Tips for Building Your Own Grocery Budget

Debt-Free Dining, Debt-Free Finances
  1. Use a calorie calculator to figure out how many calories you need to consume each day. 

    I’m not an obsessive calorie counter, but knowing how many calories you need each day will give you a great starting point for grocery list planning and daily meal prep.

    Remember, if you’re buying a week’s worth of groceries the total amount of calories in the food that you’ve purchased should be roughly the same as your recommended daily caloric intake multiplied by 7.

  2. Check out Canada’s Food Guide and make sure that your grocery list is well balanced. 

    So here’s the deal: if you don’t have a well rounded diet you will likely end up over-eating. This basically means that you will spend more, eat more, and get less out of your money and your food. Not to sound too preachy, but if you don’t eat nutritious foods you can get seriously sick. Story time: I know a girl who got scurvy in university (that’s right, the pirate disease) because she lived off low-nutrient processed foods… sorry Mr. Noodles, although you’re a delicious quick fix, you’re just not a solid every-meal-every-day food.
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    3. Keep a food diary to make sure that you’re honest with yourself about 1 and 2.

    Food diaries are great. Okay, well actually, they’re pretty tedious, quite annoying and sometimes shameful, but the ability to take an honest look at what you’ve been eating can totally help you pinpoint allergies, nutrient deficiencies and major points of blowing your budget on late night pizza.

    If the idea of literally carrying around a journal full of what you’re eating sounds lame to you, worry not, there are plenty of great high-tech tools and alternatives.

    4. Check grocery flyers to make sure that you have a realistic idea of the cost of food in your area. 

    This one is mostly for first year university students or anyone who has recently relocated. If you’re not use to buying groceries in your area, or buying groceries period, you can set yourself up for budget failure by using outdated or inaccurate item pricing.

    Figuring out the average cost of grocery items that you usually use is also the first step to figuring out when you can take advantage of a wicked sale!
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    5. Figure out your weekly and monthly expenses.

    Set up a budgeting system that doesn’t leave you high and dry when you need to restock a giant bag of flour, a super-sized sack of rice, or any of those other bulk purchases that give you oh so much bang for your buck.

    I usually set a weekly budget (usually about $20) for things that expire quickly or that I use frequently- milk, eggs, produce, canned beans, etc.- and a second monthly budget (usually another $20 will be more than enough) for things that I buy in bulk- oats, rice, dried beans, flour, etc.

    6. Give your budget a trial run and readjust as needed.

    If you find yourself feeling tired or hungry go over your grocery budget again and reconsider your calculations. Staying healthy should always be your number one priority: there’s nothing frugal about missing work or class because of a preventable illness!

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