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?