IF YOU ARE STRUGGLING TO FIND SPACE TO STORE MORE FOOD OR RUNNING OUT YOU MAY NEED TO RE-ADJUST YOUR GROCERY EXPENSES.
Your grocery expenses may be something you’ve been thinking about lately with rising costs in just about every budget category this year. Who’s going to want our money next? It’s best to always be prepared even if that means making sure you have a stocked pantry but not overflowing.
In the meantime I’m going to show you just how you can figure out your grocery expenses to find out whether you need to increase or decrease them.
You either have too much food, too little food or just enough with a back-up plan. These are two situations that everyone runs into every week unless they have figured out their food plan. Should you shop or call it a no-shop week? The choice is yours but your best indicator is your grocery budget and what you’ve already got at home.
One of the most important aspects of food shopping is to create a balance between what you need to eat and how much you do eat. This will give you a better sign just how much food you need to buy each time you grocery shop so you’re not buying more than you can consume.
If you’ve created a food budget and you’ve allocated $300 a month for 2 adults and spend $300 a month every month with food waste you’re likely spending too much. Circumstances prevail however if this is happening on a recurring basis then you may be off-balance with your monthly grocery budget.
There are ways you can still make the $300 budget work but that doesn’t mean you have to spend it all. One of the topics I will discuss today is having a reserve fund or a stockpile budget. They are similar in ways but different.
Building a reserve fund can be part of your projected expenses for the year where you divide so much every month to make special purchases. Reserves are cash-based systems.
For example: If you know you want to buy a side of beef for $500 then each month you need to save x amount of dollars up until the date you want to purchase it.
Mary is a Grocery Game Star and has mastered the reserve fund which is where I was first introduced to it.
I have discontinued using a stockpile budget this year because I have four different reserves that I am funding and really $190 only goes so far.
I am heavily committed to using what is in the pantry and freezers first this year so at some point, that Re-Stocking Reserve will be very useful. It makes sense to circulate what you already have and save for when you absolutely need it.
I am getting more and more of the mind that cash is king in an emergency so I’d rather have cold hard cash in the bank if I need it rather than a pile of food. I can buy the food, if as and when I actually need it, if I save the cash.- Mary C
A stockpile budget is also built into the monthly budget where you allow x amount of dollars to be spent only if there is a great sale. These are the days you find an in-store special that you weren’t aware of but it’s so hard to pass up.
An example might be finding an expensive chunk of authentic Parmigiano Reggiano for 50% off. You don’t find that every day and you can freeze it so this might be a time we bring out the stockpile money. You don’t have to buy 10 of them rather just a couple or what will suit your needs. Going over-board may have financial consequences.
Let’s explore some of the ways you might be spending too much money on food and how you can learn to save more for a rainy food day, pay down debt or invest or put into your emergency savings fund.
Spending too little on food
On the flip side you might find that you are spending too little on food because your cupboards and refrigerator are bare and you’ve got nothing to eat. The only downfall to spending too little is not having any more money to divide into this budget category.
You can however try to do grocery shopping at the Dollar store, eat less meat or visit the local food bank to stock up so you can better manage the money you do have for items you don’t get.
If you consistently run out of items before shopping days…it’s a good indicator that you don’t buy enough for your pantry to keep you going.- Colleen K.
How Much Should My Grocery Budget Be?
If budgeting is on your to-do list remember that you can’t create a grocery list without first knowing how much your grocery budget should be. This number will be different for everyone. There are no set rules to say that a single person should be spending x amount of dollars on food every month. No, that will not and cannot happen.
You could certainly chat to other singles in your area or country to get a better understanding as to how much they are spending but without deeper investigation you’ll never know if your situation is comparable.
Joe is single. Joe spends $300 a month on food and eats out twice a month spending a further $50.
Carrie is single. Carrie spends $500 a month on food but includes specialty foods fit for her dietary needs. Carrie hardly eats out.
The only comparable here is that they are both single. Catch my drift? It’s important to realize that only you can figure out how much you can afford to spend on food based on your overall monthly budget.
The gist of this post though is to remind everyone that just because you have the money to spend doesn’t mean you should spend it. I’m sure I’ll repeat that a couple of times in this post today.
