A mother and daughter reading a grocery list in the produce aisle

Grocery Shopping on a Budget

Household budgets are being stretched all around the country, and one area where people are trying to reduce costs is at the grocery store. In the quest to save money, cheap healthy meals are at the top of the list when it comes to planning out a monthly budget. If you are struggling with your weekly grocery shopping, we can help. Read on to learn more about grocery shopping on a budget.

Working Out Your Budget

Grocery budgets can change from week to week, and sometimes we need to be more frugal than others. By planning your week ahead, you can designate a daily budget and plan your shopping around the food that you have decided will fit best.

With a grocery list written down, you are less likely to impulse buy when you get to the store, so you can be confident that you will not overspend. It is important to be realistic with your budget, because we often think that our money will go much further than it does. Factor in all of the food that you need for lunch boxes, and account for people coming over (especially if you have kids and their friends to cater for on a regular basis).

It’s a good idea to take a walk around your regular grocery store to get an idea of the prices of your favorite foods, and the different prices from different brands. For some, shopping online is a great way to save money as there are no temptations when you walk down aisles full of treats.

The Benefits of Meal Planning

When it comes to grocery shopping on a budget, planning ahead is key. If you are a regular reader of family/household blogs, you will be familiar with ‘Meal Planning Monday,' a trend among busy parents that alleviates the stress of weekly shopping and cooking.

The idea is that you spend time at the beginning of the week to plan what food to buy according to your budget, and what to cook according to how much time you have each evening. There are lots of meal planning templates that you can download and use. They will help keep you focused and stress-free for the week ahead.

Meal planning is also a great way to stay healthy and ensure that you eat a wide variety of foods. Planning means that you can add all the essential food groups to your weekly diet, and you will have ingredients at hand for healthy meals rather than grabbing for the takeout menu.

Making a Healthy Grocery List on a Budget

While it is true that a lot of cheap food is unhealthy, there are plenty of grocery store items that are good for the body and easy on the wallet. To get into the habit of writing affordable grocery lists, turn to these five tips to help you achieve your goal:

Consider Frozen Foods

Many fruits and vegetables that are frozen lock in both taste and nutrients. Keeping these items frozen also means less waste if you are fed up of throwing out rotten food. A lot of frozen foods are cheaper than fresh food too but be careful not to buy too much processed food.

Buy in Bulk

Bulk buying items such as toilet paper and cleaning products can save you money, as can purchasing dry foods. Be careful not to buy too much food at once though, as you may risk running past best-before dates.

Reduce Your Meat Intake

As well as saving money, reducing the amount of meat you buy will benefit your health. Red meat has been linked to diseases such as cancer and heart disease, so having a few meat-free days every week will be kind on your body and your wallet.

Get Creative in the Kitchen

We mentioned earlier that grocery shopping on a budget will get those creative juices flowing. Instead of spending lots of money on pre-cooked foods you can buy raw ingredients for a much lower price and have fun learning to cook new dishes.

Cut Down on Snacks

Grocery stores are very sneaky when it comes to advertising snacks at discount prices, but in the long run, we end up buying more and more just to satisfy our cravings. When we eat overly processed food we are often eating empty calories and are hungry again sooner than we should be. Replace these snacks with large bags of fruit from your local farmer’s market instead, as it is often cheaper.

Basic Grocery List for Families

A typical grocery list will include these staple items:

  • Bread
  • Pasta
  • Rice
  • Breakfast cereals
  • Cooking oil
  • Cheese
  • Eggs
  • Milk
  • Butter
  • Canned tomatoes
  • Canned beans/legumes
  • All-purpose flour
  • Meat
  • Fish
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Herbs and spices
  • Stock cubes
  • Fruit
  • Vegetables

Be sure to budget for these necessities, as well as whatever else you and your family needs. The more you practice planning in advance, the easier it will get to follow your budget.