If you’ve been following my blog, you are by now well aware that my weekly grocery budget for two adults is $70. Ever curious how my husband Ty and I came up with this number? Well it was shortly after we moved to Chicago in July 2013 with no jobs and only wedding money to our name, that we realized we needed to get a grip on our spending. In our first month as a married couple, we spent over $850 on food, with $465 of that on groceries ($116 a week!). It was obvious that food was the easiest place to start cutting costs. We needed to eat out less and come up with a grocery budget so I jumped onto mint.com to help make this happen.
We slashed our current habits nearly in half and started at $65 per week on groceries. We quickly saw room for more adjustments and made our grocery budget even tighter at only $50 per week. I stuck to this number by learning to check store ads, write out meal plans and grocery lists, and to keep track of who had the best prices. I also started cooking from scratch – ditching the store-bought pancake mixes, ready-made cookies, and frozen pizzas to keep costs low. Budgeting forced me to kick my kitchen skills up a notch!
HALT. Jump to today. We don’t eat in the same way as we were a year and a half ago, but the habits I was forming then to cut costs continue to help us today in sticking to a real food budget. We’ve allowed ourselves a little more wiggly room (mostly thanks to stable jobs), but still find it totally doable to keep to a strict budget while eating unprocessed, natural foods.
But just because we spend $70 per week on groceries doesn’t mean this is the right budget for you.
Wonder where to begin when starting your own grocery budget?
- Become aware of how much you’re currently spending. Look back over the past 4-6 weeks to get a good idea.
- For your first week’s budget, trim off $10 from your current expenses. If you don’t even notice the cutback, try decreasing by another $10 the next week. Keep going until it hurts a little.
- Use an online budget tracker like mint.com to keep you in check.
Still feel lost? Use this chart from the USDA outlining the average grocery cost for Americans as a guide. According to what’s listed, my household is spending less than those on the “Thrifty Plan”. You can also check out this food budget calculator to give you a better idea.
How about you? What’s your current grocery budget? Do you think of yourself as a thrifty or liberal shopper?
Curious what I consider a good price for groceries? I’ve listed the maximum price I’ll pay for food on this page!
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