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5 Days to a Better Grocery Budget (new series!)

Note: I’d been planning this series for a few months, so I had to laugh when I had scheduled the first post for today and then saw that my friend, Laurie, from Passionate Penny Pincher just started her own series called The Ultimate Guide to a Better Grocery Budget. She does such a great job of sharing things and is so inspiring, so if you want some different ideas on how to cut your grocery budget, be sure to check out her series, too!

Are you wishing that you could find a way to get a better handle on your grocery budget? Welcome to a brand-new series I’m running here over the next week called 5 Days to a Better Grocery Budget. It’s been awhile since we’ve talked about grocery budgets and I thought it was high time for a refresher!

As we begin this series on setting up a better grocery budget, I want to start by giving you three important reminders:   

1. There is no right way to set up a grocery budget.

I think one of the big reasons people don’t create a budget in the first place is because they are worried they will “do it wrong”.

Here’s what you need to hear loud and clear: there is no right or wrong way to set up a grocery budget. All that matters is that you set one up that works for you and then stick with it.

Yes, I know, I’m sharing such amazingly, incredible stuff here today. {Insert sarcasm.}

But seriously, if you set up a grocery budget and stick with it, you have yourself a successful grocery budget. You are a success!

So stop stressing over the how of setting up a grocery budget. Stop feeling frustrated that you don’t think you’re going to do it right. Just get up and do it and follow through with it. I know you can!

2. There is no magic number that is the “perfect grocery budget amount”.

I promise. I know that you can read other blogs — or even this blog! — and feel like you need to have a grocery budget that is lower than XX amount or you are failing at the whole grocery budgeting thing.

There is no way to fail at your grocery budget except for not having a grocery budget at all. ANY grocery budget that you set up and stick with is a successful grocery budget. And ANY amount you choose that works with your income and takes care of your family’s needs and doesn’t make you miserable is a great amount.

3. There is no grocery budget competition.

Spending less or spending more doesn’t make you less or more of a success or failure. It just makes you uniquely you.

Pick a number that works for YOUR family. For YOUR own needs. For YOUR own season of life. And don’t apologize for it or feel that you need to explain it.

Trust me, I get how easy it is to do both of those things — especially if you have a frugal blog or lots of frugal friends! But this past year, I’m really stepping into the freedom that comes from being okay with doing what’s best for our own family — even if other people don’t agree, don’t approve, or don’t get it. 

So breathe a big sigh of relief. You can do this!

Tomorrow, we’ll talk about how to actually start setting up a successful grocery budget!

Related: Why We More Than Doubled Our Grocery Budget

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14 Comments

  • Laurie says:

    Sooooo funny Crystal ~ thank you so much for sharing our grocery budget series too (great minds!) 🙂

    I love your reminder that we’re not here to compete with other people’s grocery budgets ~ so so true, and so important to remember that all family’s are different.

    Thanks for sharing ~ I’m looking forward to your series too! 🙂

  • Ann says:

    Thanks for this. I have been slacking lately. And have been meal planning poorly, therefore the grocery shopping has been unorganized. Part of my problem is I haven’t been motivated to meal plan since the holidays. So I am trying Home Chef next week. Now I’m excited to see how I like it.

  • L says:

    My husband and I just sat down to go over our budget for the year. Honestly, I think most of your readers would be shocked at how much we spend on groceries. But hey, it works for us. This year we decided to keep the same amount we had last year and the year before, although prices continue to rise (although not as much due to gas prices stabilizing) and we are eating more protein. I just have 2 categories: Groceries and Household. Household is stuff I buy at Walmart, Costco, pharmacy, or Amazon. Groceries is solely the grocery store, even if I buy toothpaste there. It makes it simple. We’ve been doing the same thing for long enough now that it is easy for us to track.

    I agree with you; the most important thing is having a budget. Then you have something to gauge yourself against. I was getting lazy and not making as many meals as I usually do. I could see our Dining budget skyrocketing, and not because we were having more nice, romantic meals while on a date (totally worth the money, imho).

    Thank you for all your encouragement over the years, Crystal! By God’s grace, we are finally getting our bearings and making progress. It has taken YEARS, but now my husband and I discuss our spending (without arguing), make a plan and work toward collective goals. Ladies, don’t give up on your stubborn husbands. Last year we paid off $15,000 in loans! Whoo-hoo!

