I have struggled and wrestled with my grocery budget for years. It has defeated me time and again. But no more. I will not back down.
My past bank statements would argue this, but research has shown me that it is absolutely possible for My House to live within our $460 budget for the month – that includes food, hygiene, paper products, household items, and the like.
This budget is in place for a reason – we have goals and dreams that go beyond mere survival. We hope to donate money to charities that are important to us, pay down our mortgage faster, stay out of debt as much as possible, build up a savings account that allows for emergencies, and especially be a positive example to our children as they grow up.
That being said, here’s a few ideas to help with the grocery budget in your house:
- Develop a Budget if you don’t already have one – Crown Financial Canada has some wonderful tools – I love this Budget Percentage Guide that shows how much you should be spending on what, depending on your annual household income.
- Shop Your Local Flyers. This is where you will find some amazing deals. Make a list and check it twice!
- Learn the Best Prices for groceries and other household items, then only buy those things when they are on a super-good deal. Mrs. January has some extremely helpful tools for budgeting – including a Stock-Up Price List! (Scroll down the page until you find this pdf to print out.)
- Stock Up when items are on for a can’t-be-beat price. For example – I took the plunge this fall, and stocked up on toilet paper, paper towels, Kleenex and napkins when they went on sale for a lower-than-low price (plus I had great coupons to go with them!) and now there is a small area in my basement that contains enough of these products to last about a year. At first mention, it sounds crazy, and it felt a little weird to buy that much at once, but as I got in line, there were others like me who knew a good deal when they saw one, and took the same plunge as myself. Paper products never expire, so why not?
- Use Coupons!!! I used to use coupons occasionally, if I had one, and if I remembered to put it in my purse. Since the summer I have been taking couponing a lot more seriously, and now I save quite a bit every month. Once you get the hang of it – printing out coupons, ordering them, collecting them from booklets, noticing the tear-off coupon pads in stores – it can actually be really fun! And when there’s a sale PLUS I have a coupon, it’s a great feeling to get items for free or next to nothing. The trick for me has been in learning what items I really NEED, instead of what I have a coupon for. I’m much more selective in the coupons I use now than when I first started a few months ago. Plus couponing has encouraged me to sometimes try new items, which leads to new recipes, which is a win-win at My House. Search the web for great places to find Canadian coupons – just to name a few, I love Proctor and Gambel, GoCoupons, websaver, save.ca, SmartSource.
- Subscribe to Blogs that read the flyers, browse the coupon sites, and match up the two for you! Mrs. January publishes her Coupon Match-Ups, and Save Big Live Better publishes their Weekly Matchups.
- Reduced Racks – don’t be bashful about looking on the reduced racks at the stores. Produce, bakery, meat, and lots of other items can be found here. Some meats or breads may expire soon, so they’ll need to go in the freezer as soon as you get home and pulled out when you’re ready to eat them. Vegetables and fruit might need to be chopped and frozen when you get home, and then used when you’re ready. You can save quite a bit and get items that are very tasty.
- Bakery Outlets – we never pay full price for our bread products (unless we’re in a squeeze!). Our local Weston’s bakery outlet has bread, hotdog/hamburger/sausage/sub buns, bagels, croissants, kaisers, tortilla wraps, and more on for less than half the price of the grocery stores.
- Talk to Your House about your efforts, share the joy of finding good deals, treat everyone to something special occasionally (with a coupon!). Make it exciting to live within a budget!
- Accountability – connect with others who are on the same journey of living in the budget. I found this wonderful community at Canadian Budget Binder who participate in this Grocery Game Challenge every week. It has been really eye-opening for me to jot down every single grocery/household item I purchase in a week and see where the money really goes. In such a short time I have been able to see what habits need to go and what can stay. I have gained a lot of confidence in knowing I am not alone in this journey, and the accountability has been a wonderful asset for me. Yes, it takes a few extra minutes that I thought I didn’t have in my days, but it is well worth the effort.