Hello everyone! I am super excited to share with you our family grocery expenses for February 2020. One of my big financial goals is to save money on groceries since, after our mortgage, this is our most significant family expense. The progress of my big goal to save money on groceries has been astonishing to me.
I started paying attention to what I am spending in December of 2019 when I started meal planning. Before then, I would just go to the store whenever to buy whatever. I thought that having a grocery list was enough to make a plan to feed my family. But I have been so wrong for many years. When I created my own system to set a grocery budget, plan meals, and shop with purpose, I was able to reduce my spending by a fourth.
Watch it on video!
I was spending on average between $1,200 and $1,300 per month for a family of two adults, two kids, ages 13 and 15, and two big dogs. I started in December, intending to cut my spending to $1,000. It has been a learning process, but the results are evident. Both in January and February, I was able to stay under $1,000 per month.
So, I’m going to give you a quick recap, and I’m going to tell you how I am doing this so that you can get some ideas to save on groceries as well. You can watch the video recap or follow along with this post, where I will be showing you screenshots of my budget and meal plan.
I should also mention that I was surprised to learn that my spending is not far from how much a family of four in the United States spends on food on average. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the monthly cost of food at home for a family of four ranges from $857 to $1,300. You can check this infographic for more information on weekly and monthly food costs for families in America.
How I Budget And Track My Monthly Family Grocery Expenses
Many of you have seen my Smart Grocery Shopping & Meal Planner. This is a tool, a workbook that I created to help myself set a budget, create a meal plan, and track my grocery expenses.
How I Used To Do Grocery Shopping
For a long time, I didn’t understand meal planning. I used to do write down items on a list and head over to the store with that shopping list. Then, I would spend all this money, come home, and have no idea what to cook for dinner. I had a bunch of ingredients and no meal plan. That was to be my failed system for over 15 years. How pathetic is that?
I thought I was doing it right because that’s what I see most women and men do at the store. They are shopping with a grocery list. What I didn’t realize until later is that going to the store with a shopping list is a waste of money and time. I needed a better system to actually budget, put a meal menu together, and a corresponding shopping list.
How I Do Smart Grocery Shopping Now
What I do now with the help of my Smart Grocery Planner is to first set a grocery budget for the month. Secondly, I spread that amount among each week of the month. And finally, I create a weekly meal plan and list to shop with intention.
You always need to start with a set budget, which I didn’t use to do before, I would just go to the store and shop. Then, you need to track your spending and evaluate every single week how things are going. Evaluating is very important because if you overspend one week, you need to cut down the next week; otherwise, you will blow the budget at the end of the month.
So, let’s look at my February 2020 totals to show you exactly how I do it. I’ll be showing you the screenshots on the blog post and the video.
Our Actual February 2020 Family Grocery Expenses
Like I said, start each month with a set grocery budget. My goal for February was to spend $1,000 or less on groceries. My actual spending, guys, this is a great moment, I stayed under $1,000! In all, I saved $153 this month, which means that my total monthly spending on groceries was about $846.
My February 2020 grocery spending breakdown:
- Week #1: $255
- Week #2: $233
- Week #3: $192
- Week #4: $164
Now, you need to know that I also had one of my worst weeks since starting meal planning, and one of my best weeks. What am I talking about? Before I started using this system, I would go to the grocery store, basically every other day or every day. Because I didn’t have a meal plan, I would “run real quick to Walmart” to get something for dinner every other night.
I started this whole system to avoid that. But for grocery budgeting and meal planning to work, you need to prepare in advance. And the truth is that in the first week of February, I did not do my plan. And I need to tell you this because you need to know this journey is not going to be perfect.
Budgeting for anything is an imperfect practice. It is a process that requires time and attention. Even when you fall off the bandwagon, as I did, you need to pick up the pieces and try again.
So, because I didn’t do any meal planning, I went to the store six days out of seven days. I made a lot of small purchases, like $30, $18, $81, $25. And this is what I am trying to avoid and what I don’t want you to do. This is precisely the problem that will lead to overspending.
That’s what happens when you don’t have a plan. But, what happens when you do have a plan? Well, you can see in week two, I went to the store and did my grocery shopping, my big grocery shopping on Sunday. That’s what I try to do. I try to get it done on the weekend and then use the items I buy to prepare my weekly meals.
As you can see, I tracked a few store visits, mainly because I monitor both my husband and my purchases. I have to log all of them because they’re part of the same grocery shopping budget. Sometimes he goes for something that he needs that wasn’t part of the plan on my shopping day. But this doesn’t mean that I was running to the store every other day.
Now, let’s look at week three. I did my shopping on Sunday, and then I did not go to the store again until Friday. We usually eat bake at home pizza on Fridays, so I went to the store to pick it up. So, week #3 of February 2020 was awesome! I totally achieved my goal.
And then, week #4, this is what I call a perfect week. On week four, I did my shopping on Sunday and used those ingredients to cook at home for the entire week. As you can see, there’s a purchase on the 28th of the month, which is a Friday. But that was my husband and my son that went to buy some Gatorades and stuff they needed. It was not me, I promise! But it still is part of the grocery budget.
February 2020 Family Grocery Expenses Review
Let’s look at the monthly expenses. I stayed under budget, and as you can see, on week #1, I overspent. My budget was $1,000, which split four ways for the four weeks of February, equals to $250 weekly grocery allowance. So, I overspent on week one, and then I made it up the rest of the month. I even stayed under budget, which is fantastic!
Now let me show you a little bit of what my execution looked like. As you can see, in week #1, there was no meal plan, and there were a lot of visits to the grocery store. I made a list of how many times I went, six times in all out of seven days, and that is pathetic!. That’s what I’m trying to avoid.
On week #2, I had a plan, and guess what, I did it! I actually stayed under budget, spending $234.
On week #3, I had a plan, and not only did I stayed within the budget, I saved a lot! This is so exciting. This is what you need if one week you overspend on food, you make it up cutting down the following weeks.
On week #4, I stayed almost a hundred dollars under budget! That is amazing, guys.
I think you should give this practice a try because this system will change your spending, which in turn can change your life. If you are not doing meal planning, I’ll totally recommend that you to start trying meal planning with purpose out!
In Conclusion: Our Family Grocery Expenses For February 2020
I decided to create this grocery budgeting and meal planning system out of a need to stop overspending on groceries. So far, it’s working very well. As I told you earlier, I used to spend between $1,200 and $1,300 on groceries every single month for a family of four, two adults, two teenagers, and two dogs.
I have been able to stay below the $1,000 mark. My new goal is to keep grocery spending under $900 per month. I am happy to share with you that my February goal was exceeded and that I am thrilled with the results. We’ll see how March goes!. I’ll keep you updated!
This system works not only to save money but also to save time. We just have to plan ahead and execute. I hope that sharing this inspires you to also get ahold of your grocery spending. Because the most important takeaway from this is not just saving money, but being able to use those savings to advance another financial goal.
What keeps me committed and motivated is the idea of using my savings to add to my household emergency fund, my vacation fund, or to pay down the mortgage. If you are in debt, you can use your grocery savings to get out of debt faster. If you don’t have debt, you could use this money to invest.
Practice Intentional Grocery Shopping
So many opportunities open up when you start paying attention to where your money is going. The practice of smart spending and intentional living may sound romantic for some, but it really matters. Being deliberate will help you make a lot of progress.
If you want to get my Smart Grocery Shopping & Meal Panner Toolkit, you can check out my shop here.
Now, tell me how much are you spending on average on groceries? And what is your new spending goal? I would love to know how you will use your savings to advance other financial goals, so please scroll down and leave me a comment. I respond personally to all of them!
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