How I keep My $200 Grocery Budget

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I think the question that I get the most as a couponer is “How much to you spend on groceries?”

For my family of 5, I spend on average $50 per week. This is just something that I started going by because it was all we could afford. This is different for everyone. My family doesn’t have a serious food aversions and we aren’t very picky with much items. So $50 per week is easy for us to achieve.  There are times that I go over. I’m not perfect, my boys are going through serious growth spurts and I am finding that I may need to up my grocery budget. But here are some tips that help me stay within my budget each month

:: Meatless meals. We try to have at least one meatless meal each week. homemade pizza with a variety of cheeses and veggies. You don’t realize how expensive it can be trying to plan a meat meal every day of the week!

:: Stick to the budget. 

:: Pick up items that you don’t find coupons for with store rewards. When I run low on items that I can’t really stockpile or are lacking of deals to stockpile, I use my store rewards. CVS allows you to purchase milk with ECBs. So I almost always use my rewards to pick up milk. (that is at least $7 saved per week) Also, bread and condiments as good items to pick up at the drugstores.

:: Use overage to your advantage. The only reason I shop at Walmart is to price match or use overage to pick up items like meat or produce. I usually take at least one trip per month to use overage to buy Chicken Breasts or bananas (my kids go through them like water!) This saves me about $10 per month. Yes, there are items that I only purchase because they were free with overage.  I donate them if I can’t use them.

:: Only buy what is on sale. I usually shoot for one meat item per week. If its Turkey that is on sale then we are eating Turkey that month. We have about 3 meats that we rotate during the month. We usually stick to Pork, Chicken and Turkey. We don’t buy Expensive Steaks at the grocery store. I purchase enough of each to freeze for at least 3 meals.

:: Eat from your stockpile. Once you have a good size Stockpile  you will notice that you will only be picking up meats or produce that work with the items in your stockpile. You will spend less on Condiments as well. Have a lot of Salad Dressing? Then find ways to marinate those in meats (if possible) . Tons of pasta in your stockpile? Then get creative with pasta! We have done this for awhile and I find myself getting more creative as a cook and finding  dishes that we really like because I decided to throw this in with that. :)

:: Make your weekly menu plan by what is in your stockpile and what is on sale. Many families sit down and plan a weekly menu based on what they WANT to eat each week. This is not preferable  method because you can end up purchasing items at their highest price that week. So sit down and plan your menu based on what is on sale and what you may have at home already.

If your family has special diets this may not be easy to achieve. If you really want to save money, you need to make a budget around what is reasonable for your family and most importantly, sticking to it.




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  1. christina says

    I always buy bread in the clearance section of either Ralphs or Albertsons. It’s usually priced anywhere from .49-.99 cents. Bread freezes great. I let it thaw out on my counter and it tastes as good as fresh.

    • Curtis says

      I get some great deals on the clearance bread at Ralphs too. They always have the Hawaiian rolls on clearance for $1.49. I use the $1.00 coupons for it to make it even cheaper.
      My Walgreens always has the Sara Lee bread marked 99 cents. Sometimes there are 75 cent coupons to make it 24 cents each.

  2. Klopez says

    This question is a little off subject, but I was wondering how long should I wait before I toss out my Sunday coupon inserts? They are really piling up because I have a little over one year’s worth of inserts and I’m not sure if I should toss some of them or not? Please advise, thanks you in advance. :)

    • Michele says

      I think Josie did a post at one point where she talked about how she puts an expiration date on the front cover of her inserts before she files them. That way she know the expiration date of the latest dated coupon in the entire insert. Very good way to track and know when to throw out. But I know I still have some that are from Jan that haven’t expired, but tons between then and now that have. To know for sure you have to go through the inserts and see latest expiration date for the coupons. I was once in your spot and just spend about 30 minutes going through them all to check on the dates to know which to toss, then started with the expiration date method. And that works great now that I use it.

