One of the top questions I get asked is “How much should my grocery budget be?” and I reply, “How much are your current monthly grocery costs?”
Before determining your grocery budget it’s important to know what your current situation is costing you.
Most often my question goes unanswered or I get a response of “I don’t know” because for some consumers grocery shopping is simply buying food for the week and paying the bill.
Unfortunately budgeting and frugality are not normally part of the shopping trip until it becomes necessary for some people. Don’t make this be you.
A food budget should be essential for everyone unless you have unlimited income where money is of no object to you. Not many of us reading the blog are that fortunate I’m afraid.
Typical grocery costs per month will differ from person to person depending on many factors such as size of the family, income level, health and special diets and so on. You can read all about that in the post I linked above.
Currently it’s high-season for budgets now that new year has arrived and people want to get back on track financially or they’ve set goals for the year to pay off debt. The blog is busting with people looking for answers about food costs and budgeting which happens every year. Although I do my best to answer every email or message I get sometimes it’s easier to just write about what the majority of readers are asking me.
I do my best to explain how we budget and what we did to arrive at our current numbers so the readers will have some sort of benchmark idea of what to do. I’m not saying our way is perfect but it has worked for us and contributed to helping us pay off our mortgage in 5 years.
A typical months grocery expenses for our household is $235 for 2 people and a toddler plus a $25 stockpile budget. Although this may seem like a tight budget to you remember it depends on many factors all of which should pertain to your situation. Even then this years budget may not work for us with price increases across the board which means we will have to review our situation before it gets out of hand.
Before you can start any type of grocery budget I’m going to share with you a few things you should do in order to be a successful shopper.
How did we come up with our grocery budget?
Over the years we have learned so much about grocery budgets and shopping in general that I wonder why more people don’t invest a bit more time learning how to save more money on groceries. With the prices of groceries slated to go up this year many of you have told me that it’s time to buckle down and get serious with your grocery budget.
I don’t blame you one bit.
Document your monthly grocery costs
If you don’t know what you are currently spending at the grocery store every month the first thing you need to do is document. We did this and realized we were spending far too much money on food even though we thought we were saving money using coupons.
Even if you are on a fixed income you need to know how much money you can spend freely without going into debt. No one wants to create debt buying food or even pay interest on a credit card because you are spending more than you can afford.
Take a month to document everything you buy at the grocery store on a typical shop without thinking about money unless you already have a set amount to spend. You might not even know if that amount is enough money but you will know when you’ve done these exercises.
Keep in mind the monthly food total that you get will be an average grocery cost because there may be some months that you spend more money to buy those one-off items. You know when you run out of ketchup or horseradish. Stuff like that.
Typing out your weekly grocery shop and reviewing what you are buying including the prices will give you a estimate of just how much your monthly grocery costs are. You may or may not be shocked by this number but if you are shocked it’s imperative that you get on a grocery budget that works in your favour.
I’ve chatted to many fans over the years who said they couldn’t believe they were spending $1200 a month on groceries for their small family. One reader even wrote a blog post for CBB to share just how she cut her grocery budget from $1100 a month to $600 in just 6 months. This post is very popular which leads me to believe that many people are struggling with their expenses and want to learn how to make changes. This is good news.
This is what we did to figure out just how much money we needed to save each month for food after we got paid.
You can’t complain about the cost of food if you aren’t budgeting or at least know the exact amount you can spend on monthly food costs. If you just go to the grocery store and spend money and complain that you aren’t buying much maybe you should review the way you grocery shop and how to get more out of your money.
Once you find out how much your monthly grocery costs are you need to figure out if you should add more to your grocery budget allowance or spend less. Typically I would track expenses for 2-3 months to get the best idea but if you are time-strapped then one month will do.
If you can pull off a year of documenting your monthly grocery costs you will have an even better number for the start of the year. Even then, prices change so it’s just an estimate but certainly a number that’s worth it’s weigh in gold when it comes to you financial health.
