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Budgeting is something that has been difficult for me to do in the past. The rising food prices make it even harder. I started my $20 grocery & meal challenge back in August of 2021 to help me budget my food costs. I did this because I found myself spending a lot more money on food and most of the time items would go to waste.
This was the very first time I actually paid attention to how I have spent my money on food. I mean the cost per item at times was just absurd. In the beginning, I had people telling me to buy bigger bags of items, but I had to explain that half of the bag would go bad before I could use it.
The goal I set out to do was to purchase items using $20 and create a meal. So, if my recipe calls for rice, chicken, broccoli, garlic, and parsley those are the only items I’d use to create the meal. If I needed oil or butter that too would but accounted for in the $20. Now many people are used to similar challenges that also utilize pantry items already at home, but I was starting from scratch. I started the challenge then I stopped after a few months because I thought I had a good grasp of my spending (I was wrong). I also had a few people suggest that I shop at multiple stores but that isn’t the point. The point is on my regular grocery trip I spend $20 and make a meal.
My Shopping Process
I plan my meals. I mean I really plan my meals. I think about what I want for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and write them down. This may seem like a no-brainer, but I never actually planned my meals before. I always thought of what I wanted to eat and went shopping and doing it that way used to cost me money.
Shop & Compare
I list all ingredients needed to prepare the meals no matter how small. Then I compare prices with different stores (I usually do a comparison of 4 grocery stores). I make a spreadsheet (this may be too much for you, but I do it) and list each item and the price each store offers. In the end, I total the amount and purchase the items from the cheapest store. This has worked for me and allowed me to save money and stick to my budget.
Since I am on a strict budget, once I complete the 2 steps above, I write my shopping list in my notebook and make notes of the store and my trip budget. Once I am at the store, I record the item prices while I shop. As you know grocery shopping can be frustrating because sometimes items are out of stock, prices are different so the meal idea may need to change. This is where I adjust my shopping list and record prices to help me stay on track with my budget.
The End Result
Since adopting this way of grocery shopping it has saved me money and time. I am more organized which helps a person like me lol and with inflation, on the rise, it helps to save money. Prior to me not planning my purchases I would end up with lots of waste which broke my heart (and pockets).
Since becoming serious about my grocery budget I created a Grocery Shopping Notebook (available on all Amazon marketplaces). It outlines everything that I’ve discussed so it’s easy to plan your meals, shop and compare, track your spending and grocery prices.
I am more mindful of my purchases and the type of foods I consume since it is very easy to overspend. I’ve made these small changes and I hope you find them useful in your daily life.
Do you have a set plan when you go grocery shopping?