Here are part 1 and part 2 of how to plan your monthly grocery budget if you’ve missed.
Now that you have both your budget and grocery list ready, let’s look at how to stick to the budget when we are in the store.
Limit Your Grocery Store Visits:
For those of you living in India, majority of the shops carry all the grocery items in one store. If so, try to shop all your items in one store. For NRIs, unfortunately multiple store visits are mostly required. For Indian groceries, Indian grocery stores; AND for other items, local grocery stores and bulk merchandise stores such as Costco.
Below is what I follow (This is just to give you an example. There are no hard rules here. Do what works for your family):
Indian grocery store visit – once every 2-3 weeks. I buy the vegetables in bulk, cut, and freeze them for later use
Local grocery store – once a week as we consume a fair amount of milk and fruits
- Bulk merchandise store (Costco) – once every 3 weeks
The more stores you visit, the more you spend AND the more time you visits, the more you spend as well.
Things To Consider When Grocery Shopping:
- Before going to the store, write down how much money is left in your grocery budget. I open my Mint.com budgeting app and check the $ left in grocery budget
- Print out the grocery list or open your list in the phone before you start shopping
- Strike the items in your list as soon as you put them in the cart
- Make sure your grocery list is thorough such that you don’t have to buy anything outside of your grocery list
- Always have wiggle room for 1-2 extra items in the budget. Sometimes we come across a product in clearance section that we would anyway need to buy in full price
- Once you’re done with shopping and ready to bill the items, recheck the items in the cart and see if you have anything that’s not needed
- When you have only 20% of the budget left at the end of the month, put an emergency break and buy ONLY the necessary items. For example, when I hit the last $50, I’ll go on HOLD mode. We will buy only the necessary items such as banana, milk until the end of the month and I alone go for all grocery shopping because I don’t believe that my Dude would come out of grocery store without picking an extra item 🙂
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- Buy all the bulk foods such as rice bags, wheat flour etc at the starting of the month. That way if your budget get smaller at the end of the month, you don’t have to worry about bulk expenses.
- Buying everything in bulk-merchandise stores such as Costco doesn’t always save money. I do this mistake more often than I should. For example, I bought 3 cantaloupe pack for ~$6 couple of weeks back and they started going bad in couple of days. I ended up throwing one that went bad.
- Stick an notepad in the fridge and write down the cost of your wasted products. In my above Cantaloupe example, I wasted ~$2 by buying them in bulk. I noted that $2 in the notepad and keep noting down the $$ of items I wasted that month. This gives a picture of our total waste in that month and how much money we should have saved by avoiding the waste.
- Last but not least, if you’re in US, make use of cash back apps to get some cash backs for your recent purchases. These are free apps that pay you money for everyday purchases. All you need to do it check if any of your purchased items are eligible for cash back, scan the item, scan the receipt and you’re good to go. It takes me hardly 5 minutes to do it.
IBOTTA (Use this link or my referral code gjheew to earn extra $10), Checkout 51, and BerryCart are some of the apps I use for cash backs.
How to plan your monthly grocery budget series: