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Meredith Rines is a wife and mom to an always moving toddler. When she's not chasing after her little boy, she can be found helping families with their money issues. Meredith holds her Master of Business Administration degree and is currently studying for the Certified Financial Planner exam. She helps young families start learning to budget, paying down debt, and saving for the future. Meredith's goals are to help families learn how to manage their money effectively while living the life they've always wanted. If you want to learn more about Meredith check out her blog Merelynne.com or on Facebook.
Grocery budgets can be tricky. You feel like you have to have endless choices around to keep everyone in your family happy, but that mentality could be costing you thousands every year. So, how much should your family be spending on groceries in a month? This guide will help you know what your monthly grocery budget should be no matter if you have one child or five.
A great starting place is for you to spend $100 per person in your family each month. Yes, only $100 for each family member — from newborn to adult. For example, for a family of four that would be $400 a month while a family of 6 would get $600 a month. Now, it’s not recommended to go below $300 a month no matter your family size.
Here’s what to include in your grocery budget:
Food, snacks, drinks, diapers, wipes, cleaning products, laundry detergents, toilet paper, paper towels, toiletry items like shampoos, body washes, and razor, medicines, and other consumable products.
Here’s what is NOT included in your grocery budget:
Items for your pets, monthly prescription medicines that can be costly. For instance, if you run out of Tums then that comes from your grocery budget; however, if you have a monthly prescription that needs to be filled every month and it’s expensive then you can budget for it separately.
When to bump your grocery budget:
If you have any special dietary restrictions — like gluten free, lactose intolerant, vegan, food allergies, or any others then you may have to tweak your budget. If $100 a month for each family member doesn’t work for you and you have tried for a least 4 weeks, then you will have to be willing to raise it. However, you have to have put in a full effort to keep your budget around $100 a person. If you have found that where you live or your family’s dietary concerns are making it next to impossible to keep around $100 then raise your total grocery budget by $25 a week. Keep raising your total by $25 until you find a comfortable budget that allows you to buy the foods you need and your other household items without sacrificing too much.
How much are you spending?
Go through your most recent bank statement and add up every transaction at the grocery store or drugstore within the last 30 days. Now compare that amount to the suggested $100 per person in your family guideline. It could be a shock to see just how much your family is spending on groceries each month. Especially when you take into consideration all the items you have to throw away during the month because they went bad or out of date.
Here are some tips to help you stick to your grocery budget:
1. Plan your budget on a monthly basis.
How much will you spend for the entire month? For a family of four that would be $400.
2. Plan your shopping for two weeks at a time.
Once you have your monthly budget established (i.e. $400) then break it down so you can shop every two weeks, for a family of four that would be $200 every other week. It’s recommended to shop once every two weeks to save money; however, if that is not feasible then try to go shopping only once a week.
3. Plan your meals for the next two weeks.
The best place to start is to take stock of what you already have. Take a look at your pantry, freezer and fridge. If you have any meat leftover then go ahead and create a meal around it. By using what you have on hand it will help you keep your grocery costs low.
4. Try to buy your meats or other ingredients in bigger packages.
Typically the cost per ounce or pound is a lot less in larger packages. When you meal plan try to stick to 2-3 different meats during the next two weeks so you can buy in bulk and save money.
5. Go through your house and see what items you need to buy.
Try to buy only the items you will run out of during the next two weeks. This includes food, toiletry items, cleaning products, and any other items you need. If you have enough to make it through two weeks then put it off until the next grocery trip.
6. If your family enjoys eating out then plan for it.
Make eating out a special treat and decide how often you can afford it. You may be able to afford it only once a week or maybe only twice a month, but talk with your spouse to create a plan together.
7. Plan to eat leftovers.
Whether you plan to eat leftovers one night for dinner or save them for your lunches, just try not to let food go to waste.
8. Make sure to check out sales flyers and don’t be afraid to travel to multiple stores to get the items you need.
Most grocery stores are doing away with price matching, which could make it harder to get the lowest prices at just one store. So when you make your meal plan take a look at several different sales flyers around your area.
These simple tips and guidelines can help your family save a lot of money each year. By taking control of your grocery budget you will be surprised with the extra money you have leftover each month.