As food prices continue to climb, budgeting your monthly food budget can be extremely difficult. Luckily for you, I’ve discovered seven tips and tricks on how you can keep your weekly food budget under $100. These seven tips will help your family save money and increase your emergency funds.
2020 COVID-19 was a wake-up call for my family. We learned that we had to save money and lower our grocery budget because we were facing so many uncertainties. We spent too much money on groceries, and that is where most of our funds were going. From following these tips, we were able to save money and increase our emergency savings. Through good budgeting, we learned how to save money and still be able to eat good healthy food.
Disclaimer: This method works better if you already have an adequate supply of home essentials to begin with; for example, you already have things like toilet paper and detergent, so you don’t have to buy everything all at once and go over your budget.
1- Know your monthly grocery budget, break it into a weekly budget, and stick to it.
First and most importantly, know your monthly grocery budget, break it into a weekly budget, and stick to it.
Jordan Page from funcheaporfree.com says: “The standard I’ve always suggested is $100 per person in your family per month. Whether it’s a newborn, a teenager, or an adult, each person living in your house gets that same $100 every month. This starts at $300, so whether you’ve got 1, 2, or 3 people living at home, you still have $300 for the month. If you have a family of 4, then your grocery budget for the month is $400.” You can read more about her fantastic budgeting tips here.
For our family of seven: we give $100 per person per month regardless of their age. So for our family, that will be $700 per month… $700 is our family’s monthly budget.
How to break your monthly budget into a weekly budget
Now, once you have set and understand your family budget, you break it down by week, not by month. So we take our $700 grocery budget and divide it by however many weeks there are in the month. If that month has four weeks, then we end up with $175 per week.
Knowing that our weekly grocery budget is $175 helps us to stick to our budget no matter what.
However, I find that $175 is still too much for our family. So I use the $100 for food only; I use the $75 for non-food items such as laundry detergent, cleaning supplies, paper towels, etc. And since I do not need to buy those non-food items every week, I usually save that money to stock up on all my non-food items because they can be pretty expensive.
But if your budget is $100 per week, you can still use that to purchase your non-food items and food. Just start with buying what you really need the most for the home, not what you want. If toilet papers are what you need the most, buy that, but if it’s something like air freshener, that can wait until you have more money. Like I mentioned in my disclaimer above, this method works best if you already have something to begin with at home, not starting from scratch. Most of us already have something to start with at home, except if you are newly married or a brand new college student.
2- Meal plan
So, meal planning is so essential if you want to stick to your budget. Keeping your food bill under $100 will be so difficult without proper preparation.
I always start my meal plan by doing inventory for everything I have in the fridge, freezer, and pantry. That way, I can see what I have on hand, and I can create recipes from what I already have, not what I don’t have. Start with the fridge because that is where food will first go bad.
So when I go shopping, I know exactly what I need to buy and what I need to supplement the recipes that I will be making. I save so much money this way. I highly recommend making a grocery list before you go shopping.
How do you meal plan using what you already have on hand?
Let’s say that I have a frozen chicken breast; I can create lots of recipes from that, like this easy chicken curry or this easy chicken Alfredo with store-bought sauce. Or you can barbecue it like this bbq chicken kebabs; there are so many recipes you can create. Or let’s say that you have some rice, you can make this restaurant-style fried rice.
Or if you have some potatoes, you can create all sorts of recipes with potatoes. Then write down first the recipes that your family eats and loves to prevent food waste, then set a day in the week to cook a brand new recipe and keep that recipe if your family loved it.
After that, write down every recipe idea you want to make in a calendar; start with a two-week meal calendar first so you won’t be overwhelmed.
Grab your free fridge, freezer, and pantry printables below to make your life easier.
3- Only go shopping once a week, no matter what; then only buy what's on sale and in season
Shopping once a week and sticking to one or two stores where things are affordable will help you save tons of money. Not only will this prevent you from impulse buying, but it will save you on gas and time.
Rather than running to the store for one thing, substitute a missing ingredient for something else. If you don’t have enough ingredients to create a specific recipe, then make a different recipe. Leave that recipe for when you have all the ingredients.
Hence, only go when it’s an emergency, such as needing baby formulas, diapers, or medicine.