If you have no idea what your monthly grocery allowance is because you don’t budget I would suggest downloading my free budget or finding a budget that works for you. It takes no time at all to fill in a budget which will give you numbers that will change your financial life if you stick with it.
By now you should know how much you can afford to spend at the grocery store.
What should you do next?
Learning about your shopping expenses
If you found that you were spending too much money on groceries during your one month of documenting monthly grocery costs I would recommend that you continue to document your shops. Posting your shops in the grocery game challenge is a great way to see how much you are spending, interact with a team of savers and potentially win a PC Gift Card to cut down on food expenses on your next shop.
Alternatively just track what you are buying at home just so you know. Not knowing is like pulling the covers over your budget and telling it to do what it wants. That always ends bad or costs you money you could have saved towards retirement or to put towards your education, debt or other life goals.
If you only want to find out how much money you’re spending on food every month all you need to do is document what you are spending on food. It’s that easy. Some people like to split their grocery category into a few categories like Food, Pet, Health and Beauty and Cleaning supplies. The reason behind this is so they can track just how much they are spending in each category to give them a more accurate number. This is what we chose to do a couple of years back and it has worked out great for us.
So before you do a search online about how much you think your grocery budget should be realize that the only way you are going to find out is by doing research on your own spending habits and by using a budget. Even trying to estimate or use budget costs that other families use will never work. Every situation is different.
It’s true that it’s easier to say that food is costing you more money and you just keep on paying for it but when you realize just how much you can save you’ll never turn back. If you don’t care, you wouldn’t be here right now so don’t click x and leave, read my Ultimate Grocery Guide and start saving money today.
How did you first find out how much you were really spending on groceries before you started to use a budget?
January Grocery Game Challenge posts 2016
Join in the 2016 Grocery Game Challenge (GGC) fun and post your grocery shop in the comment section of each GGC blog post. Here are the rules to get you started and where you’ll also find a link for the updated 2016 GGC schedule. Please feel free to download, save and even print the schedule so it’s handy. Thanks to Mary for putting this together for us again this year. If you need any help please let me know.
New monthly prize: $10 President’s Choice Gift Card for Canadian residents only BUT If you want to play from outside of Canada and have PayPal and you win I will pay you $10CDN. I use a random online generator to pick the winning ballot every month.
If you missed any grocery game posts for the month I will post the line-up each week here for you so you don’t have to go looking for past GGC posts for the month. This makes posting a bit easier although all you need to do is click on The Grocery Game Challenge on the homepage sidebar and you will see them all.
Free Money Saving Tools 2016
I know I blast you every which way I can on this blog about my free money saving tools and that’s because I want you to take advantage of them being FREE. So many people pay for budgets and tools on the internet to help them save money and honestly you don’t need to. Even a paper and pen will do the trick.
Click, Save and Print. It’s that easy!
This is the budget that brought us to debt freedom back in 2013 and now I’m offering to all of you for FREE. We still use this budget every month as it helps us to see our overall financial picture.
You can download the FREE Canadian Budget Binder Budget Spreadsheet in Excel…Grab it while you can… It’s FREE! We use it to budget and in large part a reason we could pay our mortgage off in 5 years, check it out!
Free Money Saving Downloads are awesome lists that were created to get us on track to work towards reaching our budgeting goals and now we are sharing them with you.
Get organized with a FREE freezer inventory, meal plan, shopping list, price comparison list and much more all for FREE.
CLICK HERE to download all the free lists and even our family budget spreadsheet. So many free resources at your fingertips.
Ultimate Grocery Shopping Guide 2016
The Ultimate Grocery Shopping guide is ongoing with new informative money-saving posts added every month.
Even if you don’t live in Canada there are some amazing budget saving tips that will help put you on the path to more savings at the supermarket.
Share this guide with your friends and tell them about Canadian Budget Binder especially if they are struggling with their grocery budget.
The time is NOW to get started saving money on groceries so please enjoy the many money-saving posts in the The Ultimate Grocery Shopping Guide.
