How to Budget for Groceries

This past week I got an email from reader Lisa that said:

so, I am trying to do things differently as well in 2011. I love the bargains and deals, and I love to have my toiletries and stuff stockpiled when I get good deals. The problem I am having is trying to figure out when to go for the deals and when to not spend. I think my fear (crazy as that sounds) is that if I miss a deal at a really good price, I may have to spend more for it later. So, do you have a separate budget for toiletries and drugstore deals from groceries? If so, how much per month?

First I will address the budget thing and then address the sale missing.  No, I don’t have a separate budget.  I have one budget for all household and food expenses.  The way I stay within this budget amount is that I shop until the money is gone and then stop shopping.  There are 2 approaches you can take to budgeting for these things:

  1. Budget and spend a month of budget money.  You can look at your budgeted amount per month and set that aside and spend it until it is gone for the month and then stop buying or even looking at the sales.
  2. Budget by week.  This way you are able to see the sales and get the things that are highest priority each week and get the prices you think you should spend.

Neither of these ways is right or wrong it is just important to get it set up how it works for your family.  I have gone back and forth between these  and have settled on us having a months worth of budget and spending what I need to until the budget is gone or I don’t need to shop and then stop spending. To give you an idea of what we spend for our family of 5, my budget fluctuates between $140-$180 per month for groceries when I am shopping regularly.  I have heard of budgets of couponers being between $35-$55 per week for groceries in California.

Through the couple of years I have been stock piling, I have discovered that you will always get the best deal to you.  Prices will fluctuate on things and there will always be a better deal at one point or another.  You really can’t focus on the fact of what is the best deal.  You have to focus on living on less.  This focus will help you to save more.  This is because you aren’t comparing your sale prices with the new ones, you are focusing on if you have enough for your family.  If you have enough then you have done your job and can stop shopping.  There are months where other then produce and milk we don’t shop.  This month is going to be one of those months.  When we do buy those things we only buy them every other week.

The other important thing you learn is that sales always cycle.  If you miss something this week it will be back within3 months.  If you have to buy something to tide you over to a sale buy the cheapest generic and get you through to the sale.  It isn’t a bad thing to do this, but as you have your stock pile you learn what you need and so you know how much of these things to buy.

Anything that you feel you overspend in, you just have to add that to what I call the learning tax.  This is the price you pay to learn your lessons.  It is totally ok to do and part of learning in life.  You just have to focus on this.  and feel like it is ok to do.  You learn what you need and how much to buy and then stop yourself from shopping.

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Does anyone have anything else to add or suggestions on how to budget for your groceries?

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One Comment

  1. mariana p says:

    i have a comment about this but i’m going to email you first and you do the info what you will.