Fall has arrived and thoughts of comfort foods are starting to fill our minds. If we’re lucky and we have someone who loves to cook in our home, then our bellies are starting to fill as well. From butternut squash soup to chilis, enchiladas, and lasagnas, now is the time for some fun and satisfying recipes.

Grocery shopping on a budget isn’t always easy though, especially at this time of year. If you are wondering how to set a monthly grocery budget or how to put together a budget grocery list, then be sure to check out our list below. After all, groceries are something you need

How to Keep Your Grocery Budget in Check

It’s never easy figuring out how much to budget for groceries. During these times of COVID-19, it can be even more challenging, especially when we want to limit our outings and exposure to other people. Though masks help to reduce the risk of spreading our germs to others, wearing masks for too long can bring other concerns. 

The list below has been designed to provide some helpful tips and reminders on how to set a grocery budget and how to limit the time spent in the grocery store.

  1. Plan ahead. This might seem obvious, but when we get so busy with our daily lives, it can be easy to push this to the side, assuming we can figure it out as we walk down the grocery store aisles. But whether you need to create a grocery budget for two or a grocery budget for four or more, taking the time to plan will save you both time and money in the long run.
  2. Prioritize your favorites. Though the cooler weather can be motivating to try new recipes, try to limit this to just a few times per month. New recipes can be costly, especially if they require items that we don’t normally purchase and that you won’t use all of. Further, if the recipe doesn’t turn out, you’ll need a quick back-up plan that won’t require you to make an extra trip to the grocery or convenience store.
  3. Look in your pantry. After you know what you want to make for the next week or two, go through your pantry to see what staple items you already have and what you need more of. Spices, rice, boxed potatoes, and pasta are items you likely already have on hand. But if you don’t confirm it before you shop, you may find yourself buying items that you already have.
  4. Create a shopping list. Now, you know what you want to make and you have taken stock of what you already have in your pantry (and your refrigerator too). The next step is to take out a pen or paper or to open up that handy notes application on your mobile device. If you have Alexa, just say “Alexa, create a shopping list” and start rattling off your ingredients. Whatever approach you take, be sure to create a list of necessary items before you head to the store.
  5. Clip or print coupons. Over 90% of consumers use coupons at some point, and many Americans don’t shop without coupons. However, nearly 77% of consumers spend more than planned when redeeming coupons. When you create a shopping list in advance you can help curb unplanned purchases by only looking for the coupons you need to satisfy your list and bring your overall cost down. Avoid being tempted by coupon-items that seem like a good deal unless they are for items that can restock your pantry with frequently used items.
  6. Buy generic brands. Today’s generic brands are tasty and often far less costly than their name-brand counterparts. In some stores, generic or store-brand items will be conveniently stocked on shelves next to comparative name-brand products. In other stores, you may need to look on the bottom shelf or in a different section. Get to know your grocery store and the generic brands that they offer.
  7. Try frozen vegetables. We should all consume at least five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables each day. Unfortunately, produce can get quite costly. To save on your grocery budget, look for frozen vegetable options. In most cases, frozen vegetables retain many of their nutrients, making them a healthy and cost-effective solution.
  8. Shop in-season. As we stated before, with the start of fall comes the tastebud’s desire for home-cooking and comfort foods. If you want some fresh veggies in addition to some frozen staple items, be sure to focus on fruits and vegetables that are in season. From apples to winter squash, there are a host of vegetables and fruits that are far less costly in the fall than at other times during the year.
  9. Bring-your-own-bag. We all know that plastics can be bad for the environment. Even though more and more plastic bag manufacturers are using recyclable materials, it doesn’t mean that those bags are always appropriately recycled. For this reason and more, many grocery stores offer small discounts for customers who bring their own bags. So, either reuse your old plastic bags or bring other bags that you have lying around your home that could be used to tote those groceries home.
  10.  Embrace leftovers. Sure, it can be boring to have the same food multiple days in a row. But, leftovers are fantastic money savers and provide convenient options for lunches or dinners later in the week. Additionally, with so many Americans working from home, and kids home a few days of the week for virtual schooling, it can be a lifesaver to have a meal ready to go with just a few button-presses on the microwave.