Your Grocery Spending Can Quickly Destroy a Budget!

Problem #34: How Can I Save Money When My Grocery Spending is Always Out of Control?

How often do you check up on your budget with the expectation that you’re doing well just to find your budget trashed – all because of the food/grocery category? What did we even eat that costs so much?

Please tell me that you’re actually doing a budget? If you’re not – you need a plan. Read this post to get started.

Even with a budget/plan, keeping your grocery spending under control can be a challenge. My wife and I had this PROBLEM. But we figured out how to save ~$200 per month while still eating well! You can too!

 

There were three changes we made that allowed us to gain mastery of our food category in our budget. By the way, I was not willing to sacrifice my tasty dinners for “beans and rice” like a certain other financial guru espouses.

1. Stopped Shopping at BJ’s Wholesale Club

grocery cartsCostco, Sam’s Club, and BJ’s are the most popular bulk foods store in the United States. They are fantastic marketers. They know how to get you to spend money. Have you ever heard someone say, “You can’t leave with less than $250 worth of stuff”? What they mean is – it’s easy to spend large amounts of money in a single trip. That’s exactly what we were doing. Everything seemed like such a great deal.

I’m sure if you meticulously planned your purchases you could save money by buying in bulk. After all, the unit prices are lower when you buy in bulk – usually. But what ended up happening was – we bought other items as well – because they were a great deal. And we rationalized it by assuring each other that we would use those items eventually. We regularly spent $250 every two weeks. And we still had some produce and other groceries to buy. We had to spend even more money. When I broke it down, we spent $165 a week on food/groceries.

So we decided to stop shopping at BJs. It was as simple as that.

2. We set a Limit and Used Only Cash For Groceries

This is the only category in our budget where we use cash. This has enabled the grocery shopper in our family (not me – if you were wondering) to have a well-defined limit. If all you can spend is the cash in your pocket, you can’t overspend your budget. We set a limit of $120 per week. I understand that some may spend more or less, but this has worked well for our family of 5. The point is to not overspend – because you can’t.

produce in a grocery basket

I will admit – It was a struggle until we implemented the third change.

3. We Eat the Same 7 Meals for Dinner Every Week

Some of you may not be able to this, but just think about it for a minute. Think through all the meals that you eat for dinner. How many of them do you “love”? If you honestly think about it, there’s probably only 5 or 6 meals that you make that you really love to eat. Start making only those meals. You don’t really like the other ones anyway.

We eat the same meal now every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, etc. Implementing a change like this allows the grocery shopping to be much simpler. My wife almost doesn’t even need a grocery list anymore. She buys the same ingredients every week. This has allowed our budget of $120 per week to stay reasonable.

Conclusions

If you’re keeping track – Our grocery spending went from $165/week to $120/week. A savings of $45/week!! This equates to ~$200 per month.

What do you think? Could you eat the same 7 meals every week? Your grocery spending will become more predictable – it will be under control.

-Chris

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10 Comments

  1. I don’t mind eating the same meal over again, so I eat the same breakfast and lunch nearly every day. It saves both time and money.

    I have a Sam’s Club membership because of the Airbnb space I run. I use it for individual snacks and drinks and cleaning supplies. If I didn’t have the Airbnb purchases, I would give up my membership. It’s too tempting to throw a couple of things in the cart and suddenly I’ve spent way more than I budgeted.

    • I actually eat pretty much the same thing everyday for lunch too – PB&J. Maybe it’s boring, but I like it. Good for you. Thanks for commenting.

  2. Going to the cash system for groceries was not only a huge money saver but it also changed my way of prioritizing what was necessity. When you have a limited amount of money in you hand it really makes you stop and think twice before putting something in your cart! Aren’t you glad we finally found a way to keep the fridge full without breaking the budget? 😉

  3. I’ve always maintained that the grocery budget is the best place to start to see results in budgeting. I thought I’d heard all the advice out there, but your suggestion to eat the same meals every week was new to me. It sounds radical, but it’s good advice and not that far from what we actually do anyway. The only thing I would add is to shop at a store like Aldi, if available. We save a lot by shopping there not only because of their low prices, but also because of their more limited selection.
    Thank you for that new idea, Chris!

    • I agree, that’s always been our experience as well. Thanks for the comment. Oh, and we love Aldi’s too. I probably should have mentioned them. Thanks again.

  4. Eating the same things every week sounds boring but totally saved our grocery budget! Our grocery spending was out of control until I implemented this about a month ago, and honestly, it’s not boring at all! We do a lot of salads, and we just mix up the salad toppings (tomatoes, mushrooms, onions, olives, etc.) so it doesn’t feel like the same salad every week.

    Oh, and Costco/BJ’s/Sam’s Club… I can’t believe how easy it is to walk out of there spending $100 for 4 items! :-/

    • Thanks for the comment, Melissa. I appreciate you stopping by. Grocery shopping can be a budget buster – glad to hear you’ve managed to control yours.

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