10 Easy Ways to Stay Within Your Grocery Budget

For our family, staying within our grocery budget each month is the absolute hardest of all the budget categories. It seems like every time we go just a little bit over. Is it that way for you too? Please welcome Ashlee Bradshaw of Live Essentially as she hares her top 10 easy tips for staying within your grocery budget. Before you begin reading I must warn you that this is not going to be an article advising you to start extreme couponing or shop at five different groceries stores to get the best deals. Let’s be honest, who has time for that? I’ve seen those extreme couponing shows and those women (and men) devote their lives to couponing. And bouncing around from store to store is not how I want to invest my spare time. So I present you with real, practical tips that can be done with little effort.

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Do you have a grocery budget? If you don’t, then you should, for the sake of your health and your wallet. Budgeting gives us structure and meaning, a purpose for our money, if you will. Controlling how much and where it goes will make you more aware of the things that you need and less concerned with the things that you want.

What is a grocery budget?

A grocery budget is an allotted amount of money to spend on groceries every week or month (depending on how you do your finances and shopping). This budget is set to eliminate frivolous spending and ultimately help save you money. Who doesn’t love the sound of that?

Why should I make a budget?

Making a grocery budget gives you control of your finances, by deciding where and what it is being spent on, thus making you and your family more financially stable. A grocery budget will also help eliminate buying any of those less-than-healthy foods that we are all guilty of throwing in our cart on impulse. This will make you appreciate the healthy choices and create better eating habits by buying real food and eating less junk.

How can I save money?

Making a grocery budget is one thing, but staying within that grocery budget is an entirely different story. It can be a real challenge for some people, including myself.  I have put together a few tips and tricks to help you stay under your grocery budget. I personally use each and every one of these tips and successfully feed my family of four on $100/week. This may seem impossible to some of you, but take my word for it, it can be done. If I can do it, you can do it!
1)      Skip the snacks- Try focusing on eating nutrient dense meals as opposed to a quick snack or meaningless meal. If you are feeding your body the foods it needs, they will hold you over a lot longer than empty calorie meals that are solely for filling your belly. You want to give your body nutrients to process and store accordingly.
2)      Meal plan- Planning your meals for the week will reduce your trips to the store and buying unnecessary items. Once you know exactly what you are going to be making and what you need to make it, you will save time in the store and money on food you don’t need.
3)      Look for sales– Check out the weekly ads while you are making out your meal plans, to know what is on sale and incorporate those items into your meals. Once you get to the store take time to look over the prices of different brands and quantities to ensure that you get the best deal.
4)      Use ingredients you already have handy- Go through your cabinets and take inventory of the ingredients you already have and base your weekly meals off of that. If you have an abundance of pasta shells, try incorporating that into your dinner for the next few days.
5)      Know what you use– When you are aware of what you use frequently, you can start to memorize the prices and calculate them into your budget before you even get to the store.
6)      Cook from scratch– You will save money by avoiding prepackaged, processed foods. Additionally when you cook from scratch you are eliminating those unhealthy additives.
7)      Eat/freeze leftovers- I recommend making double or even triple of a recipe so that you can eat the leftovers later, freeze the leftovers for future meals, or both.
8)      Buy in bulk– always try to stock up on foods when you can, especially if they are on sale. If you won’t be eating them right away you can always freeze them for a later date.
9)      Wholesale/co-op memberships- Places like Costco or Sam’s Club that offer memberships and wholesale discounts are becoming more and more popular, especially with their increase of organic inventory. These are a great way to buy in bulk AND get a great discount.
10)   Shop farmer’s markets/local vendors- This is especially important if you are a real food, foodie, like myself. Organic produce can get a bit pricey at large super markets, so you can save a few bucks by shopping at farmer’s markets or finding local vendors that use organic practices on their crops. I call this cutting out the middle man. J
I have also found that doing these things reduce the time that I am actually in the grocery store (which I am not complaining about). When you have a meal plan and a grocery list to reference as you shop you know exactly what you’re looking for and spend less time pacing up and down the aisles.
I hope that you find these frugal tips helpful. Once you begin practicing them on a regular basis, they become second nature and you will be saving money in no time. You can get a free weekly meal planner by subscribing to my newsletter at LiveEssentially.com. Happy savings!
Ashlee Bradshaw is a wife and a mother who is an advocate of natural living. She is passionate about all things green and crunchy. Check out her blog at LiveEssentially.com for natural living and parenting tips, DIY ideas, natural remedies, and yummy recipes.

shannon Clark, LIFE & FINANCIAL Coach

As a mom, I know what it's like to feel exhausted, overwhelmed by life, and inadequate to meet my children's needs. But I also know you don't have to stay there.

As an author and coach, I've had the joy of encouraging more than 9.1 million moms to find forward motion with their faith, family, and finances — without the frenzy.

Will you be next?