With getting married in college, we have definitely had to learn how to budget well. One of the biggest and most necessary components of our budget is groceries…. I mean, food is one of our basic physical needs! Healthy living (including healthy eating) is really important to me, and I want the type of foods I buy and cook to reflect that. In order to do this and still stay within a budget that works for us, we spend $60 on groceries each week. I know food costs vary depending on where you live, and I’m sure I could improve on “getting even more bang for my buck,” but below are 8 things I do to stay within our allotted grocery budget:
- The biggest tip I have for staying within a grocery budget is to PLAN AHEAD! I start by planning 4 healthy dinners for the week (give or take, because things always come up and we are rarely home for dinner every single night of the week, or if we are home, I may not always have time or energy to cook a full meal). After I’ve decided on the meals I’m going to make for the week, I write out a specific grocery list of everything I’m going to need for those meals. I usually try to make pretty simple meals, or look up substitutes for ingredients I don’t already have (such as for chicken broth or buttermilk). After I’ve written out the ingredients needed for the dinners I’m going to make for the week, I list some (mostly) healthier snack foods that we can have for the week, like veggie chips, apples, cereal, packets of tuna, etc. There are so many things you can do to plan ahead, and these are just a few of the ways I prepare for my weekly grocery shopping ahead of time!
- Compare prices! I shop at Walmart, because it is the most cost efficient for us. We get the sale ads for all of the local grocery stores once a week in the mail, and I go through and circle the items on sale that I am going to need for the week. When it’s time to go grocery shopping, I bring the ads and put the sale items in the front of my cart, so I don’t forget to clarify which items are on sale when I’m checking out. I also use Walmart’s Savings Catcher app. (on my phone) at the end of each grocery shopping trip to catch any sale I may have missed and be able to credit the difference toward my next trip to the grocery store!
- Use a calculator! I always use the calculator on my phone and add up every item I put in my cart. If I go over $60, I put something back. I choose the least necessary item and simply choose to put it back on the shelf. Using a calculator keeps you accountable and helps you realize exactly how much you’re spending.
- Buy fresh fruits and vegetables that are in season! When fruits and vegetables aren’t in season, I buy them either canned or frozen. When I buy fruits canned, I make sure they are in light syrup, and when I buy canned vegetables, I make sure they are low sodium (to try to keep them as healthy as possible).
- Don’t shop hungry! I always make sure to eat before I go grocery shopping to avoid buying anything unnecessary.
- I typically don’t buy processed, pre-made sweets; instead, I make cookies or some other treat at the beginning of the week that lasts us for the rest of the week whenever we have a sweet tooth (which I have daily!). Baking my own desserts not only saves money, but is healthier, as well!
- Buy off brand when you can! There are some foods I buy name brand, when there is a significant quality and/or taste difference; however, I buy off brand/store brand for most foods, such as cheese and some cereals.
- Try not to buy excess, and when you do, freeze the items if possible! When buying bread for two, for instance, it seems to go bad before we even get close to eating it all. Instead of throwing away the extra bread, bagels, etc. that are going bad, I put them in the freezer when they reach their “sell by” date and thaw them out whenever we’re ready to eat them.
These are just a few tips and tricks I use when grocery shopping on a budget! I hope you find some of them helpful! Feel free to comment with any other tips you have. 🙂
Always and forever,