Groceries are expensive! During the month of May, I diligently tracked every penny spent and documented my meal planning. I made a case study out of my monthly grocery budget. I am going to take a deep dive into the what and why of my personal grocery budget and I hope to give you a few tips along the way.
Since I have budgeted my grocery money for a very long time now, the amount I could spend was not any different than what I have spent in previous months. I was, though, very intentional on spending the money during the month of May, meticulously meal planning our dinners and buying on sale.
Monthly Grocery Budget – A Case Study
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Cash is King
Every Friday during the month of May, I went to the bank or ATM and got $150 cash for my grocery budget. It went into my custom made cash envelope wallet. I have used this for many years and absolutely love it!
Why only cash for groceries? My number one reason is so I stick to that budget of $150 or less. When the cash is gone, no more groceries. That is why it is so important to meal plan for our family.
Cash can help the mental game of budgeting. For me, when I withdraw money for my cash envelopes, I know that is my budget that I have to work with for the whole week.
That $150 cash is for a family of five, three teenagers and two of them boys, living in Central NY. Prices vary across the country and not one family eats the same way. I do not expect anyone to eat like this, but you can plan your spending the same way. The plan for the money is key, just the same as planning your paycheck out weekly.
Meal planning is so essential for me to stay on or below budget.
I have written before about meal planning on a budget. Ugh, the word budget. It always feels like there are limitations when talking about “budgeting”. But really, don’t think of your meal plan as limiting. Think of it as creating a plan for your food, just like you create a plan for your money.
My daughter came home from college during the second week. We were buying her groceries every week for college. That expense is gone for the summer months.
Weekly meal plans:
Saturday: Pork with potatoes and carrots in slow cooker
Sunday: Venison on grill with salad and veggies
Monday: Stir fry chicken and rice
Tuesday: Chicken parm pasta in Instant Pot
Thursday: Chicken Quesadillas
Friday: Venison on grill with potatoes and veggies
Saturday: Venison with potatoes and veggies
Sunday: Chicken at Mom’s
Monday: Pasta in instant pot
Tuesday: Ribs in Instant Pot
Thursday: Leftovers/chicken wraps
Friday: Walking Tacos
Saturday: Sausage & Peppers over Pasta,
Sunday: Chicken/Veggies/Potatoes on Grill
Monday: Chicken Parm Pasta
Wednesday: Chicken Wraps/Quesadillas
Thursday: Honey Bourbon Chicken
Friday: Hot Dogs/Hamburgers on Grill with veggies/potato
Saturday: Grilled Chicken & Veggies
Monday: Hotdogs & Hamburgers
Tuesday: Stir Fry Chicken
Wednesday: Hamburger Helper in IP
Thursday: Parm Crusted Chicken & Potatoes
Friday: Pulled Chicken BBQ Sandwiches
As you can see, I bank on leftovers once a week. Sometimes there are only three of us home instead of five for dinner.
What I bought and what I did not
Items that I did not buy during the month: paper towels, toilet paper, shampoo/conditioner, body soap, deodorant, toothpaste. I stocked up on all of this during sales at Rite Aid during January and February and my stockpile of these items will last me at least six months. If you are new to couponing and want to get started on a mini-stockpile, check out these two articles:
We have a lot of meat in our freezer. In our family of five, four are hunters, including all three of my children. I am the only one that does not hunt. Last year, between my husband and my brother in law, we were able to fill our freezer with venison. We also have panfish given to us throughout the winter from a friend who ice fishes. We are extremely blessed in this area.
I also try to buy meat on sale and stock up. I also look for clearance deals. I try to head to a few different grocery stores early in the morning and look for the markdowns. If they are in a family pack, I will separate and freeze.
Results of the Grocery Budget Case Study:
Although I was successful at staying under budget, I feel that I personally could have done better. I did not look at the sales as closely as I should have. I did not coupon much at all. I go in cycles with couponing when I really need to stock up on items. I really should scan the deals every single Sunday when I am meal planning.
During week 4, even though my total does not show it, I will admit, I blew it a little. I was not very purposeful with my spending and went to the store one day and spent like $40 in snacks and ice cream. So my lesson there is plan not only meals like dinners and lunches, but plan your snacks.
On the weekends, everyone is usually home and we graze all day until dinner time. Someone might have leftovers for breakfast.
Week 1 – 150.22
Week 2 – 139.80
Week 3 – 104.60
Week 4 – 115.30
Total – $509.92
So there you have it, my Grocery Budget Case Study for the month of May.
If you have any questions or comments, please let me know below.
A little secret here – I am developing a COURSE AROUND GROCERY BUDGETING!!!
I am so excited about this and now I am accountable to you!
What in particular would you like to see in the course? I am open to any feedback right now since this is in the development stages.