How many times have we all gone to a grocery store, filled up our carts, got to the checkout, and was astonished at a price? As the clerk scans your items, you start taking the products off the belt and get ready to let the cashier know you didn’t want the products. If this resonates with you, don’t worry we are going to fix this and learn how to grocery shop on a budget and how to create that budget. Below is actionable steps you can take and a bonus template for you to get started!
Create A List
Never go grocery shopping without a list. You will impulse buy cookies or chips you don’t need, every single time. Plus making a list helps make sure you have enough food for the week. Another reason for a checklist is to make sure you don’t forget anything while at the store. Make sure to check the refrigerator and cross-reference your records to make sure not buying anything you already have. I have been known to forget this step, and I kick my self every time. I have created a grocery list template for when you grocery shop on a budget. Once you subscribe to my blog you will receive it for free! If you opted out of subscribing you can refresh the page and the pop-up will come back!
Review Your Schedule
You are probably thinking why does my schedule matter when trying to grocery shop on a budget? Well, I can not tell you how many times I have grocery shopped for all of my meals for two weeks, but they were all the meals I had to cook and prepare. There is going to be days you are exhausted from work or your yoga class, and you will be setting your self up to fail. Because when you are tired, you will order delivery or walk to the closest restaurant, which will cause you to go over budget.
When you’re creating your ultimate grocery list and picking out the recipes you are going to eat throughout the weeks, make sure you take into consideration the days you are usually exhausted. That way you can create simple meal plans for those days. This is key when learning how to grocery shop on a budget. I am speaking from experience. I would love to list the recipes below, but I don’t want to take credit for others peoples hard work, so make sure to just google or search on Pinterest for the keywords below and you will find awesome recipes. Here is a short list of things I keep ready for the days when I am in no mood to cook:
- Tuna Salad
- Bean and Cheese Burrito
- Hamburger Helper
- Any Crock Pot Recipe
- Canned Soup
- Pan Seared Pork-chop
Eat Before You Shop
Here is another tip that is going to make you love me. Make sure to eat before you shop. It will help you stay logical in your purchases and not make craving purchases. You also will take less time at the store by being only focused on the items you need to get. Going to a grocery store hungry and expecting to stay on budget is like going to a bar with your girlfriends and planning to stay sober. It’s just not going to happen. Do your self a favor and have some carrots and hummus before you head out. Your budget will thank you.
To Buy Name Brand or To Not
There are a few select items that should be name brand always, and I will list them for you below in a few sentences, but for now, I’m going into more detail as to why I usually skip the Cheerios and go for the Circle O’s instead. (I don’t know if that is a cereal brand, but I like the way it sounds). This site contains affiliate links, but please know I would never recommend products or websites I don’t use and love myself.
A lot of products have a cheaper brand that is actually the same thing as the known brand. Costco’s Vodka, which is Kirkland, is actually Grey Goose. Oh yes, decent Vodka at a super good price. Yes, please. You should definitely check out all of the other Kirkland products. You will be shocked by all of the price cuts and savings you can accrue with the same products you normally buy anyway! The savings are at least a dollar on most of your items if you choose to skip the name brands. Those dollars definitely add up over time and can be spent wiser. Moving on to my list of things that need to be name brand:
- Cream Cheese
- Ice Cream
- Frozen Dinners
- Boxed Food like Hamburger Helper
How To Make Meat Affordable
This section is going to have a few tips and tricks for your grocery shopping on a budget. The first thing you can do is buy one large portion of meat and split it into two servings. I do this with steak all the time. It is always cheaper for me to buy a large New York Strip then two T-Bone Steaks. Splitting fish also works. I usually buy a large portion of Salmon and Cod and cut it for my self and my boyfriend for one meal. Splitting meant saves us anywhere from $7.00 to $13.00 for each piece of meat we buy alone.
Another thing you can do when you are learning how to grocery shop on a budget is only to buy meat when it goes on sale. Grocery stores usually run sales when it’s is about to be thrown out. The keyword here is about to. You typically get one to three days to cook the meat before it goes bad. It’s a win-win for both parties. The store still gets to make some money off them, and you save about 50% on items you were going to buy anyway.
This tip will be the last one on making protein affordable, I promise. Swap out regular bacon for Turkey bacon. It is way cheaper and way healthier. Over time your taste buds will get used to the change, but your body and your wallet will thank you. If I’m sincere, Turkey bacon is not that bad. You can also swap out ground beef for sausage. I do this for Hamburger Helpers and spaghetti. Ground sausage has way more flavor than ground beef anyway. Swapping ground sausage for ground beef is another savings opportunity of about a dollar each for the ground sausage. And two dollars for the Turkey bacon.
Tips For Chicken
This next tip is about efficiency and money saving. In my free printable grocery list, I have included chicken breast. This is for a couple of reasons. One: Chicken breast is extremely healthy for you. Reason number two is because you get so much of it when you buy the chicken at the store you can make it last for up to nine months in the freezer. You can review the Food Safety guidelines here just in case you think I’m fibbing.
Make sure that as soon as you get home, you take the chicken out of the package and place the chicken in freezer safe containers based on portions if there is only two of you in your household freeze two chicken breasts together. If there is four of you make sure to freeze four pieces together. This way you do not have to cook them all together. You know you do not want to spend an hour and a half preparing eight chicken breasts that will go bad in your fridge. Now by all means, if you will eat all of them before they need to be thrown out then yes you would want to cook them all together. I am not personally a fan of chicken, so I eat it very rarely.
Stock Up On Veggies
Vegetables are a vital ingredient to any shopping list and especially when you are learning how to grocery shop on a budget. They keep you full and add a ton of nutrients to your diet. Go to the freezer section and grab a few bags of frozen vegetables every couple of weeks. Every dinner I make includes vegetables, and it takes five minutes to add them to a meal. You boil the water, add the veggies, wait five minutes, and drain.
You can always buy fresh vegetables, and this is the healthier route, but this article is more about saving money and learning how to grocery shop on a budget. Crisp vegetables cost more, so if you can add $25.00 every two weeks then go for the fresh option instead. My personal preference is the frozen vegetables and not because of the cost. To have them already cut and prepped for me works better for my crazy schedule — just another thing to keep in mind.
Grocery Shop Budget Template
Well, the reading part of this article is over, but now you get to create your shopping list. Don’t worry I have started the hard part for you. Now all you have to do is add to your ingredients and the cost. My grocery list template also includes a bonus. I have created a two-week layout, so you can make sure you have enough food for each day of the week. That part can always be a little tricky, so I thought I’d get rid of the problem for you. I hope this article was helpful regarding how to grocery shop on a budget. As always if you have any comments or questions, you can always email me or leave a comment below. I love to hear from you all!
The Finance Fairy