If there's one way that budgets tend to get eaten up (and not just literally), it's the cost of monthly groceries. After all, it's simple to slip up at the grocery store or market. Sometimes shoppers are heading into pick up dinner after a long day at work, with blood sugar low. This can lead to impulse buys or the kind of frustration that leads to simply grabbing items without paying attention to budgets or shopping lists. And these are the kind of moments that throw the whole budget off for the month. Others end up spending more on groceries by opting for a couple of nights of take-out that aren't very sustaining, and then spending more on core ingredients to make up for it over the course of a couple of days.
The first step towards a better budget where food is concerned is to be serious about the amount of money that's available to spend on groceries. The easiest way to waste money is to not have a concrete number that can be spent on something, and making a concrete number for groceries immediately provides for the outline of a budget. Saving money on groceries is considerably easier once there is a ballpark figure in the picture, rather than a percentage of income.
Start by making a weekly budget, as it's often easier than handling the logistics for an entire month.
While handling the allotted amount of money for food, remember to include the costs of daily and weekly necessities in the cost of groceries, as the same supplies are often bought at the same stores. This should include cleaning supplies, toilet paper, toothpaste, and laundry detergent. If you're already feeling overwhelmed with the concept of a budget to begin with, keep these different items on the same list, but in a different column. This helps for better mental organization.
Getting organized is only the beginning to saving money on groceries, though. The next step is figuring out craftier ways to shop. Those households where someone is a member of clubs like Sam's and Costco might consider the benefits of buying in bulk. After all, buying in bulk provides the chance to spend less on commonly used ingredients and ultimately get more of them. Just don't get so excited about the possibilities of buying in bulk that you overspend on stocking up too much--there's not much that a household can do with gigantic boxes of granola bars and bags of flour when there's no money for anything else!
Switching to generic brands and moving away from big-box grocery stores can also sometimes save money, too. If there are local farmers’ markets, it's possible to get fresher produce for less than the local grocery store sometimes, and starting one's own garden if there is enough space can be a great way to save some money while also enjoying better produce. Generic brands often cost less than those that are sought-after, and the difference in ingredients is usually quite minimal or nonexistent. Aside from actually establishing a budget, figuring out that switching brands doesn't mean sacrificing quality in many instances is the most important thing that shoppers can to do save money.
About the Author: Victoria Crowdell loves creating articles to help people with day-to-day life. She writes on a variety of subjects including DIY, fitness and credit control, and wishes she was a bit better at practicing what she preaches on all three counts.