Family of Five Life

Balancing Family & Finances

How I Prioritize Grocery Spending

Do you ever feel overwhelmed by grocery shopping? Are you sometimes carried away by a good deal? Do you have a hard time staying in budget even when you make a basic grocery list?

If you’re anything like me, grocery shopping on a budget can be a weekly dilemma. What to buy, what to cut? Do I really need that? I want to spend wisely, but I don’t want to miss out on this sale; it ends tomorrow and time is running out!

To make things easier on myself, I created a handy dandy Grocery Spending Decision Flow Chart. Why would I make such a thing you ask? Because I have the trifecta of personality quirks that makes this a necessity: indecisive, nerdy, and a visual learner! Looking at this chart helps me prioritize when I feel like I can’t decide what to buy and what not to buy.

Making a Grocery List – The Process
click here for the YouTube video

I start by writing out a grocery list based on three things:

  1. Things I need for the meals I have planned in the week.
  2. Things I am running low on (this includes things I used up and wrote on the list, and our weekly staples that run out each week).
  3. Sales or coupon deals that I want to take advantage of.

Once I add everything I want and/or need to the list, I then fill in the cost of each item. Most stores list prices in their ad or online, but if I don’t know an exact price (like Aldi prices) I just guess. If you are a nerd like me you will be making your grocery list in Google Sheets or Excel. That way, things you buy all the time are already in there next time. If not, you can just use pen and paper. Now, add everything up and see what your total number is. If you’re me, it will always, ALWAYS start out over budget.

So now to whittle away until you are within your budget. But where to whittle from? This is where you can use the Grocery Spending Decision Flow Chart! Now, I am not a professional flow chart maker, so please don’t judge my little chart too harshly. This is just a visual representation of the primary questions I ask myself when deciding what gets cut from the grocery budget. (Our average monthly grocery bill for a family of five is around $400, just for reference). This little flow chart makes it easier to feed a large family on a tight budget!

So, once you’ve asked yourself all the tough questions, you should be able to (eventually) arrive at a number that is close to, or under your grocery budget. If you are still having trouble getting in budget after a few rounds of flow-charting, I suggest walking away for a while. Come back later with fresh eyes and try again. It is hard to say NO to things, so instead of feeling like you’re missing out, try to focus on the other things that you are saying YES to in your budget! As time goes on it will get easier and more natural to prioritize your grocery spending. Pretty soon you’ll be in control of your budget and on top of your grocery spending.