Do You Know Your Grocery Budget? (October Challenge)

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I’ve shared before just how valuable I believe it can be to have a pre-determined set grocery budget, and one PPP reader is doing a fantastic job sticking with hers (so I thought she might motivate us all to get on board in October!)  PPP Reader Denise has decided to spend $400 each month on groceries for family of four (including 2 teenage boys!), and has been doing a fantastic job pinching those pennies.


Our own family budgets about $60-$70 right now each week for groceries.  That includes everything . . . toiletries, paper products, snacks, meals, and a few items each week to donate.  So far it’s still working for us, but as groceries are definitely going up in price (and my kids seem to keep eating more and more. . . ), we may at some point decide to increase our budget by a few dollars each week.  Here’s the nuts and bolts of how our budget works for us:

(Sometimes I can’t believe I share this stuff with you guys, but I know I like to see real numbers that work for real people, so hopefully it will help you determine your own budget if you haven’t already!) :)


Each Friday when my husband gets paid (every two weeks) we take out $400 in cash.  This money covers groceries, school fees for my kids, eating out, and any miscellaneous expenses that pop up. Here’s *about* how we allocate that $400:


  • $140 for groceries
  • $60 for eating out after church each Sunday (we go out every week after church, so $30 per week)
  • $60 for one additional meal out each week ($30 per week, sometimes we’ll stretch it further by ordering pizza or using great coupons while we’re out!)
  • $30 for my hubby and I to have lunch once a week (although we’ve missed that the last two weeks ~ ugh!)
  • $100 for miscellaneous expenses (this includes things like a $20 for a shirt my son needed today for band, extra money to go to a high school football game on Friday night, a date night babysitter, etc.)


Many Dave Ramsey followers like to have their budgets broken up more specifically, but this is what works for us.  What I love about our current budget is that if we’ve spent too much on eating out, we can skimp on groceries and vice versa . . . it leaves us enough wiggle room to work with.  And in all honesty, there are definitely times that we go over our budget, so my husband has a little bumper room set up in our monthly budget in case we splurge too much. But this is definitely what we shoot for each week!


Today I’d like you to take a few minutes and take a good hard look at your pocketbook.  Are you staying right within your budget?  Struggling to save at all?  Doing way better than you ever imagined?  Or even so overwhelmed with all this saving that you’re feeling a little nuts?  (That’s okay too . . . hang in there!)


I’d love to hear how you’re doing, and to encourage you to stick to your goals . . . you really can do this!  If you’re spending more than you planned to spend, now is a great time to slow down and plan better for the future, to see just how much your family can save this month.  Each Tuesday during October we’ll stop back and re-visit how we’re doing, so I’d love for you to join us and see how many pennies you can pinch as we lead up to the Holidays.


Your turn now . . . set those goals and determine to stock them . . . I promise you’ll be so glad you did, and I’d love to hear what your financial goals are this month (feel free to comment anonymously!) 


  “And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19



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  1. This is a very timely post for me. I had just decided to get serious about my budget and health this month. I’ve been dabbling on and off with a budget but I’m getting tired of being in debt and missing out on good grocery deals because I had already spent the money on something frivolous. I don’t get paid until the 12th but I’ve been working on my excel budget spreadsheets. I’m hoping the holidays wont deter me from my goals.

    • Best of luck LaCrisha ~I know you can do it! It really does take so much disclipline, but it sounds like you’re ready to start. I look forward to hearing how this month goes for you! 🙂

  2. Laurie, I love how honest and open you are. It does help to see these “real numbers”, to have something to compare it to. Ours is pretty similar to yours except that we budget $100/ week for gas for both cars. I may have to consider letting the kids ride the bus home!;) lol!

    • Yup… make those kids ride the bus, Alice! 🙂 I pick up Caroline & Reagan on MWF for gymnastics and it’s definitely taken a toll this year on our gas budget ~ I can’t convince James though that it needs to change though, so I’m trying to eek by on it!

      • My children all rode the bus from Kindergarten thru Jr. year of High School. My (last) 14 year old asks me why I can’t drive him. My response to him is I pay taxes which includes your seat on a school bus. He doesn’t complain anymore.