Food waste breaks my heart so we do our best to limit this. With a toddler in the house this has become a huge challenge for us. We waste far more food today then when we were without our son. Finding food for him to enjoy is a challenge with a picky eater so we tend to limit portion sizes to very small.
If you are tossing out a lot of fruit or veggies you are buying too much.- Colleen K.
If you are consistently having to throw rotten fruits and vegetables in the garbage or you’re not eating up leftovers consider cutting back your shopping budget or purchase less.
Largest Monthly Expense
If your grocery expenses are too much or too little you can end up with too much or too little food. Let’s see what we can do to fix this problem.
You don’t HAVE to create a food budget however if you want to know exactly where your money is going and how much you are spending it’s a good idea to have an insurance option. By this I mean you are investing time into your finances finding ways to eliminate overspending.
Well, if I’m broke I’m spending too much and if I’m hungry, I’m spending too little
If you do find that your food budget is the largest expense in your monthly budget you may want to consider stripping it down and building it back up again. By this I mean adapting many of the tips I’m sharing today and then reapplying your food expense needs back into the monthly budget.
You’ll be amazed to find that you can save a few bucks or even hundreds of dollars that you can divide to other areas of your budget.
Does this sound familiar?
You look in the refrigerator and see that your fruit has gone moldy or your vegetables have wilted and moisture has taken over. There might be no way to save these fresh foods so they end up in the compost heap.
You’re a couponer or you simply stock up when you can because you’ve found a smashing deal but you don’t get through the product by the expiry date. This may just end up in the trash as well.
Keep a close eye on what you are throwing out and how often you are running into expired products on your shelves or in the refrigerator. Perfecting your spending according to how fast you will eat stuff up will go a LONG way. We know as we’ve experienced both the bad and the good shopping habits to team up with.
Create A Food Budget
Track your spending for a couple of months to see how much money you are spending on food to give you a sign of what you are currently spending.
When I started I keep track for a month just to see what I was spending and then worked to lower it as much as I could.- Christine W
Your grocery expenses are variable which means they can go up and down and you can control that. When an expense is fixed this means that you are paying the same amount ever month. The good part about a variable expense such as the food budget means you are in control.
Once you have all of your fixed expenses including debts factored into the budget any leftover money can be moved to your grocery budget. If you are saving money and find that you are spending too little money consider moving money or increasing your grocery expenses.
One of the smartest tasks we do once a month is to complete our Pantry list and Freezer inventory list. Knowing exactly what you have will help eliminate buying more than you need. How many bottles of Worcestershire sauce do you really need?
Related: You can find all CBB free printable lists on the Free Money Saving Tools page along with our monthly budget excel spreadsheet or a basic printable budget. All Free.
If you find that you are the impulse buying shopper during the two months that you watch your grocery spending then use the cash envelope budget to create a habit. You don’t have to do this exclusively but just until you get the hang of buying the right amount of food.
Without the temptation of a credit card or debit card you are less likely to spend more money on food. You may lose rewards points by paying cash instead of using credit card but think about the food savings you’ll be keeping in your pocket. Better there than in the garbage.
A meal plan can be tricky if you’re a busy family like we are but it’s still important to create one. I’m hardly home and when I am it’s chaos here between catching up on chores, office work, renos, family time, me time and this blog. Once a week we create a meal plan that we hope to stick with but know we might have to venture off track.
An example might be that we have an errand to run or an appointment has come up during dinner hours. This limits the time we have to cook especially if we’ve worked all day. The crock-pot is a great help as is cooking extra but ensuring it gets eaten is the main goal.
Limit Eating Out
When you eat out you’re not eating at home which means food isn’t getting eaten. Whether you incorporate eating out into your food budget is up to you but it’s still critical to shop for foods that you will eat in a timely fashion.
We hardly eat out. That being said you can certainly eat out when you have a grocery budget as long as you shop accordingly. Another example is if you plan to be away for a few days during the week then build your grocery list around how many days you will be home so you’re not buying too much food.
I’m not sure I know I am spending more on groceries then I used to. However with two growing kiddies and trying to eat out less that may be why we are spending more. Also having to buy more specialty foods such as things that are dairy free for one person while the rest of the family still has dairy.– Joanne T.
