Brandon and I have been following the Dave Ramsey style of budgeting for over two years now, and I cannot rave about him enough. This has changed our financial future, for the better. This post isn’t about that, though. This post is about how I spend about $75 a week on groceries.
It started with a Facebook status last week, announcing my joy in spending under $70 at the grocery store with no coupons. I didn’t think much of it, because I typically spend about that much, but then friends were hopping on saying things like, “Wow! Amazing!” and “I spent $230 this week!” and “Tell me your secrets!”
Well, I thought, I have no secrets.
Our groceries have been a source of issues since the beginning. I used to buy too much and things would go bad. I would buy things we didn’t need and it would sit in the pantry for weeks. Once we started setting a budget, I would frequently go over by the end of the month, running out of money and having to take it from other places. In the new year, though, we figured out a new system. It’s been working so far!
So I guess… here are my secrets!
1. I budget only $100 a week on groceries.
I DO NOT GO OVER. If I don’t have the money, it doesn’t get purchased. It took me awhile to figure out just how much I needed each week for groceries and this will fluctuate depending on location and family size. I base our monthly budget on how many Tuesdays are in the month (that’s my shopping day) so that sometimes I pull out $400, sometimes $500. But I only ever keep $100 in my Groceries envelope each week.
2. I make a monthly meal plan.
This has helped immensely. It started back in September and now it’s easy. At the end of the month I spend 15 minutes perusing my meal list and placing meals on days of the month. I make it so I don’t have to buy a variety of meat each week, like, I have a few chicken meals, a fish meal, and a couple beef meals. I buy chicken in bulk at Sam’s once a month, so that’s already in the freezer, and then I only have to buy a pound or two of ground beef or steak, and then some fish. The sides are typically the same (sweet potatoes, broccoli, asparagus, etc.) so when I go to the store I’m roughly buying the same food. No surprises.
I should add, I don’t meal plan breakfasts, lunches or snacks. Our breakfast are always the same – scrambled eggs with veggies, fruit, occasionally sausage or bacon on weekends. Lunches are leftovers or whatever I can scrounge up. Snacks are fruit, nuts, veggies and hummus… I know this, I stick it on the list, and buy the same each week.
3. I only buy what we’re going to eat.
By the end of the week, my pantry and fridge are empty. Literally last week, I had no fruit left and hardly any veggies. I like it that way. We’re eating all the food, it’s not going to waste, and I know I bought the right amount. Even if something is on sale and an awesome deal, I don’t buy it unless we need it. It’s just a waste of money otherwise.
4. I buy 90% fresh fruit and veggies.
Maybe even more than 90%. Since switching to a semi-Paleo diet, I don’t buy things like bread, milk, cheese, crackers, cereal, etc. The vast majority of my money is spent on fruits and veggies. Some say that in this case, their budget gets more expensive… but I spend less now on this diet than I ever did before. And this is with buying stuff to juice too. Buy in season for cheaper options, buy what’s on sale, and again, only buy as much as you need. This stuff goes bad quick.
5. I plan for the extras.
There’s the monthly Sam’s Club run for chicken that costs $20+. There’s the 25lb bag of juicing carrots from Publix for $15. There’s that surprise dinner party. I know things pop up, and I adjust. That’s why I have $100 a week and only spend $75 at the store on Tuesdays. That extra $25 helps me make up for the extras.
6. I don’t impulse buy… much.
I try to stick to my list. If it’s an impulse buy, it’s something like pears or whatever. Sometimes ice cream, because Mommy needs chocolate.
And… I guess that’s it!
Of course, your budget requirements will differ from ours depending on where you live or how many are in your family. Just know, you really don’t need as much as you think you do.
Eat healthy and be strong!
EDIT: My grocery budget is primarily for food, but it can include other things you buy at the grocery store: toilet paper, paper towels, soap, etc. We don’t include pet food, that gets its own budget. Sometimes the non-food items are taken out of our Miscellaneous budget. It really depends on when I’m buying it!