How To Create a Family Grocery Budget - Baby Chick

How To Create a Family Grocery Budget

Financial planner shares their 9 tips on creating and maintaining a monthly family grocery budget

Published November 8, 2017

by Meredith Rines

Accountant and Certified Financial Planner
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Grocery budgets can be tricky. You feel like you have to have endless choices to keep everyone in your family happy, but that mentality could cost you thousands every year. So, how much should your family spend on groceries monthly? This guide will help you know what your monthly grocery budget should be, no matter if you have one child or five.

How To Create Your Grocery Budget

A great starting place is to spend $100 per person in your family each month. Yes, only $100 for each family member — from newborn to adult. For example, a family of four would be $400 a month, while a family of six would get $600 monthly. Here’s what to include and exclude from your monthly grocery budget:

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, razors, medicines, and other consumable products.

What is NOT Included in Your Grocery Budget

Items for your pets and monthly prescription medicines can be costly. For example, if you run out of Tums, that comes from your grocery budget; however, if you have an expensive prescription that needs to be filled every month, you can budget for it separately.

When To Bump Your Grocery Budget

You may have to tweak your budget if you have any special dietary restrictions — like gluten-free, lactose intolerant, vegan, food allergies, or others. If $100 a month for each family member doesn’t work for you and you have tried for at least four weeks, you may have to raise it. However, you have to 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 nearly impossible to keep around $100, raise your total grocery budget by $25 a week. Keep raising your total by $25 until you find a comfortable budget to buy the foods you need and other household items without sacrificing too much.

How much are you spending?

Go through your most recent bank statement and add up every grocery store or drugstore transaction within the last 30 days. Compare that amount to the family guideline suggestion of $100 per person. It could be a shock to see how much your family spends on groceries each month, especially when you consider all the items you have to throw away during the month because they went bad or were out of date.

9 Tips To Help You Stick To Your Grocery Budget

Plan, plan, plan! Here are nine tips you can use to help you stick to your grocery budget every month simply by planning.

1. Plan Your Budget Monthly

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 your monthly budget is established (i.e., $400), break it down to shop every two weeks. For example, a family of four will be $200 every other week. We recommend shopping once every two weeks to save money; however, if that is not feasible, try 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 left over, create a meal around it. Using what you have on hand will help you keep your grocery costs low.

4. Try To Buy Ingredients in Bigger Packages

Typically, the cost per ounce or pound of meat is a lot less in larger packages. So, when you meal plan, stick to two to three different meats during the next two weeks to buy in bulk and save money.

5. Go Through Your House and See What You Must 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 for two weeks, put it off until the next grocery trip.

6. If Your Family Enjoys Eating Out, 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 the Leftovers

Whether you plan to eat leftovers one night for dinner or save them for your lunches, try not to let food go to waste.

8. Check Out Sales Flyers, and Don’t Be Afraid To Travel to Multiple Stores to Get What You Need

Most grocery stores are doing away with price matching, making it harder to get the lowest prices at just one store. So, when you make your meal plan, look at several sales flyers around your area.

9. Use Curbside Pickup

Most grocery stores are offering this service now. Curbside pickup makes it easy to know how much you’re spending, add/remove items from your cart, and stay within budget.

These simple tips and guidelines can help your family save money each year. Taking control of your grocery budget will surprise you with the extra monthly money you have left over.

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Meredith Rines, MBA, CFP®
Meredith Rines Accountant and Certified Financial Planner
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Wife, Mom, MBA, Certified Financial Planner, and a budget and financial strategist helping families pay off debt and live the life they've always wanted. Meredith resides in Missouri with her… Read more

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