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Reduce Meals Prices with Our Grocery Planner Templates

Grocery purchasing on a price range is one in all budgeting’s best challenges—particularly as costs proceed to rise. Get organized and lower prices with our free value tracker and grocery planner templates.

Groceries have been a sore spot in my price range for years, and because the deadline approaches for assembly one in all my private monetary targets, I made a decision to essentially concentrate on this regularly fluctuating expense in order that I might funnel my financial savings in the direction of one thing that issues extra to me proper now. 

It’s taken loads of trial and error, however over the past yr and a half, I really feel like I’ve lastly dialed it in. I’m going to share some numbers and techniques, however please have in mind: Grocery costs fluctuate wildly throughout the US and past. What I share here’s what works for me in Maine. If I lived in NYC or Seattle or mainly wherever else, costs would most undoubtedly be completely different. My grocery invoice can be increased in some locations and decrease in others.

That’s why I don’t spend loads of time evaluating my grocery price range to others. I concentrate on my common since that’s an actual quantity that I can management. However with that being stated, implementing just a few of those methods and placing our free value tracker, kitchen stock, and meal planning printables (see under!) to make use of can assist scale back your meals price range, too. 

Additionally, for readability’s sake, grocery spending for me contains the whole lot I purchase on the grocery retailer excluding pet meals, which I monitor individually. (I’ve three cats and a canine, so I really want to know what they price me so I can put together appropriately.) Some individuals select to listing their family items like cleansing provides or paper towels right into a separate price range class. Do no matter works for you! 

Grocery Spending Historical past (it’s some huge cash)

Alrighty then, with that out of the best way, let’s take a look at a few of my grocery spending historical past. Being the price range nerd that I’m, I’ve knowledge going again to December of 2016. (To be honest, YNAB, my budgeting app, tracks this for me—managing this info alone for this lengthy would put me in a complete completely different class of budgeting glory.) 

A graph of spending data which shows that groceries averaged $261.38 per month in Erin's budget.
YNAB’s Spending Developments report reveals how a lot groceries have price via the years.

Can we simply cease for a second and take a look at that whole? I imply—wow. Over the previous 6+ years I’ve spent over $17,000 on groceries. As one particular person. That simply blows my thoughts. Oh, and that large spike within the center? That was my “Oh my gosh there’s a pandemic I have to go purchase all of the issues!!!” purchasing month. The spike just a few months later? I used to be sick that month and actually wanted a superb popsicle provide. Simply sayin’. Our price range tells the story of our lives. 

My month-to-month common over that point was $261.38. I’m purchasing only for me, and like I stated it contains non-food objects like shampoo, paper towels, cleansing provides—you get the thought. So actually, that’s not too dangerous. 

However over the previous few years, I began to essentially really feel that I might do higher and unencumber extra money. So I made a decision to intention for spending $200 a month on grocery objects. To be completely trustworthy, I wasn’t certain I might do it. However setting my objective uncomfortably low pressured me to concentrate to my grocery spending in a manner I hadn’t for some time. 

Seems I geek out on these items, so I made vital progress. 

Right here’s my grocery spending for 2021:

A graph showing that grocery shopping on a budget is paying off, with an average cost of $211.39 per month.

I used to be fairly dang near $200! I used to be actually happy with this. 

Then 2022 hit and meals costs have been on the rise. Actually, it didn’t have an effect on me at first (extra on that in a bit), however I’m feeling it now. But it surely’s making me shake my fist on the sky and say, “I can’t be deterred! I’ll keep at $200 a month for 2022! I can do that!” 

(Typically having a cussed aggressive streak is an asset!)

Scale back Your Grocery Funds 

Relating to grocery purchasing on a price range, you must resolve which lever is extra vital to you: time or cash.

Right here’s what I imply by that: Proper now, I’m keen to spend extra time (value purchasing, cooking, and so forth) so as to decrease my prices. Time is one thing I’ve and I take pleasure in engaged on this. Nevertheless, my buddy and colleague Ernie has three teenage boys. Time is valuable to him. So he’s keen to spend extra money on groceries if it frees up time in his life. 

The place I’m keen to drive to a couple completely different shops to get one of the best costs, Ernie’s philosophy is “I’m going to position the order on-line and simply do curbside choose up and increase—I’ve obtained my Saturday again.” (Sidenote: On-line ordering can also be an effective way to curb impulse shopping for.) 

