Friday, March 1, 2013

Sticking to my Grocery Budget

Last week I did a post on finances and briefly touched on my grocery budget and how I stuck to it. I really don't have any magic formula for you but I thought I would still share what I did this past month and how I stayed under budget.

First things first, we made up our whole budget at the beginning of the month. Once I knew how much I had to use for groceries, I divided that number by four. I usually shop every Saturday and February only had four of them. Once I had my set weekly budget, I made up my shopping list with that in mind.

Like I said in my last post, I normally sit down Friday night or Saturday morning and make up a meal plan and grocery list. I go through all the flyers first, circling things of interest and matching up my coupons with them. Once I've done that, I write down on a piece of paper all the food that is on sale or I have a coupon for. I then add any foods that I have run out of during the week to this "master" list.

Next, I make up a meal plan. I go through my pantry, fridge and freezer to see what food I have on hand and then form my meals around them. Over February, I experimented with some different recipes and tried to stretch them by adding in beans or serving over rice. This definitely helped the budget.

Once I have a list of meals written out, I double check the recipes to see if I am missing any ingredients. If I am, they are added to my "master" list. When I'm at this point, I'm ready to make my official shopping list.

I use this free printable shopping list from the blog Money Saving Mom. I LOVE it and recommend it to everyone. It's so well set up with the separate sections for the food item, cost and if there's a coupon. Plus, I love checking things off. But I think my favourite part is that you can write down what the item costs. This is the biggest help to me when trying to stay within budget.

I transfer all the items from my "master" list to my official grocery list, sorting them by where the item is in the store. For example, I start by listing the fruits and veggies I want, then I move along to meats, organics/gluten-free foods, dairy, cereal, pasta, etc. It helps me stay on track once I get into the store and not forget anything. For the items that I know their cost, I write it down immediately. For the ones I'm not sure of, I leave it blank but still take a guess. I then add everything up while I'm still at home to see if I'm under budget or if the list needs more tweaking. Once I'm satisfied with it, I then shove my flyers, shopping list, coupons and calculator into my purse. Yes, I have a big purse.

Once I'm at the store, I stick to my list and add things up as I go along. I know that I must look a little silly with my calculator, but hey, it works for me. It's nice to know how much I'm spending and it keeps me from making impulse purchases. That way, I also know when I go over and can take something out of my cart if need be.

Some weeks I spent more, some weeks I spent less. But overall, I stuck to my budget and even came in $0.16 under! And that includes my celebratory bag of chips for gaining weight. :P

So that is what I did this month and it worked for me. I plan on trying it again in March and seeing how it goes for a second month.

How do you do with your grocery budget? Do you have trouble meeting your goal each month? Any tips or tricks to share with me?


  1. Wow, you are so organized! It sounds like you have a really solid system down. I wish I were as dedicated as you are to sticking to my grocery budget, ours has been creeping up lately. I might have to start doing some of your tricks.

  2. I love the idea of using a calculator as you shop. I used to do that when I was a kid helping my mom shop, but I don't any more. Maybe that would help me have less "sticker shock" when I get done ringing everything up at Wal-Mart!
    Mrs. Lopez of

  3. Erin, I'm not always this organize, so don't be too fooled. I just decided that I was going to stick to it in February so I buckled down and worked hard! Good luck as you try to bring your budget down, it isn't easy.

  4. Mrs. Lopez, I don't know why I didn't start using a calculator sooner, it really helps. And like you said, no shocks at the checkout!

  5. Time to grab my pen & paper and take some tips. Jenn, you are awesome at budgeting. I need lessons. ;-)

  6. oops. Left a comment on the wrong post a minute ago. I admire the orderly way you go about sticking to your budget. Good job.

  7. Good on you for using a calculator. It helps and I have often used one. I see others using them too; so don't worry. Good little post; thank you. I printed out the list and will use it myself this week.

  8. LaTi, I'm glad that I've given you some tips and inspiration for your budgeting. If you ever have any more questions, you know where to reach me. :)

    Sara, thank you.

    Unknown, I'm glad to know I'm not the only one using a calculator! I've never seen anyone else use one while I've been shopping, but then again, I haven't looked too hard. I hope you enjoy using the shopping list as much as I have.

  9. Wow, you are very organized in your budgeting scheme! It doesn't look silly to me, and the fact that it works for you proves that it's not silly at all. With the economic crisis going around, it's important to keep your money tact and steer clear from debts. =)

    Jaden Allred

  10. Jaden - Thank you for the compliment! I'm starting to not really care what I look like because I'm so pleased with the results. And like you said, it's so important to stick to a budget and not spend more than you have.

  11. It is always a great idea to organize your shopping list before going to the supermarket. That way, you have a clear idea what you really need for the house, and maybe avoid grabbing stuff you don’t really need as of the moment. Myself, I try to calculate how much I need for the whole list and just bring enough plus a little extra for emergencies. That way, I don’t get the urge to buy other things that are not on the list.


  12. Allan - Lists are the best way to stick to your budget and I always make a grocery list. That being said, I do still occasionally make impulse buys, so maybe I should try your trick and only bring the amount of money that is budgeted. Thanks for taking the time to read my post and comment!