November 20, 2017

Budgeting for Food


This is a GREAT place to start in budgeting for food. Cut your grocery budget in half without coupons!

For most people, the quickest way to see a tangible difference in their pocket book is by examining personal food expenditures, and attacking that aspect immediately.

Why food?

Because unlike other fixed income expenses that are consistent every month, such as a mortgage or insurance bill, monthly food bills can vary widely within each household. One month you may be holding strong at $300 for the month, and then the next month, it’s $500, but you can’t figure out from where the increase came.

As painful as it is, the most important tool in lowering your grocery budget is by tracking your expenses for at least one month. (Groan…feel free, I feel your pain.) The necessity behind this horrible task is so that you can see where all those missing fives and twenties are disappearing (and they do disappear, don’t they?). You can then take an honest look at how you’re doing in the food department. Now remember, keep all those receipts, and get the other family members on board with you. Recently, we’ve had a chit chat with our teen sons about the additional beverages being purchased when they fill up the car with gas, not to mention the fast food wrappers hidden between the seats. That’s all part of it and that adds up quicker than one realizes. Those kind of purchases completely kill my grocery shopping on a budget.

I am going to continue tackling this topic in more detail, since it’s so necessary. I am slowly working on some great printable PDF files to help us in the planning process, but sometimes it’s a reminder of the little tips that make a difference.

Here are some of my top money saving grocery tips that I have touched on in past posts:

  1. Examine the unit price before you buy (bigger is not always better or cheaper).
  2. Keep a price book for the items you use most often, and include the unit prices (PDF will be coming).
  3. Be observant and look for hidden deals (hint: colored stickers, and this trip was the BEST!)
  4. Cook from scratch as much as you possibly can. This one we know, but difficult to always implement.
  5. Easiest to implement: Plan your shopping trip and menu/meal plan AFTER you see what’s on sale for the week
  6. Combine coupons with sales (and only for items you will use, but if they’re free, just donate them.)
  7. Stockpile when the price is right
  8. Look for unadvertised sales (and know when your stores markdown meats, dairy and bakery items (ah….Krispy Kreme)
  9. Don’t waste anything; get creative
  10. Eat from your pantry – you’ll be amazed what is hiding down deep.

Some of you have your food budget under control, and I’d love for my readers to glean some wisdom from you. Let’s see if we can get to the top fifty money saving tips. πŸ™‚ And if some of you have questions, these Tasty Tuesday ladies are a wealth of information, so ask away.

(If reading this by email or reader, you’ll need to click over to my blog to see the 100+ recipes offered.)

A few simple requests when linking up to Tasty Tuesday Parade of Foods – please link directly to your recipe post and not your home URL, as well as leaving a direct link to my blog in your recipe post so that everyone can join in the fun. πŸ™‚


  1. I recently started keeping a price list, and that was incredibly eye opening. This is a great list of tips, thanks! πŸ™‚


  2. Great tips! Also, don’t shop when hungry, and it may be easier to shop without the kids unless you are showing them how to shop or you might end up buying more than you planned.


  3. Planning a weekly menu is a great way to keep your grocery budget under control.Always check your pantry first for the ingredients you need for the week. Then, when you go to the store, you are only buying what you need.


  4. 95% of what I buy at every grocery trip is on sale. I stock up using the sale ads. I’ve had people look at my pantry in the basement and call it grocery store! Another tip – especially for this season – is gleaning. As you’re driving around notice the fruit trees that are full but unpicked. If you’re brave enough – ring the doorbell and ask very politely if it would possible for you to pick their fruit for them in exchange for some of it. We have been able to bless several elderly couples this way. Their apples got picked, they got the few they wanted, and we had enough to eat and put up for winter. It was a win-win.


  5. Just when I think I have my grocery budget out of control, I stray. The best way for me to stay within a budget is to plan our menu and make a list around the sale flyer.

    Thanks for the carnival.


  6. I always read about how you can save hundreds of dollars if you just use coupons but I can’t bring myself to take the time to organize them and figure out which ones are really good deals. And I don’t want to be the hated coupon lady. haha! I love your other ideas, eating from the pantry is what we try to do. It is so fun to figure out meals with stuff you already have!


  7. I shop every other week for 2 weeks of meal plans at Aldi. I usuallly stop in for produce or milk, etc. on the off week, but have found that this is a great way to save money. I limit my stockpiling to $25/week at Giant Eagle where they have great sales and double coupons (EXCEPT when they have their BOGO meat sale and then I stock up for 4-6months of roasts and pork chops). I avoid buying anything else here because it is so much more than the price of Aldi. My stockpiling philosophy is: Is it Cheaper than Aldi’s??