4- Only buy what's on sale and in-season to save more money:
When fruits and veggies are in-season, they are much cheaper, and they tend to go on sale, so you can save money by purchasing them.
How to do this: first, look online for the store ads and compare prices. If things are cheap, buy 2-3 extras to stock up slowly. Do not stock up too fast. (This will help you to stay within your budget).
Next, watch your budget and beware of the type of discounts that the store has. If they have the buy three-get-three free kind of deals, those prices are usually doubled, so watch out for that.
And lastly, practice knowing your food prices; that way you know if things are expensive or cheap. It will help you a lot in the long run!
5- Order your groceries online to save even more money
I love ordering my groceries online because I do not have to get out of my house and get ready. I can shop while still in my pajamas, sitting on the couch, and I do not have to drag my kids and daycare kids with me to the store. And with this COVID-19 thing going on, ordering my groceries online is a perfect option for me.
Pretty much all grocery stores do online grocery pickup/delivery nowadays if you are in the US. Just pick your favorite store and shop away, but keep in mind your weekly budget.
The best thing about ordering your groceries online is that it makes it so easy to stay within your budget, it saves you from impulse buying, and makes it easy to see and remove things from your cart if you have too much. It’s hard to do that when you are at the store in person. And you can track your spending and what you’ve bought by looking at your previous purchases. I really like that part!
You can use food stamps to buy groceries online.
Did you know that you can now use an EBT card or food stamp card to order groceries online if you are in the food assistance program? Yes, which is so amazing! Now everyone can enjoy ordering groceries online.
Click here for the lists of grocery stores that accept EBT online. Make sure to call the store first before putting an order just in case they do not accept food stamps, that way you don’t waste your time.
If you choose to have your groceries delivered to your home, you have to pay the delivery fee, and it is not included in the food stamp money.
6- don't buy meat and non-consumables at the same time
Don’t buy meat and non-consumables at once because it can be expensive and can take up a pretty big chunk of your budget, especially when they’re not on sale. So my trick is that I wait for when the meat is on sale or buy them when their price is marked down. You know the price is marked down when you see yellow stickers on them like the pictures below. Usually, you can get the meat for 50% off or even 75% or more. But observe the price tags; the stores now put yellow stickers on the meat even if they are not on sale to make them look like they are cheap, so be careful!
Stores will lower the price of the meat when they’re closer to their expiration date. There is nothing wrong with meat that is close to its expiration date; you just need to cook it immediately or freeze them. The store needs to make ways for new products, so they sell the meat for very cheap. It’s the perfect way to stock up your freezer with meat.
Wait for the week after to purchase your non-consumables so that you won’t go over budget if you bought lots of meat.
Below are the pictures of meat that are discounted with the yellow stickers:
7- Do not use your food budget to buy food at a wholesale store yet
Buying in bulk at a wholesale store can save you money, but it can also suck your budget so fast without you knowing it and you will go over your budget.
If you are new to budgeting and want to stick to your weekly budget, keep away from wholesale stores at first, then once you get used to budgeting, you can shop wholesale.
I love stores like Costco; in fact, I shop at Costco a lot. That’s where I buy most of my non-food items, such as toilet paper, paper towels, laundry detergent, dish soap, etc. but I try not buy my food there… If I used my food budget at Costco, my money would disappear so fast. So I stick to my local grocery stores – they’re cheaper, plus I earn points for every dollar that I spend, and I save those points to use on gas… but, that’s another discussion for another time, though.
It takes lots of self-discipline shopping at a wholesale store; I am not good at it, so if you are a person like me who want to keep your budget under $100, then buy your food at your local grocery store and always watch your budget carefully if you do shop at stores like Costco!
Don't give up on your budget
Budgeting can be difficult at the beginning but don’t give up. It requires discipline and self-control, but once you get the hang of it, it can actually be easy and fun for you to manage your family budget once you get it down. Do not stop right away if it is hard; try it for at least a month, then you can stop if it is not the right fit for your family, but you have to try it before you can get results. Just think of all the fantastic things that can happen if you can save money. These methods really worked for our family, and I hope they can work for your family too.
What do you guys do to save money on groceries? And did you find this post helpful? Please drop your comments below; I want to know your thoughts? Thanks!