Friday, November 20, 2015

What to do when you blow your food budget - an analysis of what went wrong

A couple of weeks ago, I shared how we totally blew our food budget and how I wanted to figure out why.

One of the reasons was that we were making way too many trips to the grocery store - 41, in fact. Some of this was a result of being out of town for two weekends and playing catchup during the week.

Another reason was that I took advantage of too many stock-up sales, and not always on things that were necessities. We have a gluten-free eater in our family, and we were at Trader Joe's in Kansas City where brown rice pasta is only $1.99/lb. Knowing that we aren't in town all the time, I purchased ten bags, and then I purchased $20 worth of feta cheese and pecorino romano (again, their prices are better, but was it a necessity?)

Yet another reason was that I borrowed too much from the future to pay for the present. What I mean by this is that I often justify stocking up sales at the beginning of the month, only to have something like $25 left for the last week of our month. This month, and in the month of December, I am trying to stay within a weekly budget for food.

I wrote most of this post at the beginning of November, but something in me held off on posting it, because if there's anything I get tired of, it's making resolutions that are unrealistic. So instead, I made an internal note-to-self to do two things this month: try to avoid multiple trips to the grocery store, and don't overspend at the beginning of the month.

I'm happy to report that midway into the month of November, we are on track for our food budget. Each week, I have sat down, looked at the sales ads on Wednesday (am I the only one who gets excited on Wednesday mornings because the new ads come out from the supermarkets?) and start working on a list on my spreadsheet. If there is an item I would like to stock up on, I list it, including quantities, price, etc. but I also make a menu for the week and prioritize eating now vs. eating later. (I have realized that sometimes I stock up on future things while neglecting immediate needs, like more bananas, or bread. Then comes the inevitable trip to the grocery store on Thursday or Friday when we've run out of our necessary items.) I total up my purchases (yes, I actually have most prices memorized because I shop primarily at Aldi) and  if the total is too high, I take some of our stock-up items off the list.

What about you? Are there strategies that you use to keep your food budget in line? Share below in the comments - I'd love to hear your ideas!


  1. Hi! I have been browsing around your blog. I totally understand the struggle to not overspend on stocking up! Spending too much money on great grocery deals is one of my biggest budget busting temptations!
    I am really enjoying reading your blog!

    1. Thanks for visiting, Kim! I just looked at our food spending a couple of weeks ago, and was floored by how much my stocking up had already cost. At least I caught it early and hopefully we'll come in under budget this month.


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