7 tips to budget for groceries

Since the start of the panorama I have consistently gone over budget with grocery shopping. At first I thought it was because I didn’t always stick to the list and grab some extras, but then I started to be realistic about what was occurring. My family of four plus dog are home all day everyday eating every meal at home. Prices have also increased. I had to make a choice to either cut back or increase my grocery budget. I chose the latter.

Having a realistic budget is key to being successful with implementing it. One of the quickest ways to burnout from trying to improve your finances is feeling like you’re constantly failing. If you’re honest with yourself about your priorities it will make creating your spending plan much easier.

One thing about my family: we’re going to eat. Cooking is an enjoyable hobby for my husband and I have been in a cookbook obsession lately trying new recipes. 

Even still, some weeks we cut it very close but have maintained our budget since making some changes. Here are my top grocery tips that will hopefully be of help to you:

  1. Shop your kitchen – How many times have you gone to the grocery store, bought something, and then get home and see that you already have it? I have done this too many times! Always take inventory of what you have and start to generate ideas for tip #2.
  1. Create a menu – After shopping your kitchen, determine what meals you can put together with what you have. From there, fill in the gaps with what you need to make a menu for the week. Make sure your menu includes all of the meals you will eat at home. For a while, I was only making the menu for dinner and winging it for the other meals and snacks. This leaves the door open for you to shop aimlessly for those items, miss key ingredients, and overspend.
  1. Make a list – This might seem obvious but it’s how you make the list that makes a difference. I prioritize my list like this:
    1. Ingredients for the menu
    2. Staple items (milk, water, detergent, toilet paper, etc. as needed)
    3. Snacks & miscellaneous
  1. Get your coupons – I used to be big on couponing but it takes a lot of time to organize to do it right and sometimes you end up spending more because there are quantity requirements. I do like the digital coupons that our grocery store has. It’s not setting us up for extreme coupon status at checkout but it does take a few dollars off the bottom line.
  1. Use a tally counter or calculator in store – This is something I used to do when shopping (that I need to start again) and my husband still does this consistently. We use the Tally Counter app to keep track of the running cost. I like the counter instead of the calculator because if for some reason you clear it or mess up the count, you can recall the previous count. We always round up to the next dollar so if something costs $5.25, we tally for $6.
  1. Shop several stores – It’s convenient to get everything at one place and most times we do but I find my budget stretches better if I split my grocery order between Aldi and one other store. I typically do some combination of Aldi, Shoprite, and Whole Foods to complete my shopping but Aldi always has the best prices.
  1. Rewards apps – I love earning free money and rewards with apps like Fetch and Ibotta. With Fetch, you scan your receipts to earn points to redeem for gift cards and other rewards. Ibotta allows you to scan your receipts for cash back. Both are free to download and you can sign up for Fetch and Ibotta rather quickly.

Do you have any grocery shopping tips that help you save money? Leave them in the comments!

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