How To Properly Budget for Your Next Grocery Run (2024)

How To Properly Budget for Your Next Grocery Run (1)

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Embarking on a grocery run without a game plan can feel a lot like navigating a ship without a compass — you will definitely end up somewhere, but it might not be where you intended to go.

Especially when you’re trying to manage your finances wisely, learning how to budget for your grocery shopping is an important step.

You worked hard for your money, so you should spend it wisely. Here are a few ways to make sure you get all you need (and maybe a little of what you want) without breaking the bank.

Start With What You Have

First things first, take stock of what’s already in your pantry, fridge and freezer. It’s easy to forget about that can of beans or frozen veggies lurking in the back.

By doing an inventory, you not only avoid buying duplicates but might also find inspiration for meals based on what you already have. This step can significantly reduce your grocery list and, consequently, your spending.

Plan Your Meals

Meal planning is your budget’s best friend. By deciding in advance what you’ll eat throughout the week, you can buy exactly what you need, reducing both waste and impulse buys.

Think about meals that use similar ingredients to maximize what you buy. Love bell peppers? Plan a stir-fry one night and fajitas another. This approach not only simplifies your shopping list but also makes it easier to spot which ingredients you can buy in bulk, often saving you money.

Make Your Money Work for You

Set a Budget

Now, onto the numbers. Setting a budget might seem daunting, but it’s simpler than you think.

Start by reviewing your overall monthly budget to see how much you can realistically allocate to groceries. A common suggestion is to spend around 10-15% of your monthly income on food, including dining out.

Once you have a number, try breaking it down weekly. Remember, this is a flexible target. Some weeks you might spend less, allowing you to adjust for weeks when you might need a bit more.

Use Apps and Flyers

Before you even set foot in a store, take the time to do a bit of research.

Many grocery stores have apps that showcase current sales and weekly flyers that give you an idea of what’s on special. Planning your meals around these deals will help your dollars stretch farther.

Additionally, there are numerous cash-back and coupon apps that can lead to significant savings over time. A few minutes of digital coupon clipping before your trip can lead to surprising discounts at the checkout.

Shop Smart

Once in the store, you should stick to your list but be flexible enough to take advantage of deals. For instance, if you planned to buy chicken breasts but find chicken thighs on sale, consider adjusting your meal plan. Just make sure it’s something you’ll actually use.

Make Your Money Work for You

Also, don’t be swayed by brands — often, the generic version of a product is just as good as its more expensive counterpart.

Avoid Impulse Buys

The siren call of the impulse buy is especially dangerous when you’re shopping on an empty stomach. Avoid this by trying to eat before you shop.

On the other hand, you could try allocating a small portion of your budget for impulsive or treat items. This way, you can indulge without guilt and without derailing your budget.

Track Your Spending

As you’re shopping, try to keep a running total in your head. Many people find it helpful to tally up their items using a calculator or smartphone app as they shop.

This can help you make on-the-spot decisions if you’re nearing your budget limit. Sometimes, this might mean putting something back or swapping a pricier item for a more affordable one.

Review and Adjust

After your grocery run, take a moment to review your receipts. Note where you saved money, where you might have overspent and adjust your plan for next time.

This reflection will help refine your budgeting skills, making each trip more efficient and effective.

The Takeaway

Budgeting for groceries isn’t just about saving money; it’s about taking control of your spending and eating habits. It can require a bit of upfront effort, but the payoff is well worth it.

Not only can you enjoy the satisfaction of sticking to your financial goals, but you can also revel in the creativity and variety that meal planning and smart shopping bring to your table.

Make Your Money Work for You

Editor's note: This article was produced via automated technology and then fine-tuned and verified for accuracy by a member of GOBankingRates' editorial team.

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How To Properly Budget for Your Next Grocery Run (2024)


How To Properly Budget for Your Next Grocery Run? ›

Average Cost of Groceries Per Month

The average household grocery cost per month is $475—which totals to $5,703 a year. And that number is likely to increase as overall food prices continue to go up. In fact, Americans spent 1.3% more on food at home (aka groceries) in December 2023 than they did in December 2022.

What is a realistic budget for groceries? ›

Average Cost of Groceries Per Month

The average household grocery cost per month is $475—which totals to $5,703 a year. And that number is likely to increase as overall food prices continue to go up. In fact, Americans spent 1.3% more on food at home (aka groceries) in December 2023 than they did in December 2022.

