Bothering with grocery budget?

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-09-2002
Bothering with grocery budget?
14
Sat, 09-22-2012 - 8:08pm

Hi all,

I am not sure how/why people do a grocery budget.  It might sound like a really dumb question, but  basically, doesn't it make sense to buy what you need and only what you need?  I admit, I am not a good saver/budgeter so my question is not flip.  

99% of the time, it is just me at home.  I am married, but due to work, living apart from my husband for the next year.   

Anyway, I lost 30 pounds years ago and I will keep it off and I won't be overwight again - I feel very healthy now and it is wonderful. I am into CrossFit as a workout.  I've always been active, but kicked up the workouts big time this past year and I'm in better shape now than I ever have been so I am going to stick with it (I do it for free with a group of guys who are great coaches so thankfully not payment to a facility).  

I noticed alot of the reason I gained weight was diet, even though I never drank soda or ate dessert, and I was always what appeared to be a "healthy" eater - no french fries, fast food, etc., but I had a TON of bread, pasta and rice in my diet.   After I started CrossFit, I also started eating more "primal".  Basically, I eat lots of protein in the form of chicken, eggs and greek yogurt, etc.  I eat a ton of veggies and the only carbs I really get are sweet potoatos, totilla wraps and oatmeal.   (I love eating whatever I want carb wise on the weekend, which is basically a burrito and a bagel in one day - big splurge haha) , but during the week, I even make my own cereral and admittedly, it is pricey - a few different kinds of nuts each morning mixed with fruit and almond milk.  My stomach used to always hurt after lunch prior to this lifestyle, but now, it never hapens.  

The meat and eggs I buy are free range/humane rasised and that is a non-negotiatble for me, so that budget item won't change.  I eat avocados too for health, and those are $2 a pop and I get a few for the week, but  I do drink really cheap coffee (Folgers huge container) and if I buy wine, it is really cheap ($3.50/bottle at Whole Foods).  

I don't do any budget for grocieries - I buy what I need and I don't waste it.  So, for a single person whose diet doesn't change much at all, I guess I don't understand the importantance of a grocery budget.  Am I missing something?  Even for a family, isn't it just buy groceries when you need them an what you need?  Does anyone else feel like this?  

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iVillage Member
Registered: 04-16-2008
Sat, 09-22-2012 - 9:48pm

Yup.  Perfectly understand where you are coming from.  I don't have a grocery budget, either, but I do my budget differently than most people here anyway.

I am very picky about food, too, and only get meat from farmers I know.  There are two reasons I see having a grocery budget:

1.  Avoid spluring on expensive foods of the same category too often. 

For example, I can get my proteins from black beans, quinoa, dairy and eggs, chicken, red meat, and seafood.  Obviously black beans is the cheapest and seafood is the most expensive.  While I need to have a mix of various sources of proteins, I can have mostly beans and eggs and some chicken to keep the cost down, or have mostly bison and diver scallops and sea bass if I want to splurge.  Same with veggies.  I can have cabbage and carrots (which are super cheap), or fennel and morels (cost quite a bit more, but yum) ... 

2.  As a "place holder" to get an idea how much you spend on food so that you could budget for other things.

 

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-08-2008
Sat, 09-22-2012 - 9:59pm
FYI - Mama tortilla makes a low carb tortilla that is absolutely fantastic! They are way better than regular ones. I have to hide them bc my DH and sons prefer them too and I can't keep them in the house ;-)

Dee
iVillage Member
Registered: 04-08-2008
Sat, 09-22-2012 - 10:03pm

Of course I have a budget - if I didn't, then I could buy lobster & steak every week!!

Take out is a big problem for us so we include it in our FOOD (not grocery) budget. One month we spent $1100 on food in one month so we realized we had to stick to a budget. Now we only spend $800/mo including take out. Which sounds like a lot but food here in Canada is way more expensive. Even take out is more expense - we don't have the $5 footlong from Subway or the $4.99 chicken nugget deals...we always pay full price!

Dee

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-15-2012
Sun, 09-23-2012 - 12:50am

But in away you do have budget.  I bet if you tracked your spending you would find you spend around the same amount every month.  It is not easy to just "buy what you need" when shopping for a family.  They may see their needs different than what I would say.  Taking them along almost always ensures a higher food bill. (not anymore though since I enforce our budget). 

My budget has not stopped me from buying what I want like buying  organic veggies or free range eggs etc.  What I found I was doing was buying TOO MUCH when it was on sale etc.  I have learned that every few weeks the same sales happen over and over again and so I stopped stocking up like I used to.   Having a budget does not mean I am skimping on quality food.  My budget reflects the fact that I do buy organic. 

