Knowing how to grocery shop on a budget is key to helping you meet your food budgeting goals.
So, you did the work and came up with a great plan for your new Food Budget amount. That work is only one part of a Food Budget. In fact, that may have been the easiest part. The real work begins after you’ve determined what the amount will be. With a few tips and tricks you’ll be able to grocery shop on a budget like a pro.
Grocery Shopping is not just about the grocery stores. Although that may be the largest portion of your food shopping, other food expenses such as restaurants also should be included.
There are so many great ideas for helping you stick to your Grocery Budget. We’ll going to cover many types of food expenses is this Food Shopping Tips post.
Here are our Top 10 Best Grocery Shopping Tips
Mindset, specifically changing your mindset is something we hear all the time now. It’s with good reason. When you change your mindset, it typically improves your life in some manner. Our mindset is truly important. We can control how we think. Budgeting and mindset go hand in hand also.
As you consider adopting some of the following food budget tips into your life, remember to consider them in a positive manner. Rather than thinking, “I can’t afford to go out to eat 5 times this week”, think differently, such as: “I choose to eat out only 2 times this week”. Or, instead of thinking “I am never going to save enough money to take a vacation”, think “I’m successfully sticking to my food budget so I can take this vacation”
Don’t just think this affirmation once a week. Say it and write it daily – in fact, several times a day is very helpful.
Make it a Weekly Food Budget
When you Grocery shop on a budget, you may be looking at one total amount for the whole month. If that is creating a problem, try using a weekly food budget instead. Take your total Food Budget amount for the month and divide it by 4. Let’s say it is $450. So, $450 divided by 4 means that you’ll have $112.50 each week for food.
It may be easier to meet you Food Budget if you do it by week rather than by the month. You don’t want to start out with $450 and find yourself down to $35 on week 4. Breaking it down into 4 weekly totals helps alleviate that problem.
Plan your Meals
Each week, plan the meals that you will be eating. I really like this Meal Planner. It is simple to use and helps me keep track of the meals we typically eat, plus it has some great extra planning pages (brainstorming, already have at home, shopping list).
Always begin your meal planning by shopping your own pantry and freezer. Choose some of your weekly meals from what you already have on hand.
Next, consider the sales ad from your local grocery stores and what you can make from what is on sale, along with what is already in your pantry or freezer.
Don’t forget to consider your family’s favorite meals. You don’t want to think of the Food Budget as an inconvenience or that you are doing without the foods you love. Try to plan for foods that you and your family truly enjoy.
In addition to helping you stick to your Food Budget, Meal Planning also makes meal time easier. No more deciding at the last minute what you’re going to fix for breakfast, lunch, dinner or snacks.
If you need include some quick meals for some of the days, don’t hesitate to buy sandwich fixings to have on hand. There’s a huge variety available: Lunchmeat, pimento cheese or chicken salad (you can make your own if you wish – it’s cheaper and usually healthier), peanut butter and jelly, grilled cheese, just to name a few of the possibilities.
When you plan your meals in advance, you’ll be able to easily identify ways of cooking one time and eating twice. For example, you might cook chicken breasts one night and then make a chicken spaghetti two days later.
The possibilities are endless. Planning your meals is a great way of managing your Food Budget.
Plan when you will Eat Out
While you are focusing on Grocery Shopping on a Budget, you may be surprised to find out how much of your food money is being spent on eating out. This was a problem for us. I told our embarrassing eating out story here.
Oftentimes we eat out even when we weren’t planning to. There is great value in considering eating out as a special time. Something that we do now and then, rather than something that is the norm.
Here are three of the benefits:
- It will save you money
- You will be eating healthier
- Eating out becomes a treat and you enjoy it more.
When you eat out be smart and consider ways you can save at restaurants. Why should you pay the full amount when others are not?
Many restaurants offer coupons or apps with specials. Some offer free appetizers (Chili’s for example) or discounts after you spend a certain dollar amount (Beef O’Brady’s for example).
Many restaurants, especially around Christmastime, offer a bonus if you buy their gift card. You may receive a $10 gift card if you purchase a $50 gift card. If you don’t need the $50 gift card as a gift for someone else, buy it for your family. You’ll have paid $50 and will receive $60. That’s a 20% bonus. Yay!
Shop Smart to stick to your Food Budget
Using coupons (they can be a pain, even digital ones) is not the only way to save money at the grocery store. Planning your meals allows you to truly shop the sale ads of your local grocery stores. You can plan your meals around your pantry and the grocery store ads.
If you have a store like Aldi’s or Sam’s nearby, be sure to shop them. Our nearest Aldi’s is 30 minutes away and Sam’s is one hour away. So, they are not very convenient. If you have the same issue, don’t let that stop you from shopping there. Just plan a once-a-month trip to that store and get the items that you like to purchase there.
Planning your meals ahead helps with this type of shopping. With the prices of groceries now, we’ve upped our Aldi’s trip to twice a month and only travel to Sam’s every few months to purchase the items we like to buy in bulk.
Find what works best for you and your Food Budget.
Don’t be too rigid with your Food Budget. If you are, you and/or your family will burn out and not want to stick to it. Allow yourself an opportunity to eat out one extra time, or buy a more expensive brand of an item, etc.
Do whatever will help your mindset to view the Food Budget in a positive manner rather than in a negative way.
For example, about a month ago, Sonic offered their foot long hot dogs for $1.99. We didn’t hesitate to change our meal plan for the night. Not only is Sonic 30 minutes away, but it is near the Aldi’s mentioned above. We enjoyed our little treat and then did our Aldi’s Shopping a week earlier than planned. We had a fun evening! Sometimes it’s the little things that bring great pleasure. Moral of the story – be flexible and enjoy!
Practice Self-Discipline with your Food Budget
Only you and your family can make this Food Budget a success. It does require self-discipline, but it will be worth it. It takes effort to resist the temptation of eating out or not buying things on the spur of the moment.
Anything that is worthwhile typically takes effort. There is a reason you are wanting to control the amount of money you are spending on food. Focus on that reason. This will help you to develop self-discipline in this area.
Make It a Fun Family Challenge
If your family enjoys challenges, make meeting the Food Budget a family challenge. The family can help you come up with meals and look for savings opportunities. They may even like to take charge of one meal a month.
When you are saving for a specific dollar goal, use a tracker like this and let the family help you “track” the savings as you work toward reaching your goal. Your whole family will be rooting each other on!
Celebrate your Success in keeping your Budget
As you begin to see success in meeting your Food Budget amount each week, you will begin to reap the benefits.
Is your goal simply to cut costs (there’s nothing wrong with that – that’s usually my reason) or are you trying to save up money for a vacation, or to buy a new couch, or to pay an outstanding bill?
Whatever your reason, recognize that keeping your Food Budget is going to be worth it!
Tweak your Food Budget
No matter how you Grocery Shop on a budget, you may find that the amount you selected just it not doable. Be ready to increase it a bit if necessary.
Or, if you see that you don’t need so much funds in your food budget, go ahead and decrease it.
If the Food budget amount is working, but sometimes you have a little left over at the end of the month, use it wisely. Here are 3 ideas:
- Save it for a special purchase (maybe a new food gadget)
- Set it aside and use it for a bulk purchase of food
- Is there another area in your budget that really needs some more funds – go ahead and use it there
- Treat your family to an evening out
If you haven’t set up your Grocery Budget yet, just go to this How to Make a Food Budget post to get you started.
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