One of the most important line items in the family budget is for food. One of the most powerful tools for managing that food line item is your grocery list. If things are a little tight right now, try preparing a grocery list on a budget. Here are a few tips that will help with each step of the process:
Take an Inventory of the Pantry
The key to controlling the food budget is to identify what you already have in the house. Before sitting down to make out your grocery list, check the pantry and the freezer and make a note of what you can use to prepare meals for the next week or so. This will help you avoid placing items on the grocery list that you already have in abundance.
Plan Your Meals
Using the results of the inventory review, begin the process of planning meals for the next week to two weeks. Consider using a calendar that will allow you to write out what you will serve at each meal. You can begin by making entries based on what is already on hand. When you are finished with this part of the process, you’ll be able to readily see how many meals you need to plan for, along with which days you need to purchase the ingredients you don’t already have on hand.
Creating Your List
With the planning phase complete, you can move on to preparing a grocery list on a budget. Starting with the first date on the schedule, make a preliminary list of what you need to round out each of those meals. At this point, don’t worry about ordering the list. Just note what you need to cover the meals for each day in succession.
Once you make a complete sweep for the period covered, start to organize your list. A good rule of thumb is to organize the list based on how your favourite supermarket is arranged. This allows you to begin at one side of the store and then make your way to the other side. Along the way, you quickly pick up everything that you need without having to double back for something you overlooked.
Selecting Foods for the List
While preparing a grocery list on a budget, be open to using generic or store brands rather than the pricier name brands. Look further down the shelves and see how much you can save by trying those lesser-known options.
The brands that the supermarket is pushing this week will be at eye level; the real bargains are underneath. You may find those less expensive brands work just as well for you, allowing you to save a small amount on each item you purchase.
Also be open to making some things from scratch. You really can prepare things like salad dressings, breads, and other items from basic ingredients, and save a considerable amount over buying those pre-made counterparts.
No Impulse Buying
Your list is your guide through the maze of wonders at the supermarket. Do not allow yourself to deviate from that list. Impulse buying will sink a food budget faster than anything. Buy only what you need and no more.
Preparing a grocery list on a budget is challenging, but it also brings its own rewards. With proper planning, you can purchase more with less money, and still enjoy meals that are varied and tasty.
For help with other aspects of the budget, work with a certified credit counsellor to find ways to live within your means. You’ll reduce the overall amount of debt carried and once again know the joy of being debt free.