  • Jessica says:

    I have found that the past two years, there are fewer deals than there used to be. I used to be able to combine a coupon and a sale and get some things for free or nearly free. This is no longer the case. About eight years ago, I was heavily into the ‘drugstore game’, getting all sorts of things for free. Again, no longer the case. We also used to be gifted a 1/4 beef per year from my parents, but my parents divorced and we no longer receive that. Therefore, my grocery budget for our family is increasing by $25 per week this year. I shop at grocery stores (Kroger, Aldi, Target and occasionally Meijer) that also sell the toothpaste, cleaning products, cat food, vitamins… so it’s all included in our budget.

  • Ruth says:

    It’s so good to remember not to compare ourselves with others.

    I have 3 kids (one preschool age and two school age) and a husband who are bottomless pits. I’m gluten free and mostly dairy free. We garden during the summer, but don’t raise chickens or anything like that.

    We’ve been working on getting our grocery budget to $600 per month. (plus $25 for eating out) We keep a zero based budget and it seems that most months, I’m having to adjust some other area of the budget to balance our grocery bill.

    It feels pretty crazy to be working super hard to keep my grocery bill down to what many people would consider high and still not quite making it.

    It’s hard to have a super low grocery bill when almond milk is nearly 300% more expensive than cow’s milk and gluten free stuff is a lot more expensive than regular. I do without a lot of stuff just to keep the grocery bill from getting even higher.

    I use coupons as much as possible (digital and store printed coupons mostly, since I don’t get the newspaper). I use Amazon subscribe and save. (We don’t even have to pay for Amazon Prime, so that’s not an extra expense) I check ads before shopping. I buy my frozen fruit from the Dollar Tree.

    I go to the Amish store and get carefully selected salvage groceries to stock my cupboards.

    I have a nanny job where we eat dinner at their house quite a bit.

    I know that there’s other areas that we can work on, such as reducing food waste and not allowing kids to serve themselves, as their portion sizes end up way off and they end up wasting food. (my 7 year old accidentally dumped out the entire container of yogurt while trying to put some on his plate.)

    Ultimately, I have to remember that even though my grocery bill still seems high, we were probably easily hitting the $900-1000 per month mark when I didn’t work hard on keeping it down and didn’t have a budget. Keeping that in perspective helps me to feel better about the point that it’s at.

  • Missy says:

    Thank you for this post! For too long I stressed over trying to get my grocery budget as low as others, wondering why I was failing. I then realized, often, my family was much larger than the budget I was trying to mimic ( I have a family of 6 with a teenage boy!!) also, I am very limited on stores in the area I live. I also have a husband who packs his lunch daily and I purchase extra things for him that are cheaper to buy at the store than for him to purchase in convenient stores. I also notice that a lot of families are wiling to sacrifice a lot more than my family chooses to in terms of little treats and extras. We always have ice cream for a snack at night and I will buy a couple bags of chips during the week to put in my son and husband’s lunch. So, with this being said, it brings a huge amount of relief when you realize that every family and situation is different and you have to use the budget that works for your family, not someone else’s!! Thanks for all your encouragement!!!

  • Agree completely that there is no standard grocery budget that fits everyone. It depends on the diet, family preference, and shopping habits.

  • Melissa says:

    Grocery budgets vary depending on where you live as well. I live in a high cost of living area (SF bay area), so my budget reflects that. I have figured out where to go for the best prices for meat, dairy, produce, and grocery items. I divide my shopping between Costco, Trader Joe’s (the best prices for produce as well as competitive dairy pricing), and Target. I hardly ever go to the “grocery store” except for when I run out of milk or need to get bread. You just have to do what works for your family.

  • Cheryl Peters says:

    i am very new to a grocery budget, and was horrified when i realized how much just me and my husband spend on food. I am always looking for the big sales and when i find something like boneless chicken breasts for 1.29 or even less, I will buy at least 20-30lbs to freeze. So it always looks like I spend a lot. I am trying to make each month just a little bit less.

  • Ashley says:

    I’m not sure why, but I can’t find the rest of the “5 days.” How do I see the rest of this series?

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