Having a budget has really made an impact on our life. I know that may sound silly but it has really put into perspective where we have been spending our money and where we can cut back a little to put away for a buying a new house, car, and upcoming vacations. So I wanted to start a little budget series on what we are doing and what might not be working and what has really helped us on this budgeting journey of ours.
This week I want to focus on the grocery budget. I personally feel like this budget is where we struggled in the beginning because we pretty much just bought whatever we wanted. Also, I’ll share in just a moment but we planned meals based off of what sounded good and not used what we already had. I’ll explain my process in how this really saves us a lot of money but I shop our house first before I make a meal plan for the week and go to the grocery store.
What should my budget be?
This is my top question I get asked. Your budget is customized to you and your family but a base to start off at I like to use this equation. $100 per member of your family per month. For example, we are a family of 5 so that puts us at $100 x 5 = $500. If you are a family of 2 I would start your budget at $300 and see how you do. So our families grocery budget is $500 a month. I break this down by week, so we get $125 a month on groceries. Typically, I stay under that unless there is a major meat sale somewhere and I stock up.
The grocery category for me entails, groceries, household, and cleaning items. If this doesn’t work for you I would recommend starting a separate household budget. This works for my family because we shop at Costco and Sams Club and get most items in bulk that last 4 to 6 weeks.
What to buy in bulk?
I have some staple items that we ALWAYS buy in bulk. I hate buying certain items for the grocery store because it’s sometimes the same price for 1 item that you could buy for bulk for 2. For staple items it’s more of our household items that we like to keep stocked and get for a cheaper price.
Weekly Vegetable Item
These are more of staples items that the prices usually never change and when buying in bulk are actually cheaper in the long run then if you would buy them from your local grocery store. For example: Ritz Crackers at our local City Market are $2.99 a box. 1 box contains 5 sleeves of crackers. Sams Club has Ritz Crackers for $7.49. 1 box contains 18 sleeves of crackers. So $2.99 x 3.5 = $10.47 so you’re saving $2.98 for the box at Sams then if you would have bought them over at City Market. And don’t get me wrong. If they go on sale at City market for $1.99 a box I will always pick them up but if they are not on sale I will grab them from Sams Club.
How to make a grocery list?
This is where shopping your home first comes in. First and foremost before I start my grocery list I do a list of what I already have on hand. I start in my fridge, then my freezer, and last by pantry. For my fridge I make a list of produce that we need use up, any left over food, and things we could use to make a meal with. In my freezer I write down thing that I can use to make meals.
Once I have my list of items I already have on hand, I try to see what meals I can make for what we already have at home and what items I need to pick up from making a meal. Here is my list from last week.
Quick disclaimer, I am NOT a couponer. I do not collect coupons. This is just not for me and I would rather spend my time doing something else. Not saying I never use them I just don’t like to stress about them. With that being said, I do use store coupons. Safeway, City Market, Sprouts always have their own coupons you can use on their apps or in-store.
I use the store apps to look at weekly ads they have and what the deals of the week are. Typically, I pick one grocery store that has more deals on what we need and shop their that week. We also shop at Sams club to get the staples that we might be out of. This is what my grocery list looks like for the week and once I go through the ads of what is all on sale.
What are some easy go-to meals?
I shared on my instagram stories a couple weeks ago about me meal prepping and one of the best things I did was make some easy grab and go burritos. One of my staple items I buy every week is a rotisserie chicken. I shred it up when I get home and we use that throughout the week for quick meals when we’re in a hurry or something else comes up. Every Sunday I make up some rice and bag it up for easy meals.
Make ahead breakfast burritos and sandwiches.
I use Jimmy Dean sausage, scrambled eggs, potatoes, and cheese for the burritos.
Bacon, fried egg, cheese, for the sandwiches.
The boys like frozen blueberries tossed in or any fruit we might have on hand with one minute oats.
Grab and go burritos.
I use the shredded chicken, rice, cheese, and black beans and freeze.
Again, I use shredded chick or beef and cheese.
Having a chicken in the crockpot you can make anything with it. This is always an easy goto meal for us. We like to toss is green chilis or bbq sauce, heat up a veggie, and serve with rice/quinoa/noodles.
I shared my chili recipe last year and this is one of our easy dump and go meals. I usually have like 95% of the items I need to make it! You an find the recipe here and the pumpkin can just be taken out if you don’t like pumpkin.
If you’re in a pinch and wanting to add something that’s quick and easy nachos are ALWAYS a goto for us. We use any leftover meat we have made from the week and usually do nachos on the weekend. BBQ Chicken nachos, Green chili Chicken nachos, Ground Beef nachos.
Make your budget work for you
Meal planning is one way to make your grocery budget work for you. Anything you do not eat can be frozen and saved for a later date. Any veggies I don’t use before they go bad, I chop up and freeze to save for meals at a later time. For example: we bought carrots in bulk and used for a couple dinner and snack but still had a bunch left. I chopped some up and froze them and I shaved some up for carrot cake and froze so I could make later.
Double batching food is a great way to make your budget work for you. If you’re planning a meal that is on sale, buy double to make a second one and freeze for a later date.
Making homemade things saves on your budget and gives you more to spend on other items you may want.
Stayed tuned for the second part of this budget series!