Every family I know of struggles with their grocery budget. All of us make our family’s nutrition a priority, and eating healthy seems impossible to do on a budget. I hear “eating well is so expensive!” all the time. I have a surprise for y’all: we eat 80% paleo/organic/vegetarian for around $70 a week with a family of 3 in San Diego. So how do we do it? I’ve outlined 7 basic strategies for you to implement with your own grocery budget.

  1. Eat Before you shop! Laugh all you want, but we all know going hungry to the market will result in lots of impulse buys. Grab a fulfilling snack, drink a glass or two of water, and then venture into the grocery store. This will also help with your sanity levels if you’ve got kids in tow. Low blood sugar & hangry mommy will throw those extra snacks in the cart to appease the grabby hands and whiny babies.
  2. Clean Out your fridge + take inventory “Do we have butter? I can’t remember. I’ll grab some just in case.” Now you have 2 pounds of butter in your fridge, when a pound will get you through the month. Take the 10 minutes to take an inventory of what you have. As you get more comfortable with meal planning, you’ll start to notice this will be a step you can almost eliminate. Read our previous post discussing why food waste is a real problem and how meal planning solves that.
  3. Get the Sale Ad + make a list I don’t know about you, but I usually can’t remember what day it is. Forget trying to remember everything I need to buy at the store. Most grocery retailers will have their weekly sale ads available online, or you can stick it on your fridge when it comes in the mail. Stick to what’s on sale and go with a list.
  4. Shop in-season produce This ties in with #3. In-season will typically mean on-sale. This will accomplish more than your budget goal – you’ll be increasing the variety of foods your family eats (more variety = more nutritional value), and supporting more localized & ethical  farming practices.
  5. Compare price per ounce Sometimes that Costco bargain isn’t really a bargain. Don’t get me wrong, Costco is the number one distributor of organic foods, and our family snags some great deals there. But comparing price per ounce can really save you from the fake sale trap.
  6. Make recipes based on your list The biggest mistake I see people making when structuring their grocery budget is picking recipes, and then purchasing everything needed for said recipes. Do not do this. Pick meals and snacks for the week based on the sale ad!
  7. Stock Up on Sale Items Everyone has foods they eat frequently. My toddler loves the Applegate breakfast sausages, so when I see them on sale, I buy several boxes. This is also a great option for dry goods, like rice. $0.69/lb for white rice? I’ll take 5lbs, please. Your weekly grocery budget may seem inflated with these maneuvers, but you’ll save money in the long run.

That just about does it for us. What are some tips you’ve found work best for you? Share your best grocery shopping tricks with us!

Go forth, and crunch!