- Canned Tuna
- Cottage cheese
- Even yogurt has protein in it!
3- Find A Local Farm To Buy Your Meat From
When you purchase meat, try to find the best deal possible.
I’ve discovered you can buy meat in bulk from a local rancher for much cheaper than at the grocery store these days.
Ask around in your local FB groups or farmers market to find a farm near you. I had no idea how many options I had around me until I started asking and searching.
If you can’t find a local fresh source for your meat, then look for meat on clearance at your grocery store. A lot of times you can even find grass fed organic beef in the clearance section. When you find a few trays of it, buy a few extra and throw them in the freezer for later.
4- Shop Your Pantry, Fridge, And Freezer First
How many times have you let food go to waste simply because you forgot it was there?
Don’t let that happen anymore! Check your fridge first. What will spoil if it doesn’t get eaten?
Go to your pantry next and see what meal or side you can make with what you already have on hand.
Check your freezer last and take out what you can use for the coming week meal plan.
After you’ve taken inventory of all three, then finish your grocery list and add anything else you still need for the week.
5- Shop In Season Produce
Buy Fruits and veggies when they’re in season. For example, buying watermelon and strawberries in the middle of winter will cost you! Instead shop for produce that grows in the season you are currently in.
Also, if buying organic is important to you learn about the dirty dozen/clean fifteen lists.
According to the Environmental Working Group, there are some fruits and veggies you can skip buying organic and paying higher prices for.
The EWG comes out with two lists every year specifying which crops have the highest levels of pesticide residue on them, and which crops have the lowest level.
To save money, only buy organic produce from the dirty dozen list and regular produce from the clean fifteen list.
6- Add As You Shop
Take out your cell phone and open the calculator app. Every time you add something to your shopping cart, add the price in the calculator and keep a running tally.
Rounding the price up for each item to the nearest dollar is a great trick too! So if a gallon of milk is $2.79, put the price in your calculator as an even $3. That way by the time you go to check out, you’ll have a pretty good idea what your total will be including tax.
Another thing you could try along these lines, is ordering groceries online using your stores grocery pickup service.
This is mostly the way I’ve been doing our grocery shopping the last couple of years. I like that you can see your total as you shop, and you can still use coupons (digital or paper) if you have them.
7- Learn Sale Cycles And Stock Up Prices
Did you know that everything goes on sale about every six to eight weeks? depending on the store, it might be every eight to twelve weeks. Get to know the stores you shop and pay attention to the sale cycles for each one.
Also figure out what the rock bottom price is on things you always buy, and when they hit that low price stock up!
I know that the best price on a 2 lb bag of shredded cheese in my area is $3.97 (regular price is about $6.97), so when it hits that price I buy enough to last me until the next sale several weeks away. We Put one in the fridge and the rest in the freezer.
8- Don’t Ever Buy Pre-packaged Food
When you’re on a tight budget, you can’t afford to pay for convenience. You can slice those mushrooms and peel that corn yourself at home!
9- Use Grocery Rebate Apps On Your Phone
You don’t see the savings up front like you do with a regular coupon. These apps give you money back or points redeemable for gift cards.
I use both of these apps on a weekly basis and have been for years!
10- Don’t Shop Hungry!
This is such a simple tip but seriously, don’t do it! This is a total grocery list budget buster.
What other ways have you found help you stay in budget when you grocery shop?