I have had a $50/week grocery budget since I realized that a budget is a fiscally responsible way to plan your finances. Now that we are a family of 3 (and a half), our weekly budget fluctuates a bit more than a hard and fast $50 a week, but averaging what I am spending I can say from weekly groceries to big bulk shopping, we are spending about $25 a person per week.
My family eats plant-based- no meat, no dairy. BUT we had the same grocery budget when we ate meat, so I promise this price is not based on exclusively eating rice and beans. In fact, a lot of vegan alternative items are quite expensive, and I still make this budget work.
We have laying hens, therefor, I do not buy eggs.
We do not buy organic. This is not an organic food guide.
This guide may not be successful to families that live in food deserts. This is a general Flagstaff grocery guide.
What should this cost?
Firstly, you need to understand what things should cost. I bring this up because when I see big grocery bills it’s usually by people paying more than an item is worth. Meats like poultry and pork, should cost less that $2/lb. A regular box of cereal should be less than $2. Same thing with a gallon of milk or a pound of cheese. This is not exclusively when things are on sale. Also, understand what items are typically pricey so you only buy them on sale, like steak or asparagus.
Get familiar with bulk bins. You’ll save more per pound and you can buy exactly what you need! I buy a lot of rice, beans, quinoa, nuts and lentils. Those items I get a large quantity of when I need to buy them. You can do the same thing with flour and sugar and even dried fruit. You probably won’t eat a pound of Craisins. Buy what you need. Try something new without a ton of risk.
It is pretty obvious in my house when cereal is on sale. I have a toddler and she is a big Cheerio eater. There are 7 boxes of Cheerios in my pantry right now. Last week they were on sale, next week they might not be and I’m not overpaying for cereal. Pasta is cheap, but if it’s on sale I buy all the varieties. I do the same thing with cream cheese, broth and snacks.
At a certain point in the year, you should not pay more than $1 for a carton of strawberries. Likewise, you may need a fix in December and you should recognize they will not be cheap. Grab those fresh pineapples when they go on sale this summer! Foods like artichokes and asparagus fluctuate in price, plan to buy them when they’re low.
We are heavy produce buyers but don’t buy what your family won’t get to. It’s better to run out and need to be creative at the end of your grocery week, than to have an abundance that’s going to go bad before you can get to it.
Pinterest will make you believe meal planning is easy, but I find it to be a total pain despite having done it for years. If you’re new to meal planning, leave wiggle room and be flexible. I usually plan one leftover dinner night. Recently my husband and I sat down and made a list of all the meals in our rotation and we came up with 30 dinners! Now when I meal plan I go to this list first to see if something works for what we have or what’s on sale that week.
Check the circular
Budget fun-fact: Sprouts has double ad day on Wednesday. Pull up both ads, make a meal plan, go shopping.
Go to more than one store
Your time has a value. If it makes sense to go to more than one store to score a better deal, DO IT. If you have four screaming kids that you cannot possibly stand to take to another store, don’t.
I buy the majority of my groceries from Sprouts. I buy pasta, bread, cereal and specific specialty items from Safeway. I do an every other month bulk trip to Costco.