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The Best Ways to Budget for Groceries
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The Best Ways to Budget for Groceries

If you don't have a grocery budget or a shopping plan, you could find yourself spending far more on groceries than you can afford. Grocery budgeting does not require that you eat inexpensive noodle soup for every meal, nor does it require that you cut out fresh produce from your diet. Watch your spending and shop strategically to minimize your costs and maximize what you get.

Reasonable Budget Amount
Use the United States Department of Agriculture's guidelines to determine a reasonable grocery budget for your household. If you are on a thrifty grocery budget, the USDA estimates that you should be able to shop for under $40 per week for each teen or adult male, $35 per week for each teen or adult female and $20 to $33 per week for each child, depending on the child's age. If you shop and cook strategically, you could get by with a budget even lower than the USDA recommendation.

Cash Accounting
If you are serious about sticking to a budget for your groceries, cash accounting is the best strategy because it is impossible for you to spend more than you budget. Set aside an envelope or zippered pouch for your grocery money and fill it either at the beginning of each month, the beginning of each week or right after you deposit each paycheck. If you replenish the envelope monthly, use 4.33 times your weekly budget as the average monthly amount.

Weekly Ads
Before you shop each week, use the grocery store's weekly ad to help you develop a grocery list. Buy only what is on your list to help you avoid costly impulse purchases. When you are making the list, look for items that are on sale that your household will eat. Pay special attention to seasonal produce that is on sale. If one of your favorite items goes on sale, buy enough to stock your pantry or put in your freezer and use in the upcoming weeks. If you clip coupons, try to use these on sale items to get the best possible price.

Inexpensive Ingredients

The most expensive ingredients for most families are meat, dairy and processed foods. Therefore, help your grocery budget by opting for other types of food. Purchase basic starches, such as pasta, rice, potatoes and flour to use as foundations for your meals. Limit the amount of beef you buy and get less expensive chicken, tofu or beans for your protein. Buy regular milk for your calcium, and use other dairy products, such as cheese and yogurt, in moderation.