2016 Grocery Shop Results
Yearly grocery budget for two + 1 Toddler 2016: $2820
(The above total does not include the stockpile budget of $300/year or $25/month.
Points Overview (add any other sections you need to show us your savings)
- Total Grocery Budget for the Month:$235.00
- Total Grocery Budget with any carry-overs $0
- Total Gift Cards used to date: $0
- Total Rewards Points redeemed this week: $0
- Total Rewards Points used to date: $0
- PC Points Plus Earned to date: 56670
- Scanning Code of Practice (SCOP)to date $0
- Shoppers Optimum: Over 700,000 points ( I will update this twice a year)
Coupon Apps (add any other apps you use to save money)
- Snap Groupon to cash out: $40.00
- Zweet to cash out : $18.25
- Checkout51 to cash out : $7.00
Grocery Shop This Week
- 4 x Tasters Choice Coffee Sale $3.97 stockpile
- 4 x Condensed milk Sale $1.88
- NN black Olives $1.00
- PC Ranch dressing $1.88
- 2X 1KG beef ravioli $2 ea
- 2 x 1KG meat tortellini $2 ea
- 2 x 5pk avocado Sale $2.47 ea
- Bananas $2.09 plus 400 PC Plus points
- 2 x pineapple Sale $2 ea
- 2 x large cream cheese Philadelphia $3.00 ea
Total out-of-pocket $35.43 plus $15.88 to stockpile budget for coffee
- Green onions $0.99
- Cucumber $1.29
- Ham Sale $4.99
- 2 x Gnocchi Sale $0.99
- Boxed mixed greens $3.00
- Boxed Spinach $3.00
Total out-of-pocket $15.25
- 2% Milk $3.97
- Homo Milk $4.97
- 10lb potatoes Sale $1.88
- Strawberries Sale 2/$5
- Astro Yogurt Sale $2
- 2x Cream 10% Sale $3
- PC Mayo $4.99-50%= $2.50
- PC Creamy Vanilla Yogurt $3.49-50%= $1.75
- 1lb PC mushrooms $4.69-50%=$2.35
- 2 x PC Bacon Sale $3.99 ea
- PC Pepper Bacon 1lb $6.99-50%=$3.50
- 2 x D’Italiano Bread $3.89 each-50%= $3.90
- 15 x PC Forest Salami Reg $5.99 each Blowout $0.50 plus 1 SCOP $0.50 +1400 PC Plus Points (stockpile) $7.00
- 4 x PC Onion Mushroom Burgers $12.99 ea-50%= $26.00 + 5000 PC Plus Points
Under baby we got a great deal on formula 4 cans of Enfamil A+ Vanilla $19.99-50%-$5 coupons- 1 x $5 coupon app… so out of pocket before taxes we paid $15 for $80 worth of formula. 🙂
Total Out-of-Pocket: $71.80
- Total to spend this month $235.00
- Stockpile budget 2016 ($25.00):$0
- Stockpile budget used this month: $15.88+$7.00=$22.88
- Total coupons used this week: $0
- Total coupons used to date: $0
- Total in-store discounts this week:$128.10
- Total in-store discounts to date: $128.10
- Total spent this week: $62.49+$122.56=$185.05
- Total spent so far this month: $185.05
- Total over/Under spend this shop: over
- Total over/Under spend for the month: N/A so far
- Total left to spend for the month: $49.95
- Total Spent To Date 2016: (does not include stockpile budget) Jan $
Weekly Overview (your final thoughts)
We spent quite a bit this shop and it was because we went into Zehrs and were hit with pink stickers everywhere. The deals were too good to pass up especially that salami which was reg $5.99 each. It tastes so good and it’s great for lunches.
With limited money left for the month we will have to get creative. We will need to buy milk which will eat up at least $17.94 of $49.95 and the rest will strictly go to veg and fruit. We can do this!! Although we had a grocery list we failed this shop terribly because of in-store sales. Just look at the in-store discount already for the first month of the year.
