How to Stick to Your 2022 Grocery Budget (Simple Tips for Success)

(Updated January 2022) When the money gets tight, it’s easy to stress about the one thing most families spend the most money on: groceries. It’s easy to get off track and suddenly spend more than necessary, only to have half of it rot in the fridge before the end of the week. Not to worry, though. Whether you are trying to stick to spending $100 or have a slightly different plan in mind, use these tips to stay on track with your 2022 grocery budget.

Tip 1: Create a Meal Plan

You’ve heard it before, but I’ll say it again – if you want to keep your budget intact, you have to have a meal plan.

It doesn’t have to be as complicated as those beautiful layouts you might find on Pinterest. Quite the opposite. A simple list on notebook paper or using this menu planning worksheet will do the trick. Just make sure you note all of the things your family plans to eat throughout your planning period.

Our breakfasts stay the same most days and lunches consist of peanut butter sandwiches or leftovers, so our meal plan is very straightforward from week to week. The key is to have the plan in place so you know what you have to purchase (helping you stick to your budget) and there’s no confusion when it comes to what you’ll eat each evening (eliminating the likelihood you’ll resort to takeout instead).

Tip 2: Inventory Your Cupboards

As you create your grocery list, take the time to check for ingredients you may already have in your cupboards. There’s nothing worse than going to make a meal and missing a key ingredient. Likewise, if you are trying to save money, you won’t want to unload your groceries only to find that you doubled up on things you already have.

Note: If you have older kids in the home, they can help with this task. Go through your meal plan and work with your child to determine what you have and what you need. He or she might even be excited to make the list for you. (Great spelling practice!)

Tip 3: Plan a “Night Off”

We can’t be “on” all of the time. Way too often something comes up or we just aren’t in the mood to cook what’s on the menu.

That’s okay.

The trick is to have a plan in place ahead of time so you don’t ruin your budget by making a spur-of-the-moment decision while you’re hungry and tired. (We all know those don’t turn out well…)

That’s exactly why we try to schedule a night off. This might be a “make your own meal” night or a dinner out, but we know ahead of time so that we can plan for any expense accordingly.

Note: We keep our “night off” flexible. If it’s been an extra-long day or we have commitments that take us into dinner time, we may choose to use that “freebie” on a day that it’s not planned for. In that case, we just shift the meal plan to accommodate it.

Tip 4: Embrace Left Overs

If your scheduled night off includes leftovers, you probably won’t want to pull that trick twice with your family. But, if not, it’s a great idea to schedule a leftovers night for your meal plan. We do this a lot with big meals such as homemade macaroni and cheese, ham dinner, beef stew, etc.

We’ve found the key to success with this is NOT to have the leftovers the next night. Wait a couple of days before you spring the meal on your family again. For example, if we have ham dinner on Sunday, we will likely have it again on Tuesday or Wednesday, depending on our schedule.

Note: You can always mix up those leftovers with different sides (think rice instead of potatoes) or use portions of leftovers from other meals to create a new meal. The sky is the limit.

Tip 5: Engage the Whole Family

One of the most overlooked (but critical) aspects of sticking to your grocery budget is having the entire family engaged in the process. That means that you, as the parent, should not be the only one making the meal plan. Involve your family so that everyone gets some say in what you’ll be eating this week. By doing so, you’ll keep everyone excited about the meals ahead.

Younger kids can help name the things they want to eat and inventory the cupboard and the fridge to make sure you have all of the ingredients. They can also help you create the grocery list, either by writing it themselves or telling you what to put on it.

Older kids can take it a little further. Your son or daughter may be able to take turns cooking a meal each week and may be able to consistently keep a running grocery list so you don’t have to inventory every week.

Your family’s skillsets may be different, so don’t hesitate to engage them wherever it’s appropriate.

Stick to Your 2022 Grocery Budget

Creating that 2022 grocery budget and sticking to it doesn’t have to be hard. By using these tips, you should be able to get the entire family on board and eliminate the need to overspend.

What are your favorite ways to stick to your grocery budget? Leave a comment below and let us know!