This week I was asked a very good question about whether or not a grocery budget is a good idea and if it is how much should a grocery budget be. I believe that a grocery budget is definitely a good idea, in fact I think it is a must. Jacob and I like to work from a budget worksheet that has a specified amount of money in each category that we spend money in, that definitely includes groceries. We try to account for each and every dollar we spend. Our budget worksheet is something we work on together at least once monthly and we have done this throughout our marriage. It is something we both like to be involved in so we do it together. As for how much a grocery budget should be this is a question that can only be answered within your own family. There are many variables that go into figuring out and deciding how much a grocery budget should be. The size of your family will be one of the biggest factors, but you also have to consider the types of food your family eats, the stores you normally do your shopping in, and the cost of food items in the area you live, and of course your monthly income.
I think one of the best ways to begin to determine what your weekly food costs will be is to plan a weekly menu. Try to plan a menu that includes a variety of foods that you eat on a regular basis. The menu needs to include breakfast, lunch, and dinner. From your weekly menu make a grocery list. Be sure to include items that you might already have on hand, but are required for your recipe. You need to include these items in your budget to maintain your food storage. Once you have your list you can do one of two things, go out and buy the items on your list or take your list to the store and simply calculate the cost of the items. Now you have a good idea of what you might spend on groceries for a week. From here you can easily calculate your monthly expenditures. You will need to include a little money for some staples that you probably wouldn't include on your weekly list like, flour, sugar, spices, etc.
Once you have your monthly expenditures figured you can add an appropriate amount of money to the budget for additional items to either replenish or bolster your food storage. Please refer to the new guidelines for home preparedness given to us by church leaders to help you in figuring out how to build your home food storage. Once you have a good monthly grocery budget in place then you can focus your attention on saving money in this area through couponing, clearance shopping, etc, As you save money each month on your grocery budget keep that money in the grocery category on your budget worksheet. Don't spend it on other items. Eventually you will have enough excess in this category for those months you need to replenish some of the things you need to buy in bulk, like flour, sugar, etc. or for when you come across a great deal on something and you would like to stock up.