Buy Less In Bulk
Over the past 8 years since we bought our house Mrs. CBB and I have went overboard with food stockpiling and finally concluded that we had too much food. It got to the point where the pantry and cold room looked like a grocery store but we couldn’t possibly eat it all in time.
You can’t donate expired food so we tried our best not to waste anything but sadly we did toss out some bits that we had too much of. An example was this gourmet pasta sauce in packets that we bought. They were regular $7.99 each and we found them for $0.25.
After doing the quick math we knew we couldn’t possibly make a pot of pasta sauce for that cheap so into the shopping cart boxes and boxes and boxes of them went. It was more about the price than it was consumption rate. It was silly on our part but we learned from that mistake. These days we hardly stockpile food because there’s just no way we’d eat it all in time.
Instead of wasting food catch it on time and make meals you can freeze and then consider whether you should cut back on certain foods.
Clean out the refrigerator freezer meals are great to create meals for nights that you don’t have time to cook. Homemade freezer meals are the best because you get the opportunity to design them rather than buying a pre-made meal such as Hungry Man or Lean Cuisine.
Reserve Fund/Stockpile Cash
If you plan to shop and spend extra use a reserve fund or stockpile budget for extras that you want to buy but didn’t plan to buy. When a deal is too good to pass up this is where you can sneak some cash. If not some shoppers like to take excess grocery money at the end of the month and save it for the next and the next and the…. it can go on for years.
I’ve used the same grocery budget for 6 years and it allows me to have reserves for when I need/want extra funds. Hubby and I are a family of 2 and I have a budget of $190/month. Over the course of 5.5 years we’ve accumulated $1,500 in our “reserves” grocery so really, if I needed to shave the budget…1500/65 = $23.07 per month could be reduced and still leave us in the black.- Mary C
A cool experiment you can do is create a food price book where you track the products you regularly purchase. Document the prices, size and name of the product and typical flyer rotation pricing. Once you get the pricing down and possible sales cycle you’ll best understand how you much you want to spend so you know when it’s time to stock up according to your food needs.
I don’t have a food budget but I do have certain prices I won’t pay for things. I have to keep all my receipts for my business and for the past 3 years it’s stayed about the same…between $8-$9000 a year. That’s for the 2 adults and 4 kids. I easily spend $50-60 a week just on produce. There are for sure ways I can cut back but for now, it works for us.- Samantha J.
Shop Flyer Sales
The only way to tame the grocery spending is to shop the weekly specials and use other means to bring down your grocery expenses. Keep in mind though that just because you have the money to spend doesn’t mean you should be spending it.
Sales are great, waste is not.
Ideally, having a pantry filled with staples that you use helps to off-set any other expenses you may be making on food. If you over-stock you face wasted money on food that’s not getting eaten. The choice is yours. Do you want to save money or not?
Discussion Question: Have you ever thought that you might be spending too much money on groceries? What did you do to fix the problem or monitor it?
May Grocery Game Challenge
Join in the 2017 Grocery Game Challenge (GGC) fun and post your grocery shop in the comment section of each GGC blog post. Here are The Grocery Game Challenge rules to get you started and where you’ll also find a link for the 2017 GGC schedule. Please feel free to download, save and even print the schedule.
Post your shop and you can be next.
New monthly prize: See the Grocery Game Rules
Congratulations to Ballot #5 for Winning The Grocery Game Challenge in April. Please contact me to collect your prize Mary!!
May 2017 Blog Posts:
- 5 Simple Grocery Savings Tips For The Busy Shopper– Last Shop in April
Free Money Saving Tools 2017
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.
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 2017
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.
2017 Grocery Shop Results
Yearly grocery budget for two + 1 Toddler 2017: $3180 or $265/mth
(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 this Month: $265
- Total Grocery Budget with any carry-overs $265
- 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: 486,000
- Scanning Code of Practice (SCOP) to date $0
- Shoppers Optimum: Just under 850,000 Optimum points (I will update this twice a year) $1500 worth of free stuff.
