How to create a grocery budget

The Importance of Planning and Simplifying Meals

Picture a homemaker's shopping trip to provide food for her household. The woman's five year old is walking happily beside her. Without a care in the world, she randomly picks various items from the store shelves and places them in her cart.

Halfway through the store, she begins to feel hungry. In response to her growling stomach, she then adds a few extra items that look and smell good. Her child also starts to feel hungry and begins to ask for this and that item. Out of frustration, the edgy mother gives in to the child's requests for the cocoa-flavored cereal and bag of chips; anything to end the whining.

Finally, after the store clerk scans the heaping mound of items from the cart, the total comes to $142.76. Tired and distraught, the mom writes the check, bags her stuff, and grumbles all the way back to the car after another grocery shopping fiasco. She swears next time she'll do better, just like she swore three days ago.

This may not be a typical shopping adventure for most homemakers, but it is not too far from the truth for some. In today's economy, many families may not be able to afford that large of a grocery bill each week. Yet even those on a smaller budget can make adjustments to their weekly food planning so that they can maximize their money.

King Solomon was a man who had plenty, from money to horses to servants. And yet even he understood the value in planning. He stated, “The plans of the diligent lead surely to plenty, but those of everyone who is hasty, surely to poverty.” (Proverbs 21:5)

How fitting this is in light of a family who may be struggling financially. One of the quickest and wisest ways to cut back on the monthly food budget is to plan. Plan what meals will be served this week, plan what foods will be purchased, and plan how to best make the weekly food stretch.

The following are some ways to help trim some of the excess spending from the weekly food budget:

  • Make a weekly food menu and stick to it.
  • Make a grocery list based on the menu and stick to it.
  • Buy bulk foods such as pastas, rice, beans, cereals, baking goods, etc.
  • Cook large-quantity foods like soups, casseroles, roasts, etc. that yield leftovers for later in the week.
  • Have on-hand some inexpensive food items for quick and easy meal preparation to help eliminate last-minute dining out.
  • Don't go grocery shopping with young children unless you can say a firm no to unnecessary food requests.
  • Don't shop when hungry or depressed.

  • These tips may be old news for some, but for others they may make a $100 or more difference in their monthly food budget. Especially those who haven't had any instruction in keeping a food budget. The goal is to have a healthy perspective of saving money where money can be saved. This is part of being a good steward of the resources God provides, whether it is little or much.

    Written by: Amy Miller