I respect that. I’d in all probability really feel the identical manner if I had three youngsters. 

So I totally count on some individuals studying this shall be in Ernie’s camp and that’s A-OK. However for those who’re keen to place a while in, I’m your woman—and there’s quite a bit you are able to do to decrease your grocery spending.

Methods to Save Cash

If you happen to’re keen to spend somewhat time to economize, strive incorporating the next ideas, methods, and strategies into your purchasing, planning, and eating routines:

Obtain Our Grocery Planner Templates

There are such a lot of instruments out there to assist set up purchasing and meal occasions that it’s virtually overwhelming, which is why we tried to consolidate the whole lot you want into one helpful PDF useful resource that’s each editable and printable.

A pantry inventory page from our grocery planner templates workbook.
Right here’s a sneak peek on the first web page of the Pantry Stock in our Grocery Planner templates workbook.

Our free Grocery Planner templates embrace a pantry stock with areas for a restocking listing, meal concepts, and an avocado ripeness tracker (as a result of not ripe, not ripe, not ripe, rotten appear to be the levels of avocado existence), a fridge and freezer stock, and a weekly meal planning template. Hit the button under and obtain it to get began.

Free Grocery Planner Templates

Know Your Costs

I’ve three grocery shops I’m going to often which might be near me. I believed I knew the costs, however I wished to make certain. I’ve longed for an app that may monitor costs throughout the shops the best way I would like it to, however I haven’t had a lot luck discovering one. So I constructed a value tracker in Google Sheets. It was eye opening to say the least!

Seize your self a duplicate of my value tracker right here for those who’re . (Finest utilized by spreadsheet nerds). 

To make a duplicate, go to “File” and “Make a duplicate.” Principally, every row is an merchandise, and while you enter the costs for that row/merchandise, the cell with the bottom value turns inexperienced. 

The value variations between my shops have been stunning to me—I can’t stress that sufficient. Sure, it was work to construct it out, however now protecting it up to date takes a couple of minutes right here and there once I sit right down to construct a purchasing listing. Costs for many shops can be found on-line, which makes it a bit simpler, so examine between Walmart, Aldi, Amazon, and your native grocery shops. And also you don’t should do it multi function sitting. First, construct your grocery listing of things you often purchase. Then seize the costs for one retailer, then the subsequent retailer one other time.

The opposite factor about being attentive to costs on this manner is I do know a superb deal once I see one.

Preserve a Nicely-Stocked Pantry

I obtained higher at this through the pandemic and now I’m a professional. I might simply go two weeks with out purchasing with out blinking an eye fixed. Apart from that benefit, I may also whip up any variety of meals that I do know I’ll take pleasure in in a short time.

Our Grocery Planner templates embrace a list listing on your pantry, fridge, and freezer, and a meal planning template, so be sure you obtain that and also you’ll all the time know what to top off on. 

This additionally helps restrict journeys to the grocery retailer—the extra journeys I make, the extra I are inclined to spend. Try this weblog put up about the right way to go grocery purchasing as soon as a month

Deal with Your Common

As I discussed above, I control my common. I’m not nervous about spending the very same quantity each month. Some months I run above $200 if I come throughout some nice offers and wish to top off. When that occurs just a few months in a row, I do know there’s meals out there, so I prepare dinner from the pantry and freezer to carry down the common.

Recent produce is vital to me, so in months the place I’m attempting to spend much less, that’s the place I proceed to splurge. Having contemporary vegetables and fruit available makes it simpler for me to make wholesome meals. 

Purchase Generics (Retailer Manufacturers)

Mindy over at See Mindy Mother did a fascinating evaluation of manufacturers versus generics. I principally purchase retailer manufacturers, with just a few exceptions, so I used to be already doing this, however I had no concept how a lot cash it saved. If you happen to aren’t doing this, it’s value attempting. And for those who discover a retailer model of one thing you hate, effectively a minimum of now and you’ll return to the name-brand stuff guilt-free.

(Mindy is a superb useful resource for price range household meals. 10 out of 10 would advocate her channel.)

Meal Plan 

That is value your time and it doesn’t must be tremendous fancy. You don’t want to determine each snack for day by day. You simply want a framework. 

I do that on the weekend and prepare dinner just a few larger issues that I can reheat over the course of the week. Right here’s a typical weekly menu for me.


