» Grocery Budgeting

M asked on Twitter yesterday:

“What is a “normal” weekly grocery budget (and for how many people)?”

 We have gone back and forth on our budget for weekly and regular expenses. It took a (very) long while to formulate a good plan and budget. But I’m pretty set these days, and I thought I’d share it here. I’m sure you’ll skip this post if you aren’t interested.

Our weekly grocery/household items budget is ~$150, which is $600 per month. This includes:

  • food for six meals (that will include leftovers for lunch)
  • snacks for adults
  • toddler snacks
  • alcohol for the week
  • dog food, cat food, cat litter
  • toiletries, makeup
  • cleaning supplies

We have a separate budget for eating out, which we do minimally, but regularly.

To some of you this budget may seem high, and to some of you it may seem low. It’s what works for us. We spend a significant amount on food, but we eat good food. We eat healthy, I make most things myself (rarely frozen or canned), and I cook at least six nights per week. We eat leftovers, we rarely throw out food. Once we have a larger apartment we will have room for our deep freeze, and I’m super looking forward to being able to double or triple meals for freezing. I know I will be able to cut back a bit by buying some in bulk.

An example of a regular meal:

Cheeseburger Salad! (The brown stuff on top is a homemade dressing.) Recipe derived from Home Sweet Sarah‘s Instagram account, a.k.a. where I get many new meal ideas.

Example of a weekly menu:

I plan meals every Sunday afternoon, and plan our grocery list against ingredients needed for meals, plus extra stuff we need or like to keep on hand (example: snacks for Eriana, cheese snacks to keep at work for if Jim and I get hungry so we don’t buy lots of food, coffee, etc.).

After I have a plan I go grocery shopping. Usually I go to Target first, because sometimes the meats I need have random $1 or $3 off coupons on weekends, then I go to Trader Joe’s. Anything I can’t get at those two places I head to Fred Meyer (a super store not unlike a Super Walmart or Super Target in that you can buy anything there) later in the week.

I post my meals on a special Google calendar to share with friends and glean ideas. I usually cook one new meal a week, two if I’m feeling adventurous. I get my new meal ideas from my friends’ calendars, Pinterest, and Instagram. Lucky for me a lot of my friends also love food, so they post pictures of meals a lot.

That’s… about it. Sorry I suck at being brief.

How do you plan your meals? Do you have a strict budget, or are you pretty lenient?


  1. Julie (@mavsmom)
    February 19, 2014 12:47

    This is very similar to how I do our meal plan. I don’t plan based on specials. I plan based on what we want to eat and our schedule any given week (since Chris’s shift rotates, this varies from week to week). After the plan is in place, I compile my grocery list from my recipes, deleting what we already have on hand and adding any other items we might need like lunches, toiletries, dog food, and other household items. I do most of my shopping at HEB because they really do have the best prices even if they are ridiculously crowded at all times. For items I can buy in bulk (school snacks, toilet paper, etc…) I do a Sam’s run. I try to limit this to once a month just so it doesn’t become too much. Anything I can buy at HEB, I will pick up at Randall’s or Target depending on what it is. Our budget is also about $150 a week for the four of us plus the dog. I figure with the Sam’s trip, it averages out to about that even though I don’t spend that every week. We try to keep the eating out down to a minimum but it still happens at least once a week. I also carry meals we don’t cook over from week to week which helps save on the grocery budget since I already have all the supplies on hand.

  2. K
    February 20, 2014 09:06

    I usually plan our meals around our work schedules (when will T be out of town; when will I be on the Reference Desk until five as this means we get home later and I have less time to cook) and then shop from there. I usually will only to one grocery store (for 90% of the food) plus Target (for Pull-Ups, milk, snacks for Ezra at school).

    And I might be giving this hamburger salad a go. Tell me more.

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