Your Grocery Budget

A friend of mine commented to me yesterday about the rising prices of food and how difficult it has been to stay within her food budget. She is an incredible budgeter and has been doing it for a number of years, so I knew that if she is feeling it, everyone is feeling it. I have definitely noticed it as well in the price of food. Every price in the supermarket has gone up significantly just in the last three months and I think everyone is feeling the effects of it. There are two ways to deal with the rising price in groceries: 1) increase your budget for groceries 2) Lower your grocery bill. If you have the money to increase your budget then this may be exactly what you need to do. However, it is always a great idea to save money.

So, today I am going to be giving you my top 5 tips for saving money at the grocery store. I have cut my grocery budget by $200 a month using these methods, and I think it really has helped to insulate my family against the rising food prices. Hopefully, it will help you and your family as well.

1) Don’t go grocery shopping without a grocery list. I can’t even tell you how much more money I spend when I go shopping unprepared. I forget items and have to go back to the store, which usually means I spend even more. I also buy miscellaneous items that I don’t really need. A little preparation in advance in writing a detailed list will save you so much money and time shopping. I have a printed list that I just highlight what I need each week. You can see a copy of it here. You could even take my list and add to it and use it as a starter list (obviously you have your own products, food tastes, etc that you like). It is just a lot easier to have a list already made than to handwrite a list each week. Then after I have made my list, I don’t buy anything that isn’t on the list. Those impulse buys can actually add up to hundreds of dollars each year.

2) Buy the newspaper and cut coupons (or print the internet printable coupons). I know that it seems like work and why bother for $.40… but I regularly cut $20-25 off of my food shopping each week through coupons and price matching. Price matching is only available at Walmart, but they will match any competitor’s price as long as you have a flyer (advertisement) to show the price. Instead of shopping multiple stores, I just write the store name and price on my grocery list and then show the cashier the flyer to get the price. Literally, I save about $100 a month doing this. When you are saving $1 or more on every item it really adds up. Couponing can be tedious, but I actually consider it a little side job to earn money for my family and that helps me to be joyful in doing it. Basically for 3 or so hours a week, I am earning a few hundred dollars.

3) Cook in bulk. You actually can save time and energy by making more than just one meal at a time. Freeze the extra and you will be so glad that you have ready made meals waiting for you. It can also save you money by you not eating out when you don’t feel like cooking.

4) Try to establish a list of favorites that you routinely cook for you family. Cooking with recipes is fun, but all of the additional ingredients can get costly. I have about 20 meals that I rotate in and out. They all are simple meals that I just keep the ingredients on hand for. I know about what it costs to make the meal so I try to balance them each week. For instance, if we have grilled steak one night (which is a pricier meal), I will probably have curry and rice that week with is a very inexpensive meal (under 5$) that always has leftovers. I usually only cook a new recipe once, maybe twice a week (if I have lots of energy), so that I am not continually buying new ingredients.

5) Learn to buy when the prices are low. Did you know that grocery stores (even Walmart) change all of their prices from week to week. If you begin to track prices you will find that there is typically a low price one week of every month. If you routinely buy rice (for instance) at the low price and buy it for the month and then use your coupons when the price is low, you will save a lot over the course of the month instead of buying it weekly at whatever price. For instance, a large box of goldfish (for my kids) costs about $5.97 at the low price at Walmart. I have seen it go as high as $7.97 during the course of the month! Imagine saving $2 on every item that you buy just by buying at the low price. Don’t just think you are getting the lowest price because you always buy the same thing. All grocery stores fluctuate their prices, so pay attention and buy when it is low.

I so hope that this has been a little helpful today. If you don’t do the shopping, it may not interest you at all, but everyone has to eat. Not being smart with your grocery shopping is just like throwing money away. Yes, it takes a little time, but you gave a lot of your time to earn that money. Wouldn’t you rather put it towards something you really want, rather than just handing it over blindly to the grocery store?

And on a personal note, I just wanted to say thank you to all of you who prayed for me yesterday and thought of my little Noah. He had the best first day in Kindergarten. He is so excited to go back and told me that his teacher is “soooo nice.” God is so faithful to a Mommy’s heart. Ironically, we felt lead to place Noah in private school this year and we actually can afford to send him because of what I have been saving on groceries. Talk about a better use for our money. Like I have said before, having a vision for why you are budgeting is the best motivator to keep on going. And for me, seeing Noah’s joyful face at the end of today is all the vision that I need 🙂