  • In a single day Oats with Strawberries and Blueberries
  • Scrambled Eggs with Oven Baked Dwelling Fries


  • Egg Salad Sandwiches (typically with do-it-yourself bread)
  • Tossed Salads. I make up a few half dozen of those and retailer them in particular person glass containers. I simply pull one out every day—increase—executed.


  • Taco Soup
  • Inexperienced Chili Hen Enchiladas


  • Fruit
  • Popcorn
  • Tortilla Chips with do-it-yourself salsa

That’s only one week, however it’s sufficient to maintain me glad and assist me keep away from take out. Use the meal planning template in our free printable to give you a simple meal plan of your individual. And take a look at this weblog put up on meal planning myths—it doesn’t should be troublesome or time consuming! 

Ten Go-Tos

One technique to preserve meal planning manageable is to determine what your high ten meals are; select issues which might be simple to make and budget-friendly. Right here’s my listing:

  1. Selfmade Pizza. I make this in a forged iron skillet. I make wonderful do-it-yourself pizza. It’s my superpower.
  2. Taco Soup (as talked about above)
  3. Burrito Bowls
  4. Selfmade Hen/Turkey Pot Pie
  5. Roasted Veggies with Grilled Hen Breasts
  6. English Muffin Pizzas—a little bit of an emergency meal for me. (Thanks Dad!)
  7. Baked Beans and Potato Salad
  8. Corn Chowder
  9. Selfmade Focaccia with Roasted Veggies
  10. Candy Chili Hen Bowls

Want some low-cost and simple meal concepts? We’ve obtained you lined.  

Eat What You Purchase

I’m satisfied all of us throw away an excessive amount of meals, myself included. (What number of occasions have these contemporary greens changed into a mushy mess?) So my newest objective has been to complete what’s within the fridge earlier than making one thing else. Typically meaning getting somewhat inventive, like turning that previously contemporary produce right into a smoothie. 

I additionally make an effort to not make an excessive amount of of anybody meal, and if I do make a giant batch of one thing, I’ll throw half within the freezer straight away. 

Purchase Elements, Not Processed Meals

You received’t see loads of processed stuff in my cabinets. For essentially the most half, I purchase components and use what I purchase throughout a number of recipes. There’s typically a mindset that for those who’re spending too little on meals, you’ll be able to’t be maintaining a healthy diet meals. I’ve not discovered that to be true. If I purchased all natural from the native farmer’s market, yeah that may price extra. (And if that’s vital to you—go for it!) 

However there’s simply no query that cooking from scratch saves cash. And the psychological overhead of getting ready a meal lessens as your expertise and habits get higher.

If you need assist studying to prepare dinner there are many channels on YouTube that may assist you. Simply search round. I discussed See Mindy Mother; I additionally like Meals with Maria and Frugal Match Mother. All three are nice for those who simply wish to binge watch to get concepts.

How I Battle Leftover Fatigue

Relating to leftovers, the wrestle is actual. I imply I loooove taco soup, however I don’t wish to eat it day by day for per week. That simply doesn’t work for me. The lengthy standing suggestion is to freeze half for later, and that works for some issues, however not a lot for others. 

I additionally prefer to prepare dinner extra typically, so these days I’ve additionally been doing the alternative: I prepare dinner a half batch as an alternative of a full batch. This provides me much less to eat via, saves freezer house, and I get to strive extra issues. 

If in case you have a giant household, this may increasingly not work as effectively for you so get within the behavior of dividing large batches into smaller parts and perfecting your freezing routine. 

All of this may look like loads of work, however you construct habits as you go. Make it extra manageable by selecting one space to enhance on first—begin evaluating costs, take stock of what you will have, create a listing of your 10 Go-To Meals, or work on a meal plan. 

Identical to you’ll be able to select which financial savings lever to tug (time or cash), you may as well select your individual tempo for revamping your grocery spending. Possibly you’re prepared for a 100-yard sprint to the end line of frugality with a whole overhaul of your meal planning and purchasing. Maybe you’re an extended distance marathon runner who must meander via Complete Meals just a few extra occasions. Any enchancment is an enchancment and saving in your grocery price range can assist you’re employed in the direction of attaining monetary targets that matter extra to you. 

So that you’ve downloaded our free Grocery Planner templates however have you ever began a price range? Attempt YNAB totally free for 34 days and luxuriate in much less cash stress with a monetary planning instrument that places your cash to be just right for you. 



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