How to Make a Grocery Shopping Budget

Did you know that about 53% of Canadians are about $200 away from insolvency? Luckily, you don’t have to be part of that statistic if you have a good grocery shopping budget.

Whether you’re low-income or not, you can feed yourself and your family. It may take some planning, but you can create a usable budget.

Keep reading to learn how you can budget for groceries.

 

Prepare Yourself

The first step to making a grocery shopping budget is to prepare. If you’ve never used a grocery budget, it can be a big shift, and it can be hard to get used to.

You should prepare mentally and physically so that you can make the most of your grocery shopping budget.

Shift your thoughts so that budgeting for your grocery bill is exciting instead of stressful. That way, you can look forward to budgeting for your food.

 

Track Your Grocery Spending

Another thing you can do before you make a monthly budget for groceries is to track what you currently spend. For the next month, shop for food as normal but save all of your receipts.

Try to keep your spending as normal as you can so that you don’t affect anything. At the end of the month, add up the total of all your grocery bills.

Compare that total to your overall budget for the month and consider if you’re spending too much. Then, you can determine if you need to reduce your spending, or you can use the budget for the next month.

 

Figure Out Your Habits

As you make your grocery shopping budget, you should take a look at your spending habits.

For example, many people go to the grocery store once per week and get everything they need. However, other people may only shop for a few days at a time.

Similarly, some people may use all of the food they buy. Other people may overbuy and end up throwing food out, which can be a waste of money and food.

 

Outline Your Must-Haves

As you make a monthly budget for your grocery bill, consider what you absolutely need or want to have. For example, maybe you’re a vegetarian, so you need to buy vegetarian foods. Other examples include:

  • Organic foods
  • Fresh produce
  • Gluten-free items
  • Foods free of nuts or other allergens

Think about your dietary needs and those of your family members. If you need to spend more on gluten-free or organic items, you can then budget for those extra costs.

 

Stock Your Pantry and Fridge

You should also make a list of staple food items that you can use throughout the week or month. If you’re out of any of them, you can stock up on your next trip.

Important items to have may include bread, milk, and eggs. You can use bread to make toast or a sandwich. Milk and eggs can go in a lot of dishes, and you can make a meal with those ingredients alone.

Keeping a stock of these things can help you avoid a quick trip to the store. Then, you can make sure to keep your budget in check.

 

Make a List

Once you make your grocery shopping budget, you should make a list of what you need. You can use a list on your phone for yourself, but a paper list is great for the whole family.

When you’re ready for your next grocery trip, you can take the list so that you don’t buy too much.

If you only like shopping once per week, you may need to add items to the list before they run out. However, you can wait a bit longer if you’re able to go shopping every few days.

 

Create Categories

As you make your grocery list, you can separate the items into categories. Doing this can have a couple of benefits.

For one, it can keep you from having to make multiple trips around the store. You can go through all of your produce needs at once.

Another benefit is that you can create a budget for each category. If you know you want to only eat meat once per week, you can give it a lower budget than produce, for example.

 

Shop Around

If you have time, you may want to go to a couple of grocery stores in your area. The closest option may not always be the most affordable, and shopping around can help you find better deals.

While you may not save a ton of money each week, it can add up over a whole year. Then, you can use the extra money to save for an emergency or to buy more of what you need at the grocery store.

Whether you only shop at the most affordable store, or you go to a couple, you never know how you can save money.

 

Join a Loyalty Program

Perhaps you don’t have the time or energy to shop around at different stores. Consider if your main grocery store offers a loyalty program or rewards card.

If they do, you should enroll in the program to get access to exclusive deals and coupons. Now, that doesn’t mean you should buy everything that’s on sale.

However, it can be a great way to save money on the items you’d already buy. Then, you can lower your weekly expenses.

 

Cut Coupons

If your grocery store doesn’t have a loyalty program, they may still accept coupons. Whenever you see a coupon for something you need anyway, you should cut it out and put it with your shopping list.

Using coupons is an excellent way to reduce your spending. You don’t have to give up any items you need or want from the store.

Look for coupons in your local paper or sign up for coupons from different brands. That way, you can get the items you want while sticking to your budget.

 

Use Cash

Many people love using a debit or credit card to buy things, and you’re probably one of them. However, using a card can make things not feel as expensive as they are.

All you need to do is swipe your card, and the total bill doesn’t matter as much. If you struggle to stick to your grocery shopping budget, consider taking cash and leaving your cards at home.

With cash, you can take only what you plan to spend, so you can’t go over your budget.

 

Plan Out Your Meals

Meal planning is yet another fantastic strategy to help you make and follow a grocery shopping budget. You can plan out your meals for the next few days or the whole week.

Add the ingredients for each meal to your shopping list and take it with you to the store. Not only can a meal plan keep you on track, but it can help you enjoy your meals.

You can rotate through more recipes to keep your dinners and lunches more interesting.

 

Prepare for Leftovers

If you have a smaller monthly budget, you may want to use leftovers for lunch the following day. However, you need to consider what you’re willing to eat leftover.

Some people love leftover anything, but others may be pickier. After all, some foods may not keep very well in the fridge. Or you may not have a microwave available at work to reheat certain foods.

If you want to use foods for leftovers, consider what you’re willing to save. When you don’t want to save for leftovers, make sure you only buy enough to cover that one meal.

 

Don’t Shop Hungry

One of the easiest ways to spend more than your budget is to shop when you’re hungry. If you haven’t eaten recently, you may buy things because they look good.

However, you may not eat them, so you may waste money and food. Instead, eat at home first so that you can go to the store on a full stomach.

That way, you’ll be able to stick to your shopping list. If you can stick to your shopping list, you won’t have to worry about going over budget.

 

Budget for Treats

You may have the perfect grocery shopping budget full of healthy foods. But you don’t have to cut yourself off from buying treats, like dessert or snacks.

If you’re under budget, consider getting a small treat once or twice per month. It can be a great way to reward yourself for saving money, and it can make eating healthy foods easier throughout the month.

Or you can create a separate category of your budget for treats. At the end of a busy week or month, you can get a pint of ice cream or a bag of chips to celebrate.

 

How Will You Spend Your Grocery Shopping Budget?

Whether you have a small income source or make six figures, shopping for food is a necessity. And having a good grocery shopping budget can help you stay on track.

That way, you can get the foods you need and want. But you can also avoid wasting food or spending more money than you can afford.

Do you need help paying your grocery bill? Contact us to learn more and request a loan.