How to grocery shop on a budget (successfully!)

Sheesh it’s been a while! But with the weather warming up again I’m feeling a bit more motivated to share some of the success I’ve had with sticking to my grocery budget.


white and black desk calculator on white graphing paper
Photo by Pixabay on

1. Determine how much you’ve been spending.

You can do this in a number of ways – my preferred method is by exporting my bank transactions for the previous month (December is probably not the best one to go with) and then sort it by the description. There are some really fantastic excel formulas that could make this super quick for you but for the purpose of this exercise just highlight any that are grocery store/butcher/greengrocer related and add them up. Take a good look at that number. Multiply it by 12 then divide it by 52 – this is your weekly spend.

2. Set your new budget.

To do this, you’ll need to be realistic. My budget will not suit you – my food preferences are not yours and I don’t know what challenges you may have with allergies or diet. It will also have to fit with the rest of your responsibilities in terms of bills. Let me say here that setting the lowest figure you can is not the goal at this point. Right now you’re setting aside money for this expense.  I’d recommend a weekly amount which you can then multiply by 2 if you shop fortnightly it 4.3 for monthly. Got your number?

photograph of person holding black leather wallet with money
Photo by EVG photos on

3. Withdraw this amount in cash.

You heard right!


Recently after learning about the “CAP money course” and assisting to deliver the course I’ve been using cash. There’s evidence to suggest that it’s more difficult to part with cash which means that on average you spend between 12 – 18% less than when using your card. Forbes states this figure is closer to 100% when using a credit card. If the money runs out early, I improvise with what’s left in my fridge, freezer and pantry. Or make things like bread, yoghurt etc. I don’t withdraw more money (and avoid the temptation to use my card).

4. Meal plan and make a list.

Here is a whole series on how to meal plan that I’ve previously written about (and still follow). Once you have your list, you may want to decide where to go shopping and estimate how much it will cost either through use of catalogues, previous receipts or online shopping websites.

apple business fruit local
Photo by Erik Scheel on

5. Let’s go shopping!

I’ve found shopping only once a week to keep my costs down. However, since using cash it doesn’t matter as much as when the money runs out it’s time to improvise.

There are 2 ways lately that I’ve been shopping. Sometimes there’s an enticing flybuys offer that means overall I’m spending the same as if I went to different shops, and I do an online click and collect order and only withdraw the difference between what I’ve spent and what I’ve budgeted. So convenient!

Other times I check out the catalogues and then shop at all the grocery stores. So cheap!

So with knowing the history of my spend, how much I’m allocating for groceries based on that and other expenses, making my list and using cash – I’m achieving my goal! The important thing to remember is to stick to your list. And when the money is gone, time to get creative!

If you like what you’ve read or have some tips for me, please share the post and leave me a comment 😁.

All photos by Pexels.

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