He who does not economize will have to agonize.”

~ Confucius



Why Create A Grocery Budget?

The best way to begin your adventure into meal planning is to begin with a strong foundation by creating a reasonable food budget.  Making a weekly or monthly grocery budget for menu planning is the best way to know if you’re meal plan is working, if you’re saving money and if you’re on the right track.  A grocery budget gives you a workable plan, targeted spending limits, a goal; it provides you with boundaries and pushes you to find ways to live, sometimes creatively, within those boundaries.



Step #1: Average Your Monthly Food CostsMan Creating A Grocery Budget

Start by gathering all the receipts you can find from the last month or two and place them in a pile.  You will use them to track how much money you’ve spent on food at the grocery store, eating out, and those quick trips to McDonald’s, Seven-Eleven and so forth for this time-frame.  You might be surprised by your monthly spending, the cost of groceries and eating out, if so don’t panic the fix is coming.  Once you’ve collected your receipts grab your checkbook too; now add up the receipts and checks or credit cards (if you’re missing receipts) to get an idea of what you spent for food and other grocery items.  Divide the total dollar amount by the number of weeks that you found to get a weekly average.  You will use the weekly average to set your initial grocery budget.  Don’t worry this number will change as you get a feel for working within boundaries, but for now it will give you a place to start and a concrete dollar amount for your grocery budget.  From here on out you will need to save all receipts, including these,  for future reference, so find something to store them in; an envelope, a bag, or a file, just use something to keep them all in one place.

Your budget should be reviewed and tweaked on a monthly basis.



Step #2: Make Your Grocery Budget Doable

Try to be realistic when planning your working grocery budget, make it achievable.  Don’t set your grocery budget at $50.00 a week when you’ve been spending $250.00 a week.  This is not a competition; you are making a substantial lifestyle change so be kind to yourself and make the transition with small changes as you go.  Begin modestly by lowering your grocery budget 10% from what you’ve been spending.  Gradually as you gain experience you can shave another 10% off then another and another making a big difference over time.


As you are getting comfortable with your grocery budget there may be times you feel overwhelmed or frustrated because you screwed up and spent more than you planned or overpaid for an item, it’s okay, it happens to the best of us.  Step back, breathe and remind yourself you are in control, it’s a grocery budget for goodness sake not the end of the world.  As Scarlett O’Hara said from the movie Gone with the Wind –“Tomorrow is another day!”



***  In 2008 the Department of Labor estimated a family of four spends $709 a month on groceries. Adding a 4% annual increase this gives an estimate of $797.52 per month or $184.04 per week.  The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates about 12.5 percent of the average family’s spending goes toward food, while the Department of Agriculture puts the figure at 9.8 percent.


How to Create a Grocery Budget

Want to Curb Your Spending ?

You will need:

  • A List of Items You Currently Use
  • Compare Prices between Several Stores
  • Buy Store Brands whenever possible
  • Use coupons and catch sales
  • Plan a week’s worth of meals
  • List all ingredients
  • Storage Space

Plant A Kitchen Garden

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