How to Create a Grocery Budget
Your goal is to create a grocery budget that feels good with your lifestyle and the foods you enjoy eating.
It can be daunting when you are first starting out with a food budget. It’s okay! It takes some time to get used to it and there is a lot of trial and error throughout the process.
I have broken it down into a few simple steps that you can follow.
To get started, you need to look at your past food costs. This means getting out your receipts, credit card statements, app order confirmations, or bank statements to start adding up how much you’ve spent on groceries and food over the past month.
If possible, try to gather as much data for yourself as you can. I would try to go back several months so you can start to see patterns in your food spending.
Some months we spend more than others and that will be helpful for you to see when you are creating a budget.
I like to create two separate categories for my budget: one for grocery shopping expenses and one for fast food and convenience item
After you have gathered all the information you need, add it up to get a total for each month. If you don’t have access to all the data, don’t worry, you can start the next time you go grocery shopping. Remember, it will evolve over time.
You can also try estimating food costs. If you are like me and purchase a lot of the same foods you may already have an idea of how much the cost of your weekly/monthly items are right now. If so, take out a sheet of paper and write that down so you can reference it.
Look at how much you’ve spent on food and groceries for the month
Is it too much?
Can you cut back on anything?
Does the number seem way out of budget for you?
Where can you cut back?
Are you spending too much on fast food or convenience items?
There isn’t a hard and fast rule for your budget. Everyone’s situation is different, so only you can answer those questions for yourself.
You may be someone who looks at your monthly income and wants to allocate a particular amount each month for groceries and then challenge yourself to stay within the budget.
For example, you might put $500 aside for the month and see how far you can stretch that money to make it to the end of the month.
Or, you may be someone who sees that you are spending $700 a month on food and groceries and want to challenge yourself to slowly cut back so that you can get that to $550 a month.
The path you choose is up to you, but the goal is to save money.
The next step is to start tracking it in one place. I recommend using some kind of grocery budget template.
You can download the grocery template I use here.
When you start tracking it you can get a better idea of how much you are actually spending and how you can start to save money on groceries.
Plus, you can start to break it down into different categories.
For example, you can begin to compare how much you spend on produce versus condiments or household items.
When you begin to track all of this information it becomes so much easier to make decisions about your budget and see all the ways you can cut back or start saving.
For example, when you start tracking your food expenses you might see a pattern where you spend $25/week on fast food because you didn’t meal plan. This will allow you to focus on just making that one change and plan your meals so you can save that $100/month.
Without tracking it though you may never have seen that issue arise.
Printable Grocery Budget
Below you will find a breakdown of all the worksheets in my printable grocery budget. It comes with 15 pages.
You can also download a copy of my free printables Budget Binder if you want a more in-depth look at budgeting as a whole.
Weekly Grocery List – Thi printable grocery list template will help you to keep a running tab of the items you need to get the next time you go grocery shopping. It is broken up into different categories to help you stay organized. Also, this will help you to stay on track when you start using a weekly meal planner so you are only adding items to your list that you need for your meals instead of unnecessary purchases (<– this is where a lot of our grocery budget gets wasted). When you use a basic grocery list and stick to it you will start to see your grocery spending decrease each month.
Grocery Budget Tracker – Once you download the printable grocery budget you will get access to this worksheet to help you organize all of your grocery spendings for the month. You can add in the monthly food allowance you have budgeted for yourself and then begin to track how much you spent at each store. This will help you see where you are spending your money and how much you have left over at the end of each week.
Freezer Inventory – I hate wasting food and our freezer items were a huge reason why I started using inventory worksheets in the first place. Out freezer is the drawer type which means the items stack on top of each other. I often wouldn’t see beef or chicken breasts or even bacon that we had in the freezer and then find it months later and would have to throw it out. Using a freezer inventory worksheet has helped me not only plan our meals better but spend less on meat at the grocery store. Since it’s a main source of protein in our meals I hated having to throw it away especially because I bought the family size portions.
Pantry Inventory – Using this sheet will help you to keep track of all your pantry items such as rice, pasta, quinoa, sauces, flour, ketchup, soups, noodles, peanut butter, potatoes, mustard, oatmeal, cookies, snacks, chips, and other pantry staples. I like to reference this inventory worksheet when I am making a grocery list so that I am not buying things that we already have.
Fridge Inventory – This is where you can keep stock on all your refrigerated items like milk, celery, carrots, sandwiches, salads, drinks, tomatoes, apples, eggs, cheese, vegetables, soda, dairy products, and all of the other refrigerated items.
Spice Inventory – This is one place where I always found myself throwing things away because I didn’t know we had it or the spices and herbs were tucked back into your cabinet and I just didn’t see them. Now that I have an inventory sheet for all the spices and seasonings I can quickly check it to see what we are actually out of.
Meal Planner – This one is self-explanatory, but you can save a lot of money when you use a weekly meal planner. Plus, it helps you to stay on track and not overspend on fast food. In the Grocery Budget pack you get access to 3 different options for meal planners.
Monthly Planner – This worksheet is here to help you plan ahead for the month. You can write in any dates where you know you’ll be eating out or have plans where you might be spending more money on food. Doing this will help you to plan your budget around your life events.
Price Comparison Chart – This is one of my favorite worksheets in the grocery budget printables pack. It is a chart for you to compare the prices of items you buy regularly so you know the best price to stock up. There is a space for the store, item, size, price, and unit price. Stocking up when items go on sale will help you to save money so that you aren’t paying full price for something when it isn’t on sale.
Recipe Cards – Start keeping track of all your recipes in one place. My favorite part about this worksheet is it includes a spot for the average cost to make the recipe. Maybe you are sitting down to plan your weekly meals and want to find an inexpensive recipe, scanning through these will help you to make your decision.
Favorite Food Tracker – I sometimes have a VERY hard time finding meals that my whole family will enjoy eating so I keep track of all of our favorites. I often experiment with new foods, but I like to have a list of meals that I know everyone will eat.
Ways to Save Money on Groceries
It can be challenging to save money on groceries especially if you have a large family. Please keep in mind that your spending can fluctuate quite a bit so don’t get discouraged at first.
Here are a few ways to cut costs on groceries:
Meal planning – Instead of just heading to the grocery store and just buying things that you want you can meal plan and get just the items you need for those meals. Plus, when you are meal planning you can plan the meals around what is on sale at your grocery store to save even more money.
Avoid impulse buying
Stock-up when items are on sale
Look for coupons before you head to the store
Try substituting generic brands
Stick to your grocery list
Take baby steps so that it feels more doable. You don’t need to make drastic changes.
Start using our printable grocery budget pack to get started today.