Here's another blog entry I was asked to write!
How do we budget our groceries? Now let me remind you before I go on, we are a family of 7, so the average family will obviously have a smaller grocery bill than us! I also have 4 boys who eat more than I do (really).
We budget in $250 - $300 a week for groceries. This includes paper towels, toilet paper and cleaning products. For a smaller family that may seam like a large amount, but between the number in our household and the fact that we have no choice but to be picky due to Cameron's allergies, it's what we've come up with. Sometimes we come in under budget on good weeks that we were able to find useful coupons, store deals etc. We do not use any boxed foods and we buy a lot of fruit and fresh vegetables. The kids lunches are usually some kind of sandwich or wrap with side of fruit, apple sauce, yogurt or fresh raw veggies like baby carrots. Most of our meals have fresh vegetables and if it's not fresh, it's frozen. What I'm getting at is, we are not buying the cheapest things we can, which we can't anyway because like I mentioned before, Cameron's food allergies limits us quite a bit with being able to buy anything packaged. I prefer not to use packaged foods anyway, so it's alright by me.
One thing I will say is SO IMPORTANT when trying to stay within a budget is to make a menu for the week and walk into the grocery store with a list! The menu enables you to write a full grocery list with everything you need to prepare each meal. The grocery list keeps you from just grabbing anything that looks good and not having complete meals, while spending too much. Really, it makes a big difference.
Another thing I do is look for coupons before I write the menu and grocery list. I am not one of those super coupon people who will buy everything according to available coupons, while I wish I could, a large majority of coupons are for boxed and packaged foods. I do however look for coupons that we will use and what coupons I find can effect what the menu for that week will be. I'm sure we could easily save money when it comes to toilet paper and paper towels, but I'm a snob when it comes to those products... I will only use Bounty paper towels and Scott's toilet paper lol. Laundry, Hygiene and Cleaning products are something else I do not buy according to what is on sale. I buy very specific products (because of skin allergies and environmental consciousness). I do seek out coupons or deals on the specific products we use though! When it comes to pasta (we only use whole wheat), apple sauce and other things like that, I buy according to which brand is cheaper.
And last, but not least... I arrange the menu so that the fresh produce that will spoil the quickest is used first. This I consider part of budgeting because if the food goes bad, you just wasted money.
I hope this is useful to someone out there!