My Monthly Grocery Budget: Part 1

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grocery budgets

Setting a Grocery Budget

People are always asking about my grocery budget so I decided to put it out there to answer some questions you might have. This is my personal budget and I think every budget will vary. There are so many factors to consider- your income, your food choices, where you live, what is in season, if you live in a competitive market, costs of getting groceries (gas, distance to store for savings), how you cook and many more nuances. I can share with you my ideas and then use your own information to figure out what is best for you. This is my introduction post to setting a budget so it’s mostly the background story of my options here and what I buy. My next post will share more details for each of the items mentioned below.  My total grocery budget for the month is $480 or around $120 per week and this is buying mostly organic, natural or local items.

First of all, let me tell you about my family. The size of your family makes a big difference! In my family, we have myself, my husband and two boys- one preschooler and one toddler. They are both BIG eaters.  Our meals consist of breakfast for everyone (with coffee for grown-ups, of course!), packed lunch for my husband each weekday (lunch for all on weekends), packed lunch for my son on school days and at home other days, lunch for myself and whoever is home during the week, snacks for the boys and dinner for all each night.

Another big factor is your grocery store situation. I live in Chicago, which is a bit pricier for groceries than smaller cities or towns.  We also don’t have the huge stores like Meijer or Wal-mart. We do have Jewel (Albertsons), Dominick’s (Safeway), Super Target and relatively recently we got a store that is a division of Roundy’s called Mariano’s. We do not have a competitive coupon market so no doubled coupons.

My food philosophy plays a role in our budget as well. I commit a certain amount of my budget to my weekly farmer’s market and that is where most of my produce comes from. I try and buy as much organic or local produce as possible. I would say that my family eats about 75% organic. Non-organic items that we eat are some local foods (I know where it comes from but it is not certified organic), some cereals we like and a few other things that I am okay with being non-organic, like bananas.

For meat, we stick pretty strictly to organic, grass-fed and/or local products. This is a big chunk of our budget but I am okay with it. I look for deals at organic stores (like Whole Foods one-day sales) and stock up and freeze meat or fish when I find a great deal. We also eat less meat, having several non-meat meals throughout the week.

For dairy products, I always buy organic milk and eggs. Some cheese I buy is non-organic and yogurt that I buy is not always organic.

The stores I shop at on a regular basis are Target, Dominick’s/Safeway, Trader Joes, Whole Foods and Walgreens. Most of my budget is for our monthly food needs but a portion definitely goes to stocking my cabinet. When I find great deals, I stock up! We live in a condo in the city so my storage space is not immense so I am limited in that respect as to how much I can purchase to store until I need it.

My grocery budget is strictly for food and beverages. I have a separate budget for household items (it’s very small) like paper towels, toilet paper and toiletries.

My next post on this topic will share the details of how I break down my budget into the categories mentioned above.  We use an excel spreadsheet to track our spending each month so I always know where I stand with the budget. We have many different line items so this is just one of them that I wanted to share with you to explain how I use my grocery budget. I’ll share with you what I buy, where I buy it and how it all adds up to the $480 per month that we spend on groceries. I hope you find this post helpful and I am happy to answer any questions you might have!

 

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