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Frugal Living: Grocery Shopping On A Budget

Aug 14, 2008
It is hard for many families to live within their means in today's economy. As a stay at home mom of two I had to figure out how to make the most of my grocery budget with prices constantly going up. Here are a few tips that have helped me and will hopefully help you too.

Planning Your Budget

The best way to live frugally is to plan ahead. Looking in the grocery ads can cause a wave of despair and worry that you won't have enough money. Here are a few tips on planning your grocery budget that may help you stretch your dime into a dollar:

1. Calculations - Try to get an idea how much it costs to feed each person in your household. Throughout the years, I've found that it takes approximately $30 - $37 dollars a week to feed one person - it may be more or less, depending on how much your family eats and where you live. Here is a simple formula to figure out your weekly grocery budget:

(number of family members) x $34 (average) = (weekly grocery budget)

For example, since there are four people in my home; I have $136 allotted for the week. With any luck I will save more with grocery coupons and store sales.

2. Plan your meals around the store sales. Keep them simple: protein, vegetable, carbohydrates. If possible, plan to use the same type of meat twice in one week; you can buy in bulk, separate and freeze. Plan chicken for one night (cook a few extra) and two days later make a casserole with the leftovers.

3. After you have planned your menus for the week make a list and put the price next to each item. You can easily get this amount from the sales ads and estimate the other items on your list. This doesn't have to be exact. If you generally buy the same items often then you probably have a good idea of the cost.

4. Round up to the nearest dollar. Even if you're buying something that's $0.39, write it down as a dollar. Those pennies add up; I end up spending $10 to $20 less than I planned to, using this rule.

5. Add up the totals as you shop. Since you are rounding up you can probably keep a running total in your head. Once you have reached that total, stop and check your meal plan. If you're at the amount that you allotted yourself for and only have three meals covered, you need to reassess your menus.

Although every household has different eating habits, this is a good start getting on a grocery budget. Try to tailor this plan to fit your family's needs.

Eating Healthy on a Budget

Sometimes it feels like healthy foods are just too expensive. If your supermarket has a health food section you know what I mean. However, being on a tight budget doesn't mean that you can't get the healthy grains vegetables, fruits, etc. you need. The next time you make a grocery list, keep the following in mind:

Not all vegetables are created equally - meaning that fresh isn't the same as frozen, and frozen isn't the same as canned. Buy frozen if you can't afford fresh. The juice in canned vegetables is where most of your vitamins are. Not so with frozen vegetables; the vitamins are still in the food itself. Buying frozen vegetables generally gives you more for your money as well.

Buy potatoes, noodles or rice, but use them sparingly. Give larger amounts of vegetables, with the starches as a side dish.

Buy carrots as snack foods for the kids. You can buy a large bag for low cost, peel them and then cut them up. Not only do they get vitamins this way, but they're also low in calories. Most kids like carrots because they're sweet.

Buy in Bulk

Whenever you can - and if you have the freezer room - buy your meats and vegetables in bulk. You can save a lot of money this way. Meat is usually cheaper by the pound when you buy the big packs.

You can do many things to turn your dimes into dollars; this outline is just the tip of the iceberg. However, the biggest thing is to look at cost vs. amount. While generic foods may look like a better deal, the contents of the container may weigh much less than name brands. Do your research - though it may take more time, it will take less money.
About the Author
Are you looking for ways to save money so that you can stay home with your children? Visit Wahm On A Budget for frugal tips as well as ideas to earn money from home.
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