    • i says

      I bought a set of 5 binder rings. I put a month’s worth of inserts on 4 out of the 5, so I have 4 months of intact inserts. When the next month comes along, I go through the oldest month – by this time, the vast majority of the coupons are expired and can be tossed. I pull out the pages of the coupons that are not expired and store these on the 5th binder ring. I routinely get 3 sets of inserts, so this works great for that number – if you are getting significantly more inserts than that, this method may not work. As an aside, I do occasionally have a hole punch on coupons, but I have never had a cashier reject a coupon for this reason.

      • meryl says

        Awesome idea i!!! I was clipping the not expired ones but think your method sounds preferable. Many times I won’t use them anyhow. I like grouping in a ‘loose coups’ binder- thank you! Altho I will say that I generally only keep 3 months worth. These are in a file box [and I probably should use 2 boxes since I get 4 sets of inserts most weeks.]

  3. Michele says

    This is one area of my budget I NEVER seem to be able to get control of. I have a family of 5 and my 6’8 husband eats for two (literally) so really family of 6. :) We definitely can’t do meatless dinners but I feel like I follow all of your other tips and still spend about 5 times what you do. :(

    • Rochelle says

      I use coupons but could never do a $50 a week budget with my family of 6. My limit is $100 a week but I have to do coupons religiously and have a good stoleckpile for when there aren’t a lot of sales. I struggle mostly with meet since my kids are not big chicken eaters.

  4. vanessa cortez says

    I just got back from vons and purchased 100%angus gr.beef on clearence for $2.50 for 1.35lbs. And 2 side dishes risotto asperagus and gonocchi mushrooms for 1.50 each. I was excited, were gonna eat great tonight.

  5. yvette martin says

    I purchased 40 cans of Del Monte green beans and Spinach for 19.20, which comes out to 48 cents a can. My growing teen son likes to eat the green beans straight from the can as a snack. I thought I got a good deal and was wondering what your thoughts on the subject.

  6. Trish says

    I’m seriously so impressed by you and this budget!! I only buy groceries for two and I still spend 3x what you do. It is rare for a day to pass without making at least one trip to the store for something, some days involve more than one trip. I really need to work better on planning and sticking to the plan!! Also need to cut down on hubs’ expensive beer and my wine;)

    • Kris says

      There are ways around the gas scenario. I am lucky to live in an area where I have Ralphs and Rite Aid within 2 blocks, Vons and Albertsons within 1 mile, 2-CVS’s and 2-Walgreens within 3 miles. I get all of my lists together, clip my coupons and start at the farthest store and work my way back home.

  7. wendrz says

    Can you post somewhere your frequent pork and or fish dishes so I can start adding them to my rotation? I have plenty of chicken and red meat ones, but want to add fish and pork but need some good pork dishes to entice me to add more to our meal list.


  8. Yunnie says

    Wow Josie! That’s crazy good. See you’re smart about the overage thing at Walmart and using the bucks/rewards. Veggie meals save a lot too!

    On the Dave Ramsey forum, a frugal family trying to get out of debt budgets $25 per person per week for food. So I thought we were doing great at $50 per week for me and the hubster! Doesn’t include toiletries though which we get super deals for with the help of your blog ($20 mo/avg). We also have a small “eating-out” budget separate from this.

    TIP: Take list and cash to the grocery store, no card, and you will definitely watch your budget!

      • Yunnie says

        Josie, I thought you were an exception and when I kept reading the rest of the posts, it seems MANY families of four can make it with our budget (for 2)!!! Looks like there’s room for improvement!

  9. Lucy says

    my grocery budget is $180.00 a month with a family of 5! It can be done, with some creaitve meals and good sale planning. (I use a lot of coupons- I don’t feel right if I don’t hand over Q’s to the cashier :) ) I might go over sometimes if we have a planned party or special dinner- but not too often. I LOVE this site becuase it helps me save so much money!!!
    Thanks Josie

    • meryl says

      I agree!! I have not calculated exactly how much I am spending at the grocery stores lately although I know it is waaaay down as *for the most part* I only buy stuff when it is or deeply discounted, or I have a voucher, etc.

