Grocery Budgeting Made Simple

Grocery Budgeting Made SimpleOur money and our time; the two things we need the most…and the two things we seem to waste the most. But it doesn’t have to be that way, especially when it comes to shopping and grocery budgeting!

Using my SIMPLE mnemonic in your everyday shopping, planning and grocery budgeting will save you both time and money {not to mention, your sanity}.

I try to feed my family nutritious food {most of the time}. And I prefer not to spend a lot of time at the store or in the kitchen. Once in a while we’ll do fancy, gourmet meals, but generally we eat simple, easy, healthy meals. I also don’t like spending a ton of money on groceries; yet another reason why it’s important to have a household budget.

So here’s how this works…

Standardize

This refers to multiple ways and opportunities to streamline and make your household run more efficiently. One major way I incorporate this in my household is in how we standardize our weekly meals and grocery budget.

The first step is to cross-check our family schedule and activities for the week and determine which days we’ll be eating at home. From there we plan our standard weekly menu {for example}:: Meatless Monday, Taco Tuesday, Take-out Wednesday, Pasta Thursday, Fishy Friday, etc. That doesn’t necessarily mean that every Tuesday we have tacos, but we do have some form of it:: taco salad, taco bowls, nachos, quesadillas or traditional tacos. You’ll see how this feeds into the model {planning and prep} in a bit.

Another way I incorporate this is to have an organized and fully-stocked pantry. This doesn’t happen overnight, but as you can {per your budget} start stocking up on things you regularly consume: tuna, oatmeal, condiments, pasta, rice, bread flour, whole grains, healthy snacks, peanut butter, protein powder, etc.

Be Intentional

Being intentional refers to my weekly trip to the grocery store {see what I did there?…weekly}.

First off, I never, ever make a trip to the grocery store when I’m tired or hangry or not in the mood. I never go to a grocery store I’m not familiar with {i.e. where things are physically located in the store}. I rarely take the kid with me unless I have no other choice. All of these cause me to buy things I don’t need and spend more than I should. If this isn’t an option for you {maybe you’re always hangry}, then online shopping and curbside pickup {on FREE days} might a good option for you? Remember the goal is to buy only what you need for the week, start building your pantry and to stay within your budget.

Second, while I’m at the store, I’m very purposeful. I start in the produce section and circle the outside of the store: produce, meat, dairy, baked goods. I always have my list handy {Alexa} and I don’t buy items that aren’t on my list {I’ll cover the list-making in a bit}. I only stroll the aisles of the store for pantry items that are on my list. I purposely do not buy the ‘bargain’ end-cap display products.

Note: I’m rarely in the store more than 20 minutes and I only go to the grocery store once a week

Meal Planning & Prep

This is a big one {or two}!

Now that we’ve standardized our menu, we can get even more intentional about what we’re cooking this week and a general idea of how much to cook {my family is not big on left-overs}.

It works for my family to grocery shop and prep on Sunday, then we’re pretty much set for the week; your day might be different.

Here are some examples of how I plan and prep for the week.

I always cook 2-3 pounds of ground beef with onions and seasonings. I can use this throughout the week for tacos, pasta, pizza, baked potato bar or salads.

I always cook 3-4 chicken breasts in my Instantpot {frozen chicken breasts or thighs cook in 15 minutes}! I can quickly shred this for meals throughout the week {same as above}.

I always cook a pot of brown rice and/or quinoa for salads, sides, tacos or veggie bowls.

I always bake 2-3 regular and sweet potatoes for use throughout the week- either potato bars or as healthy carb side dishes.

I always make a huge container of salad fixings washed, cut and tossed so it’s ready to go when we need it {no dressing}.

I always have cut and washed celery, carrots, tomatoes and grapes for quick and healthy kid snacks.

I always have fresh fruit and yogurt for healthy dessert options.

Make a List

If it’s not on my list, I don’t buy it. I don’t fall for the buy two and get 3-free add-ons. Those are not typically items we eat and most likely we don’t need multiples. 

We use Alexa to maintain my shopping list but there are multiple apps for this. When we run out of something, we immediately add it to the shopping list. After we’ve planned our meals for the week all the required items are added to the list if they’re not already on it. The list is sorted to match my path in the store: produce, meat, bread, dairy, heathy snacks, household items, aisle shopping as needed.

After you’ve done this for a few weeks, you’ll see that your list is pretty standard, with few exceptions. This makes for very fast and efficient grocery budgeting and shopping.

Grocery Budgeting:: Track Every Dollar

I’m sure you can tell that I’m pretty anal about tracking our family budget?

You should be too!

It’s no secret that grocery shopping {and eating out} are generally the two budget categories where people tend to overspend {a lot}. It’s so easy to buy stuff you don’t need and probably won’t eat…or you buy things on impulse {because you’re hungry, irritated or have a hangry kid with you}. It’s also very easy to overspend on your grocery budgeting if you’re making multiple trips each week {or daily}. It’s almost a guarantee that you’ll buy more than you need each time you enter the store.

An easy way to get started on your grocery budget {or any household expense category} is to estimate how much you’re spending on this category each pay period. At the beginning you might have to keep your receipts and tally them at the end of the week. After you’ve determined how much you’re spending {which may shock you, by the way}, you’ll need to decide if that seems about right, too much or not enough. A little secret…it’s normally too much. Once you’ve settled on a fixed amount per pay period, do the math to get that into a weekly amount and that’s your budget!

It takes about 2-3 months to build the habit and discipline of grocery budgeting.

But don’t worry, you’ll get there with a bit of planning and practice; just keep it SIMPLE!


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