How To

Top 5 Ways to Bust a Grocery Budget – And How to Stop Doing It

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Do you ever just completely bust your grocery budget? I know I do, and I have really had to learn what my strengths, weaknesses, and pitfall’s are. Isn’t it kind of crazy how adulting looks a lot like keeping yourself in check ALL THE TIME? Well, at least I feel that way sometimes!

So what are the top five ways that I bust my grocery budget?

    1. Going to the grocery store without a list. I do this often and every single time it kicks me in the butt. Do NOT enter a grocery store without a list! Don’t do it! Make a list and stick to it! (The only exception to this rule is when you go clearance shopping for meats,fruit, breads, yogurt and milks. But you should still know what you need and don’t need at home)
    2. Going to the grocery store while hungry. GGSWH will kill you every time. You will buy all of the things because you are starving. So please, EAT before you go shopping!
    3. Not knowing what you have in your fridge/pantry. So make a list, but make sure you actually need the things on that list. I bought two dozen eggs at the store only to realize that I already had two dozen at home. I have also gone a few days with no sugar, because I forgot to put that on my list. I really needed a better system, so I came up with an inventory sheet that you can get for free when you sign up for my  weekly newsletter
    4. I don’t write out the ingredients I need for my recipes. You can’t make spaghetti without noodles or sauce. So make sure that you write down the ingredients for your recipes and check them against your Pantry Inventory
    5. Buying individually wrapped snacks for the kids. It is so much cheaper to buy a bag of pretzels, a bag of popcorn, or goldfish and divvy them up into snack baggies. This is a great chore for your kids. Mine do it without complaining, mostly because they get to snack while they do it. 

Just remember to give yourself a little grace, none of us are perfect and sometimes the best laid plans go awry.

Whatever you do, don’t get discouraged when you go over your budget. Think about the things you did right. So you spent $20 more than you wanted to, but you went to the store with a list for the first time ever. Consider that a win! When you are tempted to give up, DON’T! Practice makes perfect!

One of the ways I have been staying on budget lately is by shopping the clearance and freezing the meat. I got a bunch of ground beef a few weeks ago that was being clearanced out for really cheap. I still have 2 lbs left and have made spaghetti, chili, and enchilada casserole with it so far. Just ask your store what days and times they typically clearance out the meat.

Need some meal planning ideas?

Check out my Meal Planning Tips and Tricks and try out some of my cheap and easy recipes, like One Pan Enchilada Casserole or Crockpot Refried Beans.


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  • Natalie

    I have been guilty of every single one of these at one time or another. It’s helpful to see it called out here and connected to why I always seem to spend more than I intend when I go grocery shopping. Time to change patterns! 🙂

  • Carrie

    Great post! I’m pretty strict about my grocery budget and use all your tops! My family of 5 manages to only spend $65 a week and they know if it’s not on the list we don’t get it!

    • Leslie

      That is really awesome! I love that you are able to keep it to $65. Right now, I am trying to stay under $100 per week.

  • Stacey Jo Edwards

    One of my new favorite tips to stay on budget is to order ahead! I’m not buying anything on impulse and I know exactly whats in my cabinets! Kroger Clicklist has been my favorite. Thanks for the tips!

  • Molly

    These are such great tips, I have been guilty of all of these at some point or another. Pre-packaged snacks really get me for the convenience factor. I love your idea of buying a larger cheaper quantity and divying it up myself. I’ll have to do that!

    • Leslie

      It is amazing how much money it saves and you still have the convenience factor of grabbing it and throwing it in.

  • Kathryn Martin

    I really enjoyed reading your post. My husband and I are daily grocery shoppers these days, meaning we are at the grocery store at least once a day due to the fact that if we try to buy things weekly we won’t use what we get. We find ourselves deciding we want something else so we end up having things in the cupboard that we had planned on eating but never did because we changed our minds and then forgot those items were there.

    • Leslie

      I think that is smart! We have wasted a lot of produce by buying all at once. Plus, it is good to be able to change your mind if you want to.

  • Anna

    This are all very helpful tips, thank you! Next week when I make my grocery list, I am going to try to remember to check my pantry…I’m the worst at that!

  • Lori Ann

    This is a great reminder…I’m guilty of many of these, which have led to exorbitant grocery bills! I think I’m going to pin your post so I remember it.

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