Canadian Coupons 2016
Here are some great places you can find Canadian Coupons! These are your latest Checkout 51 offers which you can use to help save money. We’re finding less and less coupons in the stores these days. What are your thoughts? Are coupon apps taking over the paper coupons?
If you buy chicken from Flamingo that $5 coupon is sweet!! The chicken goes on sale regularly so may even score a freebie.
Grocery Game Challenge 2016 FAQ’s
- Grocery Game Challenge RULES: Read the rules first and if you have any questions email me or comment on this post with your question and someone will answer you as soon as possible. The rules have been updated for the 2016 challenge year.
- Do I have to be Canadian to post my Grocery Shop?: No, you don’t have to be Canadian to post your shops. We have fans who post their grocery shop who live all over the world.
- What is the monthly prize and who can claim it?- The monthly prize is a $10 PC Loblaws Gift Card and for our out of country friends it’s $10 CDN via Paypal if they win. As more people join I will add more money to the gift card or I will split it up and offer 2 prizes every month.
- When does the Grocery Game close each month?: The Grocery Game Challenge closes at midnight of the last Sunday of the last post for the month but you will still get a ballot when you post your shops even if they are late but I encourage you to stay on schedule. If you choose to post monthly or bi-weekly you will only get 1 ballot for that shop. It’s a proven fact the minute we stop doing something that is scheduled that we end up forgetting to do it altogether. Don’t let that be you! You can post your shops all month-long.
- Does your Grocery Budget include health and beauty and laundry products?: No, our Grocery Budget includes such items as shampoo, conditioner, laundry soap, fabric softener, dish soap etc. As of 2014-2015 we no longer include such items in our grocery budget so we can see actual food numbers at the end of the year in order to plan accordingly our budget.
- Do you stockpile food? We don’t mind stockpiling items that won’t be affected by expiry dates or have long expiry dates but not so much food any longer as we found we weren’t eating it fast enough. Stockpiling is still great and just one way to help cut your budget to save money if you do find items that you can buy in bulk at a sale price.
- Canadian Coupons:Where can I find Canadian Coupons?: Here are your latest Checkout 51 offers that you can use to help you save money in the Grocery Game Challenge. There are many great Canadian Couponing websites online that share weekly coupon match-ups so you can plan your grocery list.
- Best Coupon Apps: Coupons are slowly fading with mobile coupon apps being the big rave these days. Just recently the popular coupon site Save.ca that mailed coupons to households has gotten involved with the addition of a new mobile Save.ca app joining forces with the many other coupon apps available. If you find an app that I don’t talk about please let me know as they are always being added and I’d like to review them.
- What is the Best Flyer App- We use Flipp on our Iphone so if you wan to have all your flyers in one spot download Flipp from the Apple Store or get it on Google Play.
- What is an FPC?: An FPC is a free product coupon which means you can get a free product as described on the coupon.
- What is GGC?– The Grocery Game Challenge of course!
- How Do I Know what stores accept coupons?: If you are not sure it’s always best to call the store and ask.
- How Do I Grocery Shop?: I can tell you about grocery shopping and what we do in terms of shopping to save money and how it works for us. There are no wrong or right answers, just smart choices.
Nobody is perfect, heck we struggle with this part of our budget like many people do. This is why the grocery game challenge was created back in 2012 and is one of the most popular hang out spots for people who want to save money on groceries in Canada.
If you’ve just joined The Grocery Game Challenge 2016 get ready to examine your grocery budget by learning…
- Where you are spending money
- How much money you are spending
- How much money you are saving every month
If you want to learn everything I know about grocery shopping in Canada check out my Ultimate Grocery Shopping Guide! It’s FREE!
If you know a topic that should be discussed send me an email. If I use your topic I will put your name in a draw for a prize at the end of the year.
You’ve made a wise decision to take control of your grocery budget now show me your shops and let’s get saving!
Welcome to The Grocery Game Challenge 2016!
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