Project Food Budget Recap: Lessons Learned from Keeping a Grocery Budget

Over the past few weeks I joined Emily Levenson and a few other bloggers for Project Food Budget, and on every Friday's menu post I've also included my grocery budget and actual total spent. While keeping a grocery budget is nothing new for me, I've never really shared the details about it here before. Tracking my spending, along with splurges and savings along the way, has been a great learning experience. I've learned a few things about meal planning and grocery shopping that help me stay on budget.

How not to suck at grocery budgets. |

Look at the grocery store ad before you go to the store. I use the weekly ad to help me plan each week's meals. I also plan ahead to see what freezer-friendly (such as meat) and pantry staples are on sale so I can stock up accordingly.

Don't be afraid to change a recipe to suit your needs. I used to follow every recipe to the tee, but now I make the meals I cook work for me rather than the other way around. For example, pork chops and chicken breasts are easily interchangeable (you may just have to adjust cook times slightly). Also, meals like burrito bowls and stir fries are great for using up leftover vegetables in the fridge, even if they're different from what the recipe calls for. You know what you like, be creative!

Plan ahead and shop ahead. I know it's hard to find time to sit down and plan out a week's worth of meals, but believe me, going into the week with a menu and a stocked fridge and pantry really helps keep the temptation of takeout at bay.

Treat yourself. When you're shopping on a budget, sometimes it's easy to feel like you're depriving yourself. When you feel that way grocery shopping becomes no fun at all and starts to feel like such a chore. (I realize that for some of you, it feels like that regardless.) However, if you allow yourself little splurges or treats here and there, cutting back on other things seems more manageable. My favorite grocery store splurges and treats are ice cream (of course!), fancy cheese, and fresh basil. (And apparently, quinoa.)

How do you save money at the grocery store? 

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