  8. My tip is not to be seduced into buying lots of buy one get one free or buy two get one free offers unless it is something you will definitely use – particularly in the case of dry or canned goods. I am really careful to ask myself if I really need the product and if so how much do I really need. Buying lots on sale isn’t a bargain if you end up throwing the food away!

    Thanks for hosting Tasty Tuesday!


  9. I love the eat from your pantry part. This is an easy place to get creative sometimes.


  10. Great savings ideas. The biggest way I try to save is by cooking at home and not using a lot of convenience foods. I do use some, but they tend to cost more than “ingredients”. Thanks for hosting the link up!


  11. Thanks for hosting Tasty Tuesdays!

    Here’s my shopping tip that is both cheaper and healthier:

    Shop the perimeter of the store first. Most of the items you need are on the perimeter – produce, dairy, meats. Then shop the insides for items to use with what’s in your cart.

    Since your cart is fuller of necessary items before you head into the aisles of doom, you will be less likely to impulse buy whatever they are marketing that week.


  12. You have inspired me to get back to my coupons. I got out of the habit when our son was born. But I know the savings are there. I started this month tracking our money to see where it goes, from Dave Ramsey’s Monthly Cash Flow. It is amazing the dollars that are wasted!


  13. Don’t go to the store hungry! If your stomach is growling while you’re perusing the aisle, you’re more likely to grab what looks good and stray from your list.

    Thanks for the link-up!


  14. I don’t think I have anything new to add amongst all you smart ladies… but with my mama friends, they don’t even TRY couponing or meal planning. I think that right there is a HUGE assest… at least try!!

    I can’t link up because I don’t have any pics, but my favorite frugal thing to make is French Toast Casserole. Over a few weeks I save the butts of bread loaves, the lone remaining hotdog or hamburger bun or even bagel. I put them in the freezer and about once a month I have enough to make the casserole. The rest of the recipe is from scratch items, so it’s minimal cost!


    B&PSmommy Reply:

    Could you share the rest of the recipe, it sounds good and I’d love a recipe to use up all my wasted heels & buns! Thanks!


  15. Michelle K says:

    I have to make a list or else I end up with WAY more in my basket than I had planned. I also only spend cash. With the debit card it was way TOO easy to go over my budget.


  16. Thanks for the great tips and reminders. Food is always where I over spend. I love to eat, but have been trying to write down every penny when I go to the grocery store so I can have an idea of how much I spend each week and try and make adjustments.


  17. I cook from scratch as much as possible. Not only do I save money but I eat much healthier meals.


  18. Always looking for new ways to trim the budget (and the waistline!). Thanks for hosting today.

    e-Mom @ Susannah’s {Kitchen}


  19. The best way I found to lower my grocery bill was to buy only the items I needed for one week. I made my menu based on my freezer/fridge/pantry and then bought just enough to get us through one week. This meant NOT stocking the pantry until I knew how much money we actually needed per week. I was surprised that I could spend $60 per week for our family of four (I started at $100 per week). Over time I started stocking the pantry again spending $20 for “needs” and $40 to stock up on sale items.

    We eat much differently now since we’re not eating grains very often and we’re trying to support local farmers and ranches. Our budget is $400 per month and I still have to record what I spend or I’ll spend too much money.

    Always bring cash to the store instead of a debit or credit card – I swore it wouldn’t make a difference and it does. On your list write down if the item you are buying is a need or a want. Often times that is very eye opening!

    In our area, coupons are a waste of time so I don’t spend my time on those, but I do spend a lot of time making homemade food.

    Find one area that you can improve – don’t try to change everything at once or you’ll get overwhelmed.


  20. Tiffany is right, convenience foods can tear up your whole budget. πŸ™ My boys love ready-made – pizzas, sandwiches, those awful Pizza Rolls that are mostly made of preservatives… If I take a little time on the weekends, I can get things made up for later in the week that aren’t too bad for them, but it’s taking the time that’s rough. With homework, sports, family, church, etc. it’s tough to fit in a day’s worth of cooking as well.

    I’m making it a priority for the holidays to make more time for us at home – saying NO to more invitations, cutting down sports involvement, and still trying to get enough sleep for us all that we’re a happy bunch. πŸ™‚

    Good luck everyone on cutting expenses! It has helped me just to be mindful – not tracking every month, but once in a while I keep all my month’s receipts and see how I’m doing. It’s a wake-up call!!!


  21. Great tips! Thanks for the linky!

    Linda @ Linda’s Lunacy


  22. My #1 tip is to use CASH only!! I know that freaks some people out, but if you know that you only have the cash in your hand to spend, then you might reconsider that bag of chips, right? I break up my grocery budget into 4 weeks worth of cash envelopes. When I run out of money for the week, then it is time to stop spending. Totally easy! Link to my cash envelope template:


  23. Another great post, great tips, and I agree about the teens! My food bill has gone down drastically now that one is off to college. (Date night! :))


  24. I agree about the buying drinks while you are out ruining the budget! That is what kills mine. I am going to start keeping bottles of water or tea in a cooler in our car. That has to help! Thanks for the great tips!