      Josie you and the other frugal bloggers have made me rethink all about $$! Thank you! One thing I also wanted to add is that I take advantage of a lot of the deals you post like the American Express giftcard deal where you get $25- just for loading your money onto a card.

      Yes, it IS more work but you’re earning $25 for it! Now a lot of my efforts go to managing the grocery bill so I can focus on reducing other areas of my budget that also need a complete overhaul! I want to be [credit card] debt free- someday!!! I was almost there but some things needed attention and could not wait.

      The difference now is all I care about is getting rid of that debt whereas before paying interest was just a fact of life??? I commend you for the commitment to living within your means!!

  10. lindsey c says

    does that include your budget for toiletries and household needs or just specifically food? i am trying to get our budget nailed down and haven’t figured out what to budget for those things like toothpaste, paper towels, shampoo, etc. do you budget that separately?

  11. Mary D. says

    Once in a while I think about cutting down my budget but then comes some awesome deals and I do some more stock piling. :( We are also on the Dave Ramsey budget to extinguish our debt. (It has been awesome, and I highly recommend if you are in debt.) We spend about $250. for four weeks on groceries, cleaning supplies, make up and toiletries for a family of 4(Hubby, two teens and myself). My kids love all the deals we end up with the help of your site. Thanks Josie. . . .and everyone else. :)

  12. Kendra says

    Josie, I was curious if you are still juicing. And if so, are your juicing ingredients included in that $200 budget? I’ve started subbing out one or two meals a day with juice and boy do I go through those veggies quick! I haven’t yet been to my town’s farmer’s market but I’m hoping I can get some organic produce for less than I would spend at Ralph’s.

  13. mia says

    the $50 budget at week does work . what i do im my area theres store that offer wednesday veggies on sale and thursday meat sale .that when i stockup on meat and veggies . you can save a lot frezzing food .there also small grocery store that have meat packs for sale .I just bought a big pack which included meat,bacon,fish,turkey ham ,sausage links groundmeat,2diffrent kinds of streaksand chicken legs i endup geting about 25pound of meat for $30.and its fresh . I live in san bernardino
    and my month budget is only 200 includes grocery and house stuff . i make it work

  14. Stacy says

    I have a weekly grocery budget of $35 for two people. I usually spend about $10-15 of it on fruits and veggies. All of my toiletries (soap, toothpaste, razors, laundry products, lotions) I use are from my stockpile, I spend about $10 month if that on toiletries I don’t have. I started couponing a year ago when I lost my job. Now my husband and I have live off of $1600-$1700 a month, that includes mortgage and bills (0 carpayments) we both go to school (don’t qualify for financial aid). I use for new recipe ideas, 99 cent stores have name brands for snacks at a great price, Walmart for price match, farmer market for veggies. When I’m done with school in a year we will be better off, but for now we do just fine living within our means.

  15. Katie says

    I have been couponing for about a year now, and I have noticed a HUGE drop in our spending-thanks to Josie! I did not know how to construct a budget, so the last time that Josie posted this article, I decided to track my spending. I used excel, and found that even though I was using coupons, I was still spending about $250 on gas and dining out alone! I saw that Josie used $50 for 5, so I decided to start with $40 for our family of 2. After tracking my spending more closely, I have now gotten that number down to $35 for groceries/toiletries (although we could do $30, as I haven’t gone over yet). I put $6 every week towards the stockpile, which rolls over if I don’t spend it. Also, I set aside $10 for entertainment weekly (which rolls over as well), and $10 for fast food or dining out. This means that my expenses outside of gas are a max $61 a week. I used to spend about $200 a week on groceries alone! This has been such a lifesaver-we are almost out of all credit card debt due to the past 6 months of using excel daily to monitor (and CONTROL) our spending. We have also set up automatic transfers from our checking to savings account to ensure that we are saving, and I also try to add whatever we don’t spend from the $35 weekly to savings also. Thanks for all of your hard work Josie!!!!!

  16. Diane says

    Hi Josie – next time your price match and get produce at Wal Mart would you mind posting your trip? I would love to see how it is done. Thanks for all you do!

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