Trimming back the grocery budget is one of the most daunting tasks a person can embark on. Here are some tips that my family uses to keep those all-important numbers as low as they can be.
1. Shop once a week
One of the quickest ways to reduce the grocery budget for me is to reduce that amount of time I am in the store. Most weeks we only shop one time for groceries. We do not head out for things that we have forgotten. We mostly use what we have on hand, the only things that I will go to the store for is toilet paper and I can’t think of anything else. I guess just toilet paper then?
2. Learn to substitute ingredients
When I first got together with my husband, I was flabbergasted to realize that some people accumulated every single item for a recipe before they made it. In the house I grew up in we would use a recipe as more of a guideline than a strict rule that must be followed. Learning to substitute is a fine art that can only be learned by doing. Pinterest also has many options for substitutions, like did you know you can substitute applesauce for eggs in baking? I pinned a bunch of substitution ideas to my savings money board if anyone is interested.
3. Pay for grocery pick-up
It seems counterintuitive that you would save money paying for someone else to shop for you, but it works. I did not realize how many things I would impulsively buy while I shopped. Now I only buy the things on my list, it’s crazy when I set a grocery budget number and I hit it!
4. Have a grocery list template
I have an excel spreadsheet that I’ve turned into a grocery list that I print out and use every time we grocery shop. If you don’t have a printer, you could use the notes app on your phone, there are list apps and other options that I don’t even know about. Having a list allows you to focus on what you need and reduced needless grocery store wandering that leads to impulse buying. Even when it comes to online shopping I try and get in and get out.
5. Do a no-grocery week
Sarah at Yes and Yes Blog advocates for eating up all your weird leftover food in your refrigerator, freezer, and pantry with a no-grocery challenge. And I like it. It is a great way to cut down on your food budget and is weirdly fun. I’m going to do an upcoming post on how we implement this idea in our home as part of a no-spend week and you can read up on it in the link below.
6. Buy quick and versatile food
I buy some amount of food that is good for multiple meals, that are easy to use. Canned beans, corn tortillas, granola bars, and frozen broccoli are some of our staples that I always try and have on hand. There are endless options but the main thing is that it is available when you are hungry and you need quick food and that you like it. If you are hungry all the time and don’t have enough food or food you like, you will be less likely to keep on doing this grocery budgeting thing.
7. Be realistic about what you will eat
In general, my family doesn’t eat fancy food. For one we have allergies up the wazoo so the number of foods that we can eat is limited already. And I for one don’t really enjoy cooking complex meals at the end of a day. If you want to try something new, buy a small amount of it and see if you will eat it. If you’re new to eating spinach maybe the family-sized container of it is not the place to start. Only buy food that you know you will eat in large quantities.
8. Don’t assume what the cheapest option is
A big pack of something is only a good deal if you will use all of the food. When we were having money troubles I knew that those big packs actually ended up costing quite a bit more than the most basic version of the food at my local grocery store. It is important to remember that having a lot of food, that you bought at a reduced price, that no one will eat is not saving anyone money.
9. Change your grocery budget often
I advocate for messing with your budget period. I think you should make it smaller, so small that you don’t know if you’ll have enough food. Make it bigger. Changing your grocery budget will allow you to find out things about your eating habits and how your brain responds to things. Knowing more about how you prefer to buy groceries and food in general leads to more informed decisions down the line. I’ll tell you when the quarantine first started I didn’t even try to budget our food. But now I’m back at it. For awhile I was using a spreadsheet on my phone to track our discretionary funds but now I’m back to paper. Trying to force yourself to use a system that no longer works for you will benefit no one.
10. Don’t be too hard on yourself
Sometimes, when we’re trying to abide by a budget, we fail and the impulse is to just give up. To think, that you’re “bad with money.” If you expect a certain amount of failure, then when it happens we just keep moving. You look at it and then see what went wrong and make adjustments. Learning to budget and save money is a life long journey. Some days are going to be better than others. Failure is normal, you just have to keep working at it.
You can see more information like this about reducing your clothing budget at http://goalplexity.com/10-ways-to-conquer-your-clothing-budget/
Always be nice to yourself. Learning to be intentional with money is a skill. If you fail, see what worked for you and what did not work for you and try again.
LeAnn Lucas has spent years thinking and learning about money. She did tax returns and bookkeeping for 15 plus years. When she finally finished her BA in Accounting (with a minor in Psychology) she decided to become a Personal Finance Coach.
You can learn more about me here: http://goalplexity.com/about-me/
You can contact me here for one-on-one coaching: email@example.com or on Instagram @goalplexity.
Goalplexity LLC provides general educational information on various topics on this website as a public service, which should not be construed as professional, financial, real estate, tax, or legal advice. These are my personal opinions only. This post may contain affiliate links, which means that we’ll receive a commission if you purchase through my link, at no extra cost to you. Please read the full disclosure here.