3 Easy Grocery Budget Strategies
With summer winding down, I have decided to get back to a more organized menu plan each week. During the summer, we have more people in the house with visits from family and friends and lots of play dates. And of course the kids need a snack every two seconds when they are playing outside, or at least they would have you believe. Our grocery budget has been a bit out of whack for the past few months. Truthfully, grocery budgeting is an area where I struggle. I often buy more than we need in a week. Impulse buys get me too often. And I cannot even get started on those big stores that carry craft items, clothes, shoes, etc. Craft items get me every time!! Yikes!!!! By the end of the week, we lose food to waste or I have the freezer full of miscellaneous stuff in odd amounts. This brings on the guilt about not being a better steward of our finances. So, I developed a better strategy.
- Created a spreadsheet of all of the groceries I buy regularly and their costs
- Created a Menu board for the kitchen counter
- Set a strict dollar limit per week for groceries
Grocery Cost Spreadsheet
This may seem extreme to some people. For me, it took about an hour and really has helped me to stay on track financially. I struggle with remembering the cost of items and where I purchased them for the best price. I typically shop at two major stores each week. So, I gathered grocery receipts for the past few weeks and created a spreadsheet. This does not have to be anything saved in the computer. A good old pen and paper list will do just fine, too. The spreadsheet was easier for me so that it would calculate my list totals.
Spreadsheet or list should include
- Items to be purchased
- Cost of that item from at least one store
- Space to calculate each week’s list.
Here is a link to the spreadsheet I created. https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1Yn6WoovWbDwde4mawbJeQ3iaNFg8dF6DXiQ6P-SoSz8/edit?usp=sharing
Simple Menu Board
Creating a menu board for our kitchen was key for me to stick to a grocery budget. Planning out a week of meals allowed me to know the amount of money I would spend. It also keeps me from running to the store mid-week for something I forgot for a dish. Our kitchen is accented with aqua, so I went with that color for the menu. I also like decor that is distressed/rustic. This was so easy to achieve.
What you need
- Picture frame (8×10 works well)
- Paint in desired color
- Craft paper/card stock in desired patter or color for background
- Letter Stickers
I shopped my house for the items needed for this project. I love it when I can do that!! I found a black plastic frame in storage. I had blue paint and found a piece of cardstock that matched it perfectly. I removed the glass and back panel from the picture frame before painting. I then put it on a piece of aluminum foil to add the paint. While the paint was wet, I used my finger and a piece of paper towel to strategically smudge the paint in places where natural wear or marks might occur. Since the frame was black, it showed through giving a rustic appearance. Once it was dry, I added the glass, card stock (cut to size) and the back panel. Then, I added the letter stickers I found in my craft bins. To save space, I used the lowercase letters in the package. All that is left is to add my menu and get shopping!
Keeping the Budget
Setting a budget amount per week is crucial for success. I review my list and the costs several times, before heading to the store, to ensure that I am staying within my budgeted amount. It is also helpful to carry your phone in the store and use the calculator to add things up as you go along. Staying on budget is not easy as we are inundated with impulse-buy items and lots of enticing choices. In the end, I feel better knowing I was a better steward of the money God has entrusted to us.