Coupon Apps (add any other apps you use to save money)
- Zweet to cash out : $18.25
- Checkout51 to cash out : $24.50
Our Grocery Shop This Week
- PC Greek Black Cherry Yogurt $4.69-50%=$2.35
- 2 dozen large eggs $1.97 each $3.94
- 2 x Gay Lea Butter Sale $3.33 each $6.66
- 10 x Black Diamond 500g Cheese Bars Old Cheddar reduced $2.00 each $20.00
- Fresh PC Dill reduced $0.50
- PC Field Greens Organic $5.49-50%=$2.75 600 PC Points
- Bananas $1.34
- 6 x large avocado reduced 2/$1.00= $3.00
- Bulk bag cremini mushrooms $5.19-50%=$2.60
- Red Peppers Reduced $7.19-50%=$3.60
- Sugar Snap Peas $2.49-50%-$1.25
- Chicken Breasts Fresh 2 packs $9.33 $9.94
- Turkey Kolbassa $4.70-50%= $2.40
- 3 x Oliveri Tortellini Pasta $8.00 each-50% =$12.00
- 2x Picante Genoa Salami $9.99-50%=$10.00
- 3 x Top Sirloin Steak $8.26-50%=$4.13 $8.92-50%=$4.46 $7.83-50%=$3.92
- Sirloin Tip Steak $6.21-50%=$3.11
- Thomas Cinnamon Bread $3.99 ugh!
- Strawberries $1.99
Total-Out-Of-Pocket $116.37- $20 Cheese to stockpile= $96.37
- Milk $4.27
- 4 x 10% Cream $2.09 each
- 1 x 1L Whipping Cream $4.99
All totals below already have tax factored into them.
- Total to spend this month : $265-$8.83= $256.17 to spend in May.
- Stockpile budget 2016 : $25.00
- Stockpile budget used this month: $20.00
- Total coupons used this week: $1
- Total coupons used to date: $1
- Total in-store discounts this week: $96.57
- Total in-store discounts to date: $529.07
- Total spent this week: $113.99
- Total spent so far this month: $113.99
- Total over/Under spend this shop:
- Total over/Under spend for the month: over
- Total left to spend for the month: $142.18
- Total Spent To Date 2017: (does not include stockpile budget) Jan $231.06+Feb $255.16+March ($5 budget increase) $263.60 + April $273.83+ May $
Weekly Overview (your final thoughts)
We found some amazing deals this week which messed up our weekly grocery list however it was all food that we typically buy but cheaper. We will adjust our food budget as needed as the weeks progress. What a start to the month… BANG!
Coupons and Coupon Apps
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 notice I’m missing a valuable link please message me and I’ll get it added to the savings list below.
Sign up for the Nielsen Canada Home Scan Program and you can earn rewards points fast to redeem for awesome products or gift cards. I did this in the UK and loved it!!
Plus check out these other hidden areas online to get more coupons!!
If any of these links are broken please report them to me.
- Healthy Essentials Printable Coupons (Johnson and Johnson)
- Danone Coupons Get up to $25 in coupons
- Clorox Coupons Sign up to print coupons in the Clorox family which include Greenworks, Glad etc.
- Kraft Canada Sign up and receive recipes and coupons by email
- MySavings.com Printable Smart Source Coupons
- Walmart Canada Printable Coupons
- Proctor and Gamble PandG Sign up for printable coupons
- Hidden Coupon Portals You Should know about – I found this over at Save a Loonie and you’ll want to sign up for notifications and check out the site so you get notified every time a hidden coupon is available from Save.ca, Brandsaver, Smart Source etc.
Grocery Game Challenge 2017 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 to reflect changes for the 2017 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-$20-$50 PC Loblaws Gift Card and for our out of country friends it’s $CDN via PayPal. Please see GGC rules.
- 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 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 is one of the most popular hang out spots for people who want to save money on groceries.
If you’ve just joined The Grocery Game Challenge 2017 get ready to look at 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 2017!
Are You New To Canadian Budget Binder?
- Follow Me on Social media by clicking any of the buttons below on the blog.
- Check out my new Free Recipe Index
- If you like FREE then click this link for my FREE Excel Budget Spreadsheet and all my Free Money Saving List
- Don’t forget to Subscribe to Canadian Budget Binder by Email to get my daily email. Once you subscribe you MUST VERIFY your email account so check your spam folder and inbox for that email! By Subscribing you get all the inside scoops first plus any new finance tools and tips.
- If you notice and broken links or errors please email me or leave a comment below.
- Note some links used in this post will be affiliate links.