Even though they are kind of a lot of work to write up, I enjoy sharing my Our $200 Grocery Budget: What I Spent & Saved this Week posts with you all.
I don’t do these posts because I think the way we live and grocery shop is so amazing. I do them because I love to help people save money.
These What I Spent & Saved posts allow me to share ideas and tips with you that help me save on our groceries, and then, in turn, can hopefully inspire you and give you ideas on ways that you can save too.
Many people are frustrated because they feel like it’s impossible to eat healthy on a budget. By showing exactly what I purchase on a tight budget, it gives people a chance to see that yes, you really can eat pretty healthy without needing to go broke.
I know many of you enjoy these posts because you have told me that you were inspired or that you learned something new that is helping you save. And seriously, when that happens it totally makes my day because I realize that my goal for these posts was accomplished!
But I’ve had a nagging worry ever since I first started doing these What I Spent & Saved posts 5 ½ years ago. Occasionally I’ve addressed it in my spending posts and in my response to people’s comments. And I’ve said it countless times to readers that I’ve talked to in real life.
But I feel like it needs to be said here too, in a blog post that hopefully will be seen by most of you.
So what is it that worries me? Simply that these posts will make you feel inadequate or less than because you don’t have a $200 grocery budget, or because you don’t coupon as much as I do, or because you hate grocery shopping. I worry because I know that as women we are so quick to do that, to compare ourselves with someone else, to feel inadequate.
And I really, really don’t want to be an enabler of that.
So I just want to be perfectly clear: I don’t expect everyone else to have a $200/mo. grocery budget. And I believe that you can be frugal and spend more than $200/mo. too!
Why You Shouldn’t Have a $200/Mo. Grocery Budget
(even though we do!)
1. We all have different strengths
One of my strengths is being able to save money. In fact, I’m wired in such a way that I almost can’t keep myself from looking at life through the lens of frugality!
But you know what? There are plenty of other things that I don’t do so well.
I’m not a natural when it comes to decorating. It takes a lot of thought and effort for me to make a room look lovely. And I feel totally overwhelmed if I try to tackle a craft project because for as long as I can remember, creating things like that has just felt frustrating.
And while I love the idea of preserving memories with beautiful scrapbooks, I’ve finally accepted the fact that it’s just not my thing and I don’t even bother to attempt it.
I don’t have a garden and I’m not an outdoor sort of person who loves creating beautiful flower beds.
Chances are, your strengths are quite different from mine and honestly, I think our diversity is part of what makes the world so interesting!
If being frugal doesn’t come naturally for you, that’s okay. No, it doesn’t give you a free pass to spend your money carelessly. But it does mean that how you spend your money is going to look different than what it does for me.
Or maybe you are frugal by nature, but still spend $450/mo. on groceries. You don’t necessarily need to feel bad about that either because….
2. We all have different needs and preferences
We eat fairly simple meals. I think that our meals are tasty and filling and honestly, we enjoy the way and don’t feel deprived.
But we pretty much never eat steak (unless we go out to eat!) and meats are often served more as a side than as a main dish.
In the winter, we eat a lot of soups not only because we love them, but also because they are frugal. And we don’t have food allergies or eat organic (unless I can get it really inexpensively).
Your family’s needs and preferences are going to look different than ours.
Your husband might really like to have large servings of meat at every meal and be pretty opposed to meatless meals. Or maybe he feels like soups shouldn’t really even be considered food.
You might have a child that is gluten intolerant. And eating only organic may feel super important to you.
That is okay! Your family is not mine, my family is not yours. There is no cookie cutter grocery budget that will fit everyone’s needs.
3. We all have different demands on our time
I’m not gonna lie. Shopping frugally, especially if you use coupons like I do, take a decent amount of extra time.
Many weeks I spend three hours planning my shopping trip and doing the shopping. It’s not that my life isn’t busy or that I don’t have plenty of other things to do, but for a variety of reasons, my husband and I have decided to continue to make this way of shopping a priority.
For us, at this point the benefits outweigh the negatives. But there may come a time when we decide otherwise.
You know your life, your schedule. Only you know what you have time for and it may be that even if you would love to coupon and deal shop, that you simply can’t right now due to life circumstances.
We all have to know our limits, to decide what is best for us.
The bottom line…
Yes, I think it’s important to shop smart and be mindful of how we spend the money that God has trusted us with.
But I think it’s equally important to remember that it is going to look different for everyone.
So, if you’ve been feeling bad that you spend more than $200/mo. on your groceries, go ahead and extend yourself some grace.
And remember, it doesn’t necessarily mean you aren’t frugal!
However…if you are looking for more ways to lower your grocery budget, you might enjoy getting some inspiration from these posts!
What a kind and thoughtful post Lydia. Its so true we tend to compare ourselves and then feel crushingly inadequate when we don’t measure up to others. I was more frugal when we had a young family and less money. But now retired and just the two of us its not as important, but I still stock up on sales for the freezer and won’t buy something that’s exhorbitant even if I want it! Just can’t do it. We buy pork and beef from a local farmer at $3/lb, buy chicken on sale and more for freezer. Hardly ever buy organic its too pricey! Its foolish to spend recklessly on groceries and saving is always important no matter our age or circumstances Thank you for another thoughtful post!
Thanks, Linda! And yes, in my 12 years of being a homemaker there sure have been seasons where we weren’t as tight and I loosened up some on grocery spending too. And I’m sure that will happen more once my husband is done school and working at a job again. But like you, I doubt that I’ll ever be able to buy something that is exhorbitant…being frugal is just too much a part of who I am! 🙂
I don’t often meet someone as frugal and tight as I am, but I think u might be a soul sister in that department!! I love reading ur blog. Ive done a 200.00 budget for a long time but I have loosened up a bit cause it’s hard to be able to have company and make plenty of food for others and stick to it.
Hey, frugal soul sister! So glad to meet you! And I’d love for you to chime in here more with your tips and tricks, cause I’m sure you plenty and we could all benefit from the things you’ve learned.
And yeah, we’ve had a $225/mo. budget for a year or two now and may actually bump it up to $250 later this year depending how difficult it is to stick to $225. Part of what’s hurting it right now for me is the cost of eggs (around $2/doz.) and milk (close to $4) in this area. We have somewhat high prices on other stuff too but those two staples are things that I can’t totally do without, you know?