Ask Away...: How To Budget Better with Groceries

Monday, September 29, 2014

How To Budget Better with Groceries

I recently asked everyone what budget related topics they wanted me to write about and one of the topics that came up was budgeting with groceries.  




Groceries can be a major expense but if you budget very carefully you can spend money wisely and maybe even find places to save money every month!  

Here are some ways to budget better with groceries.




Meal Planning//  Meal planning is an amazing thing because it not only helps you figure out what you will eat and when but it gives you an outline of everything you'll need from the grocery store for that week. Sit down and look at what you have in your pantry (spaghetti and sauce, meat in the freezer) and see what meals you can make from that for the week.  After a month of planning your meals you'll find it's easy to get on a routine of what meals you make on what days and you'll find that you have a whole selection of ideas to choose from each month.  All you have to do is change the days you eat the meals on (or if you are a creature of habit like me, just stick to the same schedule every month!)




Make a  List// Seriously, if you don't write down everything you need for each meal (breakfast, lunch, and dinner!) you'll always end up forgetting something and then you'll have to make more trips to the store, which means more distractions each time you go.  Also, when you make a list STICK WITH IT.  Those displays they set up are meant to entice you, but keep looking at your list and telling yourself if it's not on the list, you aren't getting it.



Take Inventory// Before you leave for the grocery store, see what you already have from your list so that you don't end up buying too much and then letting it go to waste.  Also, take inventory so you see what you are low on with regular things like Milk or eggs so that you can get them all in one trip.



Cut Coupons// The key to cutting coupons is to only cut the ones you will need.  If you don't eat pasta ever, then don't bother cutting coupons for pasta.  Some people buy stuf on sale and then never end up using it.



Research Sales// Each week after you cut coupons, check out the weekly circular for your grocery store.  Are there any items that are on your list, that are on special?  Put a star next to them, and also make a note if you have a coupon for the item as well. It's great to double up on sales.  You also can plan your meals around the sales after you get good at the meal planning.



Buy Generic// The thing about coupons is that they usually aren't for generic brands, so you may still end up paying more money than you need to.  For example: The pasta on the coupon is .50 off, and it costs $2.50 normally.    The generic brand costs $1.00.  So even if you used your coupon on the name brand, you will be paying $1 more than if you just bought the generic.   Always buy generic.  The price usually is better than any retail brand.  



Don't Be Fooled// A good deal can actually not be a great deal for your budget.  It may be 2 for $6 with ice cream, but do you really need to eat that much ice cream? It's not good for your diet... so maybe just buy a healthier dessert instead.  Also, with me, I don't fall for any coupons that say $1.00 off 2.   I usually don't need 2 of that item, or it will end up being something that will go bad before I use it.  Always stick to your meal plans and shopping list first before worrying about deals. 




Track Your Expenses// Once you start doing the above for a few weeks, you can save your receipts and add up what your monthly grocery expense is.  Since you are shopping more wisely you may notice that you only spend $400 a month for your whole family, rather than the $600 you used to spend.   And you know what this means? You can start budgeting $400 for groceries every month and then use the $200 elsewhere like to pay down debt or to build up your emergency fund.

What grocery store tips do you use to save money?






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