Budgeting

Grocery Shopping on a Budget

The USDA has a chart to calculate how much the average family spends on groceries each week. According to the chart, the thrifty plan for my family of five would spend $191.50 each week. For my family, I spend $110 per week at the grocery store. Even when there was six of us (with two teenage boys), I only spent $120 per week.

I have a lot of tips and most of them start with planning ahead. I don’t go to the store without a list planned from my menu plan. I also don’t go more then once a week. Every time, I do that I spend too much money. Just yesterday, my store didn’t have something that my husband really wanted. So, he went to a different store and spent $15. We have extra cash each week and he used that because we really try to stay within our budget limits.

Here are some other tips:

-Don’t buy prepackaged treats. Prepackage your own treats. The big bag is much less expensive then buying prepackaged foods. Also, I’ve heard the tip that the kids can’t eat the packaged stuff at home. So, they need to get out a bowl and eat from the big package.

-Buy less convenience foods. I always balance my need to save time with my need to be on a budget. I do buy shredded cheese instead of the block. I will generally have some frozen meals in the freezer. But, I think about how much it would cost me compared to eating out before I purchase it. I don’t buy really expensive and super convenient foods. Learn how to cook. Usually, you can find easy recipes online for similar items and make it yourself for a lot cheaper.

-Stock up on sales. When there is a sale on items we use a lot, I will stock up. There’s a case of canned tomato sauce in the basement right now. I only buy some things when they are on sale and then we use it up before buying more.

-Organize your food. Go through your fridge, freezer and pantry occasionally. Make sure that you are using the items before they expire or go bad. You aren’t saving money if you’re throwing things away all the time.

-Store brands. Don’t overlook the store or generic brands. Some of these items are made by the same manufacturers just packaged in more generic containers. Medicine is a big one. Usually for a fourth of the price, I can purchase OTC medications that aren’t name-brand.

-Do the math. Generally, we think that the bigger box is going to be the better deal. Make sure you are doing the math and spending the least per ounce. Ranch dressing is often a good example of this. The biggest container is only the best deal when it’s on sale. We use a lot of Ranch so I’m conscious of the price.

Grocery budgets are an easy way to make or break your budget. Plan ahead and look for ways to save money. You will find that it gets easier and you aren’t spending as much time once you have tried making a list and menu plan each week.

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