In the past few weeks, I have been trying really hard to live within a budget for our groceries.
OK, you caught me. I’m working on budgeting for my Starbucks too.
The honest truth is that while I love budgets and numbers, I’m horrible at actually creating one. You see our income is completely variable. That’s what happens when you have two businesses under one roof.
Sure I can list off all the expenses we have every month and know approximately how much we need, but how do you plan ahead for things such as school supplies, clothing, vacations, etc? That’s where it gets frustrating for me.
But let’s not run down that rabbit hole right now.
So I’m taking baby steps and starting with one thing at a time just like I coach my clients. I decided to set a dollar amount each week that would be used for groceries. Groceries for me means everything including toiletries, cleaning supplies and so forth. I mean do we really need to have a separate line item for household supplies?? Keep it simple people!
Every week I set out with my budgeted amount in cold, hard cash (this helps you actually stick to your limit) and buy our groceries for the week. I stick to shopping once per week because life is busy and I refuse to make multiple trips out in this heat.
Sticking with a certain dollar amount isn’t always easy, but I’ve picked up a few tips that don’t require hours of cutting coupons. Who has time for that?? Besides, coupons are mainly for not so nutritious food.
Here are my best suggestions for stretching your grocery budget so you don't just throw money out the window:
Plan and prep meals ahead of time.
I just recently wrote a blog about easy meal planning. This is definitely the first place to start when it comes to sticking within your budget.
Buy seasonal produce or opt for frozen.
Buying seasonal produce will cost less because there is more of it. It’s easily obtainable. But if you have a hankering for something not seasonal, then opt for frozen and stock up when there is sale.
Don’t buy drinks.
Seriously, water is essentially free from our house. Don’t waste valuable dollars on bottled water. Avoiding soda and other flavored drinks saves you empty calories and as a bonus, you end up drinking more water which keeps your body hydrated. WIN WIN
Avoid pre-packaged convenience foods.
I’m definitely all about convenience but if you’re watching your dollars, you may need to trade time for dollars. Instead of buying a pre cooked whole chicken, buy it raw and throw it in the crockpot to cook.
This is a balancing act as you don’t want to buy things that you’ll end up throwing away because they go bad before you use them but you also don’t want to spend too much extra on pre cooked/pre cut things.
Do what works for you and your budget/time but this is an area to look at.
Buy items in bulk.
Where are my Costco fans at? I love Costco but it can be a wallet vacuum if you’re not careful. Avoid buying things in bulk IF you won’t use them before they expire. That’s throwing money straight into the garbage. You might as well just toss your wallet in there now.
Please tell me you didn't actually throw your wallet in the garbage just now.
Do buy staple items here such as dry goods, frozen veggies, meat if you cook in bulk or plan to freeze it, etc. Of course, always compare prices to grocery store specials. Sometimes the grocery stores can be cheaper per pound/ounce if it’s on sale that week.
Buy cheaper protein sources.
Opt for things like chicken thighs over chicken breasts. They actually have a better flavor due to higher fat content.
Eggs are a life saver for the budget conscious. They can be stretched in so many ways. And who doesn’t like breakfast for dinner?
Some protein powders are cheaper per serving than meat. Be sure to compare prices but this is definitely a viable option if time is more valuable. A protein shake will beat a meal out dollar for dollar.
Buy store/generic/off brand foods.
Name brands are a ripoff. You are paying for their name to appear on the packaging. Save yourself some dollars and opt for store brand or generic. Do they even sell generic any more? You know the old black and white label stuff? I’m probably dating myself here. More often than not the store brand is the exact same as the name brand.
The big takeaway: Find a budget and system that works best for you and your household. You can save all the money in the world but if you can’t stick to it or it’s adding stress to your life, then it won’t work long term.
Consistency > Perfection - It's the foundation of my coaching. If you feel you need expert advice on how to create new eating habits and work on your mindset, check out my Online Coaching packages.
I am a wife, mom, grandma & former professional “diet and exercise hopper" who understands the challenges of being 40lb overweight after having children & the damage repeated sense of failure can cause to your confidence and self-esteem.