- Go with a list- I can easily spend my entire grocery budget on "stuff that looks good" and come home without a single meal plan if I go to the store without a list.
- Check out the sales ads- a lot of times I plan my meals around the items that are on sale, especially the meat. Also, our snacks are usually whatever produce is on sale for that week. You can often stock up on items you know you'll use (ie: spaghetti sauce, dressing, frozen veggies) when they're at the best price.
- Try and find homemade alternatives to expensive convenience items- for our family, this includes protein bars(like these or these), breakfast food (make and freeze these waffles, make your own granola, bake muffins or banana bread), and quick and easy lunch stuff (smuckers uncrustables). I also try and avoid spending too much on snack items, so I don't often buy much in the way of chips and soda (even though I LOVE soda...)
- Take the budgeted amount in cash- sounds lame, right? But I know if I only have the cash I have budgeted, it is a good motivator to keep track of what I'm spending and not overspend. My friend Bethany reminded me of this when I first started to (again) be more careful with my budget for food. I used to do this all the time, but you know when you have a little more to spend you get lax..... I would rather decide to put something back or get a cheaper version of something before I get to the checkout and not have to decide quickly what to put back! So cash=spending less for me.
- Don't buy everything at Costco- yes, there are GREAT deals at Costco, but some things are a rip off there. Cereal, for example, is much cheaper on sale or with a coupon. A lot of meat is more expensive at Costco, and many times the produce is more expensive (I do think they have good, yummy meat and produce- it's just not always the cheapest). Be realistic! If you have $100 a week for groceries, and spend $60 or $70 at Costco, you're probably not going to stick to your budget, even if you eat all the food you buy from Costco and you like it!
- Focus on WHY you're sticking to your budget- for us, we have to budget carefully so we have money to do fun camping trips, scout and church activities for the kids, date nights, races for me, etc. And also so that I can continue to be a housewife. I try and think about that and how much it's worth a little effort on my budget!
With a little effort, sticking to your grocery budget is easier than you think!
Here are a couple of posts that may help you with meal planning:
Pre-Planned Menu for a Week