How To Set A Grocery Budget Amount For Your Family. Go to my YouTube channel for more information on meal planning and household budgeting.
This post is about how to decide on a grocery budget. This is not a one size fits all type of question as different families will have different needs. Location has a major bearing on what groceries will cost for you. In the current climate, availability and cost will also impact readers quite differently. Setting a grocery budget is not all about cutting back. It is also about learning what you value and what you do want to spend money on. However, Lets take a look at these 6 tips to help you to set up a grocery budget.
Keep All Grocery Receipts For One Month
For one month, ask for a physical receipt every time you pay for groceries. Allocate a place where you will keep all of your grocery receipts so that you don’t loose any. I use an envelope that I keep in my filing cabinet. To get an accurate account of what you are currently spending, it is important to do this step really well. To know how to set a grocery budget you must first find out what it is you are currently spending. You may think you know but I can guarantee you, if you are not tracking your grocery receipts, you don’t know!
This is what you should do with those receipts after a month:
- Group your receipts by store
- Calculate how much you spent in each store
- Calculate how much you spent over all for the month
- Colour code and categorise your grocery items into groups ( dairy, carbs, fresh fruit and veg, etc)
- If you have any non grocery items on your receipts categorise those as one category, ‘non-grocery items’
Observe Your Food Waste For A Month
During the same month, observe how much food is wasted in your household. If you have a food waste bin, take note of how full it is each week. Are you throwing away packets of food that have expired before you even got the chance to open it? Are plates fairly empty after meals or is food going to the bin after every meal? Keep a record of your food waste by jotting down what goes in your food waste bin each evening. That food equates to money spent and if that food is going in a food waste bin then it equates to money being thrown in the bin.
Track Your Eating Out Expenditure
The final thing you should track while you are deciding on a grocery budget number is how much do you and your family spend on eating out. Are you spending money on:
- Hot drinks
- Work/school canteen
- Drive through lunch’s/ dinners
- Sunday dinner in the pub
- Weekend takeaways
- Tea and cake dates with your friends
All of these things are lovely to add into a balanced budget and should be enjoyed to the fullest. However, if you would like to create a realistic grocery budget you need to know what you are spending on all of your food expenditure, whether it is grocery’s or eating out.
Calculate how much you spend on eating and drinking out. Consider that number adjacent to your grocery expenditure number from the last month. I recommend cutting back on eating out as much as possible. Plan a takeaway meal once a week and budget for it. Don’t go over board on cutting your grocery bill but rather target exactly what you will buy so that you can mitigate the need to eat out all the time. With this in mind the next step is about getting organised.
Create A Grocery Master List ( An Inventory)
Under heading such as
Fresh fruit and vegetables
Dried carbs and bread
Snacks, sweets and desserts
Crackers and biscuits
Oils and vinegars
Group your foods under these headings to create a master list of what you buy and use regularly. Take this as an opportunity to cut out any food that you have been buying but not been using. The master list should include all the things you buy throughout the year. Make note of where you will buy that item. This is huge time saver and money saver. You wont spend all day writing a grocery list, shopping without any aim and coming home with a boot full of food and no clue what you will eat, day in day out. That is an exhausting pattern.
Price your master list using your receipts. Throughout the year do a price check on your grocery master list to keep it up to date, especially in this current economic climate.
Decide On The Actions You Will Take To Cut Spending
Balance cutting back on your grocery budget by doing this:
- Decide on a list of non-negotiable branded items that you must have ( branded tea bags and ketchup)
- Commit to buying own brand on a set list of groceries ( dried pasta, bottled water)
- Replace store bought food with home made versions ( made your own pasta sauce)
If you want to reduce what you spend on groceries buy a mix of own brand and popular branded items. Own brands are often a good substitution for bigger brands. Your family however, will have some branded foods they prefer and that is ok. If you try to cut back severely in one month it will be too hard to maintain for the longer term.
Now that you know:
- what you have been buying
- how much you have been spending
- what brands you value
- what own brand items you are happy to swap to
- and how much food you were wasting
- How much you spend on eating out
- how often you eat out
Using the calculations you have made with your grocery receipts, your eating out receipts and your food waste calculation, you can now make an informed decision. Set a budget amount that you think would meet all of yours and your family’s needs from week to week. Test the budget for 2 weeks and see if you are sticking to it. Adjust it if you need to over the coming months. You may need to spend more or you may find yourself cutting back so much that you are saving some money. You will find a budget number that works well for you by dong this each month.
I hope you enjoyed…