  25. Make a shopping list and stick to it! If you make a pact to not buy anything on the list, you will save yourself from those impromptu buys.

    Plan your menu well enough that you only need to go to the store once a week. Avoid those quick trips to the store. If you forgot it, make do without. Sounds crazy, I know, but you will be surprised how inventive you can get when you forget ingredients and learn to do without them. It makes you a better cook in the long run!

    Exercise portion control. If a recipe is supposed to serve 6, we make it serve 6. Seconds are only allowed on veggies and bread. This saves us money and keeps us thin.

    Avoid stocking the pantry with things that will just expire or with items that you don’t have a plan for. We keep supplies for one or two emergency meals, but that’s it. It saves shelf space and keeps us buying only what we plan on eating.


  26. So glad I found your website! I’ve been trying to coupon and I still seem to be spending too much $$ on food. It doesn’t help that my husband eats lunch out EVERYDAY when he could take a lunch most days.


  27. Tip 1. Shop less often. We did the “eat from the pantry” thing to last a month before doing a proper shop. Ever since then we have been doing once a month groceries (we buy perishables at other places). That’s ONE opportunity for impulse “treats” instead of two, or four, or 30, depending how often you currently shop.

    Tip 2. Develop food reactions so you have no choice but to make EVERYthing yourself. Eat out? What’s that? πŸ˜‰


  28. I have not been watching my grocery much for the past 2 years. Hubby and I both worked high paying jobs (and I was working 80+ houors a week!) so we bought whatever we wanted, which oncluded eating out a lot too. Now since I am no longer working I am trying to get back into to hang of watching prices and actually cooking again! I see here I have a whole lot of recipes to give a try!


  29. Hubby and I started keeping all of our reciepts last month so we can see generally how much money goes where. It’s really eye-opening to see how much is ACTUALLY spent on what. He jokes to friends that we spend less on food now than he did before we were married. I take it as a compliment. (Thanks Mom, for teaching me the ways of coupons and sales!)


  30. After our daughter was born we ran into a very unexpected expense when she became allergic to the formula brand she was on. She needed a specific type that ended up being twice as expensive. Our grocery bill shot up an extra $300 a month…ouch! I happened to find a mom on Craigslist in my area who was selling her child’s unused lot of the same foumula. Of course each can was inspected for safety and expiration, but we bought them all at a savings of almost 70% off the store price per can. That’s a HUGE difference that made the cost more manageable. Now we have enough to last the remaining few months she will be on it. So I would say to look for deals in unexpected places πŸ™‚


  31. I’m a couple days late to this party, but I have to say I don’t understand stockpiling. It seems you have to use whatever brand, or whatever stuff, is on sale. I’d rather just save my coupons for my favorite (Charmin’ Ultra Strong…mmm…) brands and wait until they go on a good sale and get them cheap.

    Then again I’m single. I think a lot of this stuff makes much less sense when you’re single. πŸ™‚ I’m with the ‘meal plan for the week, shop once, and only get what you need for the week’ people.



    Jens Reply:

    Lol….yes, things were much different with my shopping when I was single, although your comment about stockpiling your Charmin is exactly my recommendation. If you are brand specific with an item, then definitely hold on to your coupon, wait for it to go on sale, and then buy a bunch to last you (if you have room to store) till it goes on sale again. You’d be “stockpiling” and didn’t even know it. πŸ™‚


    Anna B Reply:

    @Jens, LOL! That requires me to have multiple coupons, which I rarely do. I usually buy just 1 Sunday paper. The ladies who are serious about this couponing thing tell me they get coupons from their relatives who take the paper(hmm… none of that for me) and also go to McD’s on weekend mornings scouting for left-behind coupons, and rummage through newspaper recycle bins.

    That stuff sounds a little… intense… to me. But, to be honest, buying a pack of 12 double rolls of Charmin on sale is almost like stockpiling, since a single 29 year old doesn’t use that much. LOL!

    What I’d like to learn is the Walgreens magic everyone talks about, but that also seems to involve having tons of the same coupons. On things I don’t care about brand, like toothpaste, I’d love to get the free stuff everyone talks about. πŸ™‚


    ani Reply:

    @Anna B, You can find many printable coupons online, now, so you CAN have multiple coupons. If you have one from the paper and even just one printed, that will get you a small stockpile. Sometimes, you can print more than one, and even with coupons in the paper, sometimes there is more than one for the same product, just a slightly different deal. It’s quite a little game πŸ™‚

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