Frugal is being intentional about what your money goes toward. Creating a grocery spending plan for your family makes being intentional with your money easier. Notice that I don’t call this a ‘budget.’ I dislike the word because it sounds restrictive. ‘Spending plan’ sounds more exciting and fun!
Arrive on a spending amount
The Credit Counselling Society of Canada recommends planning to spend between $200 to $250 per person a month on groceries. For a family of four, that is a total spending amount of $800 to $1,000 on groceries per month.
To arrive at a specific number within this range, add up how much your family spent on groceries for the past 12 months. If you’re making a monthly spending plan, divide the total by 12. If you’re making a weekly spending plan, divide that number by 52.
If your amount lands between $800 to $1,000 per month or $185 to $230 per week, then you’re golden! If not, then you are going to have to decide on your target amount. I would suggest not going too low compared to last year’s actual number. You don’t want this spending plan to be too restrictive.
Now that you have your monthly or weekly spending amount for groceries, let’s plan how to spend your hard-earned money on groceries - wisely.
Make a spending plan
My family’s grocery spending plan includes food, toiletries, and kitchen supplies. Every eighth week, 80 percent of our grocery spending goes toward restocking toiletries and kitchen supplies, 10 percent is spent on perishables, and 10 percent goes toward freezer and pantry staples.
I suggest planning to spend 20 percent of your grocery amount toward stocking freezer and pantry staples and 80 percent toward meal-plan items. Yes, you need a meal plan with your grocery spending plan. Being intentional with where your money goes involves a lot of planning.
To make meal-planning easy, create six to eight weekly meal plans that you cycle through the year - including a grocery list to go with each meal plan makes grocery shopping a breeze, too.
‘Stick to your list’ is the most common suggestion when trying to manage your grocery spending. However, in my opinion, it is the hardest suggestion to follow. So that my family doesn’t feel deprived and is still able to buy some treats when grocery shopping, we include treats as part of the 20 percent restock amount. The best suggestion I have for you is to ‘stick to your spending amount.’
When laziness kicks in
Even with the best laid plans, there is bound to be trouble along the way. And the best way to deal with trouble is to plan for it.
I usually keep ingredients in the pantry and freezer for ‘lazy’ meals. These meals are not part of my family’s usual meal plan but come in handy when I have no energy left to cook after a long day or when unexpected company comes over.
My family’s most loved lazy meal is Mayonnaise Baked Salmon. It’s a slab of salmon, seasoned with salt and pepper, slathered with mayonnaise, then baked at 450°F for 15 to 20 minutes. Serve with steamed broccoli or quinoa.
Another go-to lazy meal in my family is Instant Pot BBQ ribs. Throw some pork ribs and your favorite BBQ sauce in the Instant Pot, then cook on high for 30 to 40 minutes. Serve with rice or quinoa. (Sometimes I get fancy and throw in some pineapple tidbits, too!)
My freezer always has DIY frozen pizza kits for extremely lazy days or when the kids just fancy eating pizza for supper.
Review and challenge
All this planning is a waste of time if you don’t review your data. My family reviews our spending plan versus actual spending every six months and adjusts accordingly. Next year, we are challenging ourselves to reduce our grocery spending amount by 10 percent. Challenges keep us engaged, excited, and creative with our spending plans.
Happy (frugal) spending!
Calgary’s Child Magazine © 2022 Calgary’s Child