Remember how I went way over budget last month with grocery shopping? One of the worst parts was that I really had nothing to show for the huge overage (no stockpile of meat, canned foods, pasta, etc.). I literally had no idea where all the money (and food) went, but I knew it was gone.
But this month I was bound and determined to get back on track. Here’s what I’ve done differently this month to get my grocery spending under control:
- Meticulous meal planning. I always know that I save money when I stick to a meal plan instead of doing the whole “what should we eat?” (asked at 5pm) thing. That lack of planning had lead to many last minute trips to the grocery store to pick up “one or two” things for a given dinner (which, inevitably, always turned into 10-12 things by the time I was leaving). None of that this month! Not only have I stuck to my meal plan, but I’ve also purposely planned meals around items we’ve already had on hand and/or items that I could rollover into a second (or third) meal easily.
- Limited grocery shopping. One of my issues last month is that I was going to the grocery store a LOT. Like….5-6 times a week! How is that possible? I don’t even know. This month I refused to go grocery shopping at all during the first week of the month. Thereafter I’ve limited myself to a maximum of 2 trips per week (generally 1 larger trip at the beginning of the week, and a second much smaller trip to the farmer’s market for produce mid-week).
- Keep your eye on the prize. One thing that has helped with trying to really be mindful about my grocery spending is that I’ve been so focused on my debt-reduction mission this month. I’m trying to make some extra debt payments this month (above and beyond what I reported in my debt update last week), but the last extra payment is contingent upon my grocery spending. If I go over, then I have nothing extra to put toward debt. I’m SO, SO focused on knocking out some debts SOON that I am trying to squeeze every extra dollar I can find from my budget. It only makes sense to try to get some of that money from my grocery budget, particularly in light of having gone so far over in that budget category last month.
- Doesn’t hurt that it’s February. Can’t really claim any pre-planning on this one, but it sure helped that this was a shorter month than most. Whereas most months I’m left with more month than money, I still have money to spare in my grocery budget this month, even as the end of the month is fast approaching.
And although we still have a few more days left in February, so far the prognosis for my grocery spending is good. I did my last “big” grocery trip on Saturday and will probably need to go again mid-week (Wednesday-ish) for fresh fruits and veggies, but that is always a much lower-cost trip (maybe about $20ish). If that’s the case, then I should still have close to $60 leftover from my grocery budget. Combine that with little bits leftover from here and there and I should be able to scrape up about an extra $100 toward debt before the month ends. Fingers crossed! I know $100 doesn’t seem like much, but every extra dollar counts; every extra dollar is one dollar closer to paying off a lingering debt. Plus I’m getting so, so close to paying some debts off in full! I cannot wait until March because I’m really, really hoping I’ll be able to report a couple of newly cleared debts!!
How’ve you done on your spending and budgeting this month?