I guess I veiw a budget differently.  A budget for me keeps me ON TRACK with my financial goals where as your posts suggest a budget is restrictive??  I don't see it that way.  I have financial goals I want to achieve and a grocery budget is a small part of the making that goal/dream a reality. 

Sandra

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-08-2006
Sun, 09-23-2012 - 6:33am
I think we are all still struggling with what 'budget' means. We all have only a limited amount of money...some have a big number...some have a smaller number. But we all have a finite amount. We have control over how much we spend on everything...we can live with relatives or in a mansion(if someone loans us the money). We can drive a fancy shmancy car that gets no mileage or a beat up but great mileage car. We can have cable or not. But usually, these are expenses that are hard to change quickly. From the money that comes in each month, you have to pay certain amounts to certain bills. Food and entertainment are easy to change week to week, month to month. So, sadly, is savings. Whether you go to the store with an amount of what you will spend in mind determines whether you have a food budget. If you don't then you may be taking money from some other category without actively making a choice. If that place is entertainment, that's ok. If that place is add to debt, that is not so good. If that place is savings, also not good. How much each of us needs to spend on food, and how much we choose to spend on food are different numbers. Subsistence eating is much lower cost than most of us spend...and I am not suggesting that we should unless we need to do it temporarily to keep a roof over our heads to buy time to lower other expenses that take longer to change. I live alone too, and I don't have a strict amount that I spend each week. But I do have a maximum amount that I allow myself to spend on certain items, and an amount that if something is that price or lower, I stock up. And I plan my meals based on what is in the house or what is in the pantry and freezer. If I go over on food, it comes from entertainment. I put eating out in the entertainment category, so if I buy more groceries, I eat out less. My mom had a great saying 'tell your money where to go, don't ask it where it went'. Having a food budget is part of that.
iVillage Member
Registered: 04-16-2008
Sun, 09-23-2012 - 12:47pm

From the money that comes in each month, you have to pay certain amounts to certain bills. Food and entertainment are easy to change week to week, month to month. So, sadly, is savings. Whether you go to the store with an amount of what you will spend in mind determines whether you have a food budget. If you don't then you may be taking money from some other category without actively making a choice. If that place is entertainment, that's ok. If that place is add to debt, that is not so good. If that place is savings, also not good.

I think part of it is I hate micromanaging my money, so what I do is pay bills and put away savings first, then whatever left is to be spent as I want.  If I spend too much on food, then perhaps no eating out for that month.  If I spend too much on clothes, then perhaps a week of lower costs food.  There is no danger cutting into bills and savings as those are already taken care of.  At the end it all works out.  In a sense I do not have a grocery budget, but just a broad category "spending money after paying bills and putting away savings" that includes everything from food to clothing to personal items to gas to gifts to travel.

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-09-2002
Sun, 09-23-2012 - 1:13pm

Ah thank you all so much your responses make perfect sense!  And great to know on the tortillas yay thank you!

My eating is SOO BORING I laid out everything I do eat haha.  No steak, no seafood.  Chicken is the only meat I eat, so it is rue as someone said, my budget doesn't change.   (Sure, if I go out, but that is rarely.)    I eat for health, not taste (obviously haha boring) and Ihave never been into food much, so that is why I coudn't see doing a budget for regular grocery items.  I know what I spend each month and I buy eggs when I run out, etc., so it didn't make sense.  But if I had a family, differemt story for sure.  

Thanks!

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-08-2008
Sun, 09-23-2012 - 2:39pm
that was a typo - It's Mama LUPA, not tortilla...I had tortilla on the brain, LOL.

if you only eat chicken and lay everything out than you ARE on a budget. You just know your routine and budget amount so well, you no longer need to think about it. I am nowhere new that. I have made changes from chicken breasts, to cutting up whole chickens myself...making my own granola bars (and still buying them, but just not as much)...adding more hamburger into our diet even tho no one likes it (it's cheaper)...etc...

We often buy on sale items to keep our menus fresh. DH & I spent the other night peeling shrimps for dinner bc there was a VERY good sale on them and we rarely buy them.

Dee
iVillage Member
Registered: 05-09-2002
Sun, 09-23-2012 - 8:18pm
aha thanks! and my keyboard isn't working well so I had a ton of typos up there sorry about that!
iVillage Member
Registered: 04-08-2008
Mon, 09-24-2012 - 1:51am
no, I meant the typos were mine :smileysad: I often have a toddler or two on one arm or another trying to see what I'm doing on the computer.

Dee

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