Including a grocery budget into your overall financial plan can be a tough thing to nail down. In fact, anything that involves food becomes hard to pinpoint a total budget “average” on simply because the foods you eat are variable to many different factors. At first, it helps to have a rough idea in mind how much you spend in a single month on groceries. From there, you can refine that number, making sure that you go below that total (or even raise the grocery budget if you simply cannot function on a certain number you previously thought you could function on).
The way I look at it all, though, is simple: My partner and I plan 6 meals a week to eat for dinner, and we factor in leftovers to 4 of those days (for lunch) and buy enough lunch meat, snacks, fruits, and whatever else as other days’ lunch and breakfast.
The thing to consider, though, is how often we go to the grocery. We make a trip once a week and buy only what we’ll need for the week ahead of us. In fact, the only time we break that rule is for spices or bulk foods (like rice) that can be stored for a good while and that we know for certain that we’ll use often enough in our dishes.
Rather than buying excess foods and snacks like candy boxes and frozen treats like ice cream that will just take up refrigerator and cupboard space, we like to keep things small and sparse in our stores.
I think this has not only helped us to save money, but it also drastically reduces our food waste. Heck, it even encourages us to eat healthier, buy better foods, and learn to cook new and different things. The more we get into this once a week grocery getting routine, the more accustomed we are to meal planning on Sundays and taking a trip to the local grocery that night or Monday evening after work. It’s been great eating all of our leftovers, reducing the foods we throw away, and even feeling like I snack from bags of chips and candy boxes less at night.
It’s crazy to think that one of these small changes (buying groceries from one week to the next) has had such a great impact on our lifestyle, but it truly has affected our finances, our health, and our food waste in positive ways that we never would have imagined prior to adopting this new routine.