Thursday, February 28, 2013

Grocery Budgeting Made Fun

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Last year around this time I read a post on one of my very favorite blogs; The Vanilla Tulip. Ashley wrote a post on thrifty thoughts when it comes to budgeting for groceries. Her ideas have stuck with me for a year now and I can say it's something I've incorporated when I take the time to budget. 

In the past when I've thought of the word budget I've attached a negative connotation to the word. I've immediately thought of someone who lives paycheck to paycheck. This is so far from the truth though. Having a budget {at least to me} means that someone is keeping a watchful eye on their finances, watching where they are spending money and where they can save more. What I've learned from Ashley, and what I'm showing you today has helped us save money at the grocery store. 

I start by making a weekly meal plan, writing down the days of the week I plan on cooking and what we're having. Then I head over to my pantry and see if I already have any of the ingredients on hand. If I do, great. If I don't, the items go on the list. I jot down everything we need from the store including meal items, pantry items I could snatch up on sale, produce, snacks, beverages, etc. 

Then I categorize each of the items into main groups such as bread, frozen, produce, meat, dairy, pantry, snacks, toiletries, and beverages. Then each of the items on my grocery list would be added under the appropriate category.

Here's a step by step in pictures of what this week's grocery list looked like.

Grab all your supplies; notebook, blank paper, and pen.

Make your list. It's helpful to do this in front of your pantry to get an idea of what you already have. 

 On your blank piece of paper jot down different categories; produce, dairy, bread, meat, snacks, pantry, frozen, etc. Add each item from your list under it's appropriate category, then cross it off your first list. 
 Lastly, price the items. Next to each item write roughly how much it will cost. Tally up each individual category, then add the categories together to get your final number. 

We don't have a strict budget that we stick to every week. Whatever we need for the week is what I get, but using this system forces me to take the time to see what items I have in my pantry I can plan a meal around. Another huge benefit is the amount of time it saves me once I'm in the store. It takes a little extra time at home, but saves time at the store which is fine by me. I can buzz through the store pretty quick when all my items are categorized. No more doing loops around the store.

A few other tips that have helped us save money when it comes to grocery shopping is trying not to go when we're hungry. Everything looks good when you're hungry. Eat something before hand and stick to the list. I also try to go to the store as little as possible, read: once a week. Let's say I run to the store Tuesday to grab just a few items for my chocolate chip cookie craving, chances are I will end up purchasing additional items I didn't go to the store for. Going to the store less usually means I'm spending less.

Do you budget? Do you have any tricks when it comes to budgeting, saving money, or grocery shopping? This girl loves learning new things so let me know your secrets!


  1. FUN! I love good tips for organizing anything. And lately I have been into organizing our grocery shopping and menu planning. Thanks for the great tips!

  2. There is a neat print out on my blog for grocery lists bc I do the same thing! Check it out you will love it. Or you can go to

  3. Making a meal plan for the week is huge. It makes life so much easier! I also make my grocery list based on my grocery store's ad for the week. A sneak peek of the ad comes out every Monday, and the sale starts on Wednesday, so that gives me a few days to track down coupons and come up with the meals for the week. Then, I write our meals for the week on a chalkboard in the kitchen - it helps me remember, and lets the Hubs know what's for dinner :)

  4. I love this! I have so much fun doing the same thing.. then again, I am an organizational freak. LOL :)

  5. Great idea... I was much better about this stuff before I had kids. I know we could cut down our grocery spending quite a bit if I would plan better. Thanks for the reminder.

    I'd be thrilled if you'd link up at this week's Off the Hook!

  6. there was at time when i would save my receipts from the last trip to check out the prices of each item and give me an idea of what i was going to spend. planning is always the way to go, this is a great way to budget! i know what you mean about budget being seen as a negative word, but when i budget i end up with more spending money for fun things. that can't be negative at all!

  7. I don't really budget, but I do make a list like yours to get the exact things we need.... the trouble is actually sticking to the list. We usually will switch the list around or decide to go out instead or something so we wind up with groceries that go bad, or not enough of something because we used it one something unplanned. :)

  8. Love this! We live by a budget because it helps us actually put money away for vacations, cars, and Christmas. I love these idea! It is so helpful to plan before you go to the store, especially if you are going with kids, that way you don't excessively spend on things you don't need. Thank you for sharing!

  9. I do budget but never thought of adding a "max value to spend" on an item...which is a good idea! I just buy things when they are on sale and stock up on items my family uses regularly. At the end of each week (usually fridays) I make sure to write down what we need and then start searching the flyers for good deals. I always make sure to buy things when they're on sale, unless i absolutely need it or it doesn't go on sale. Thanks for sharing!


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