What is the 50 30 20 rule? ›

The 50-30-20 rule recommends putting 50% of your money toward needs, 30% toward wants, and 20% toward savings. The savings category also includes money you will need to realize your future goals.

How to start budgeting groceries? ›

The 50/30/20 budget can help you work out how much to spend on groceries based on your specific income and expenses. Following this framework, you spend about 50% of your monthly after-tax income on needs, 30% on wants and 20% on savings and debt repayment.

What is the 6 to 1 grocery method? ›

The 6-to-1 Grocery Method is a basic calculation (we're talking elementary-level math, basically counting), to plan your weekly grocery shop. Here's the system: Fill your grocery cart with six vegetables, five fruits, four proteins, three starches, two sauces or spreads, and one "fun" item for yourself.

What is the average grocery bill per month? ›

For a low-cost budget for a family of four, you can plan on spending $243.80 a week or about $1,055.80 a month. Moderate-cost plan. For a moderate budget for a family of four, you would spend $302.80 a week for groceries or $1,311.50 a month.

How much of monthly income should go to food? ›

Many financial advisors and gurus recommend spending no more than 10%-15% of take-home pay on food, a figure that includes restaurant dining and takeout. By this measure, a couple with $70,000 in adjusted income should keep an annual food budget in the $7,000 to $10,500 range.

Is $4000 a good savings? ›

Ready to talk to an expert? Are you approaching 30? How much money do you have saved? According to CNN Money, someone between the ages of 25 and 30, who makes around $40,000 a year, should have at least $4,000 saved.

How to budget $5000 a month? ›

Consider an individual who takes home $5,000 a month. Applying the 50/30/20 rule would give them a monthly budget of: 50% for mandatory expenses = $2,500. 20% to savings and debt repayment = $1,000.

How to budget $4000 a month? ›

making $4,000 a month using the 75 10 15 method. 75% goes towards your needs, so use $3,000 towards housing bills, transport, and groceries. 10% goes towards want. So $400 to spend on dining out, entertainment, and hobbies.

What grocery store saves you the most money? ›

According to MarketForce Information's 2024 U.S. Grocery Panel Study, these are the 10 grocery stores that offer the most value for your money, according to shoppers.
  • Food 4 Less. ...
  • Grocery Outlet. ...
  • WinCo Foods. ...
  • Giant Eagle. ...
  • Market Basket. ...
  • Wegman's. ...
  • ALDI. ...
  • BJs.
Mar 21, 2024

Is eating out cheaper than eating at home? ›

Financial advisors have long promoted home-cooked meals as a cost-saving alternative to restaurant food. A 2018 study found that, on average, you'd spend almost five times as much money ordering a delivery meal compared to cooking that same meal at home.

How to be frugal on groceries? ›

17 ways to save money on groceries
  1. Make a meal plan.
  2. Shop alone if you can.
  3. Shop during the quietest days of the week.
  4. Swap expensive cuts of meat for cheaper options.
  5. Buy generic products.
  6. Avoid buying hygiene products at the grocery store.
  7. Stick to the store's perimeter.
  8. Pay with a grocery rewards card.
Oct 23, 2023

What is the 5 4 3 2 1 rule for grocery shopping? ›

Each number corresponds to a specific food group that you'll purchase for easy, balanced meals every week. Following Coleman's method, you'd buy five different vegetables, four different fruits, three different proteins, two different sauces or spreads, and one grain—plus a special treat for yourself.

What is the 3 2 1 food rule? ›

Here's how it works:The 3-2-1 meal plan is a great way to eat healthy and lose weight because it helps you control your portions. It also helps you limit your intake of unhealthy foods. For every 3 meals that you eat, you will have 2 snacks. For every 2 snacks, you will have 1 healthy dessert.

Is 200 enough for groceries? ›

* YES! It is possible to eat healthy for $200 a month. 30 Days on $200 shopping list is intended for one person.

How much should you spend on groceries as a single person? ›

What is a realistic food budget for one person? According to USDA guidelines, one adult female should spend $73 to $113 per week. An adult male should spend $91 to $137 per week.

How much should a two-person family spend on groceries? ›

Broken down by household size: One person - $156.02. Two people - $220.82.

How to only spend $100 a month on groceries? ›

Decide what you'll eat for a week, or even a month, and plan meals based around low-cost staple foods like oats and eggs for breakfast; tuna, peanut butter, cheese and nonfat plain yogurt for lunch; and inexpensive cuts of meat like chicken thighs or flank steak and dried beans and grains like brown rice that you can ...


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