Yesterday I answered the main question about keeping our budget low each month. Today I'll dive into a few other questions about grocery budgets that I hear often.
~Does your budget include toiletries and household products (paper towel, laundry soap, etc)?
The short answer is NO. Ours is a separate category in our cash budget system.
~What's a reasonable grocery budget amount?
I have heard two different numbers to answer this question, so I'll tell you both as well. The first answer is $100/person per month. After looking into it further I have come to the conclusion that this number DOES include toiletries and household products. The second number is $50/person per month. This number is ONLY food. So we took those numbers and figured out what that would be for us and since we are trying to get out of debt we challenged ourselves to use even less than those amounts, at least for this season. Thankfully we have been able to meet those goals, but it does take a lot of discipline and is not always easy.
~How do I know I'm getting a good price?
I'm a price memorizer. I can tell you almost every price I pay for things I buy regularly-to the penny- so I notice when things are going up or are more expensive then I can find some where else. I know not everyone is like that, but you could keep a list of common items you buy and their prices to use as a reference point until you become more familiar with the prices in your area. The other great tip I learned from the grocery shrink was to keep your meat prices under $2/lb and your produce prices under $1/lb. Which is totally doable! I've kept this in mind while shopping since hearing it and have found it to be a useful reference point and very attainable if you pay attention.
~Does this take a lot of time?
No more than a trip to the grocery store at this point. We did do some research to find things in bulk and local growers, but now we simply order through them when we need to. Most of the time I shop at one store and use the ads to get the lowest price, which takes about 5 minutes of my time each week and then another 5-10 extra minutes at the store to match the products and prices. Other then those things, I really don't spend a lot of time on it. In fact, I go to the store less often, which is wonderful! :)
A well stocked pantry and freezer make a world of difference at the grocery store. Everything is bought at a low price and you always have food on hand to make into a meal. It has in all reality, simplified my life.