  3. I really need to work on this with 4 boys (one in diapers/pull ups ) need to really get thisin gear! Thanks for all you do and sharing your personal information.

  4. Shannon C says:

    We have a family of 5, My husband and I and our 3 sons 19, 16, and 2. I have a grocery budget of $50 per week for 3 weeks and $75 one week a month for meat (one week I buy nothing but meat and produce and of course milk, the other weeks are mainly coupon shopping and produce and milk). We only have one car but our gas is at least $100 a week. There is not much left after we pay the bills and grocery shop so I am struggling with where I can cut back at all. We rarely eat out as a family, its usually my husband, 2 year old and myself grabbing something while out grocery shopping once a week! We do our shopping 45 minutes from home because we go to my mother in laws every Sunday and they have Publix and Kroger! We will have a loan paid of in November so that will help a lot. I plan on putting that payment in a savings account and just pay ourselves every month instead.

    • You’re doing great Shannon ~ that is such a tight budget to work in! You’re so close to November now…. maybe you can pinch a few extra pennies to get you though this month, and I’m sure it will ease up when that payment is gone. Hang in there (you’re doing great, and I’ll be praying that maybe a few things change in your family’s budget so that you can eek out a little extra each month ~ I know that has to be stressful for your family but trust that things will ease up soon!)

      • Shannon C says:

        Thank you Laurie, not sure we would have made this far without all your help! I know we all go through hard times and one day our time will come when we don’t have to struggle so hard! I look forward to paying that loan off and maybe having at least one night a month as a family date night and maybe even once a month a hubby and I date night! I am trying very hard to remain a stay at home mom (at least until school age).
        So again Thank you for all you do and helping so many people save and stretch their dollars! I am not sure if you are fully aware of the impact you have on so many people lives!

        • You’re so sweet Shannon, and I really appreciate your comment (sometimes I wonder if it helps real people… hard to tell on this side of the screen so I’m so glad it’s helped you!) I’m so praying for a date night for you and your hubby soon (I know I absolutely love being able to have lunch with my husband when we can fit it in, so I’m hoping your budget will give you that wiggle room very soon.)

          Thanks for your encouragement! 🙂

  5. Laurie , Thank you for so my much for this its very helpful but I have a question where do you eat out with a family of five for 30 dollars ? I know with my family of three we have a hard time spending less than 30 dollars on a meal out unless its fast food which we really don’t do .thanks again

    • It is definitely a challenge Tina! We *very* rarely eat a “nice” meal out… while it’s rare that we go to traditional fast food places (i.e. McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s… we just don’t like those much!), we do usually go to places that are a small step up from fast food. Here are a few of our favorites ~
      Subway ($5 footlongs!)
      Which Wich (use a coupon for signing up for their eclub)
      Quizno’s (they often offer online coupons)
      Zaxby’s (we usually spend $25 there by splitting a meal between my daughters)
      Smashburger (used online coupon)
      Tellini’s (discounted kids meals on the weekends)
      Chapala (local Mexican restaurant that has a bunch of coupons available usually)
      Arby’s (not our favorite, but tons of coupons that get mailed home)
      Lawler’s Barbecue (get a family meal pack with water to drink)

      If the meals are especially large, our youngest two share which helps, and if we do eat a sit down meal, we usually try to skimp on the other meal that week (Little Caesar’s Pizzas are just $5, and I have a bunch of free coupons for bread sticks from our local Enjoy the City book!) We’ve even been able to do our local Japanese Steakhouse for about $40 by skipping drinks and using a coupon. It’s a challenge, but I love it when we can find a bit of a deal (although definitely so much more expensive than eating at hom!)

      Hope that helps (at least a little…) You can also check out more dining deals here

  6. I like this topic because I think that sometimes its easy to get carried away trying to take advantage of every single deal out there! I think that couponing is about getting the best price but also staying on budget. Initially, when I started couponing I wanted to try to eliminate my twice a month trip to Sam’s which was eating away at my gas… but I also wanted to add to my giving budget and stock the health room at my son’s middle school. Before couponing I was spending about 700-800 a month on groceries. I had 700 budgeted but often was closer to 800. Now, 18 months later I spend 400 per month for a family of four that includes two teenage boys. I have added 200 per month to my giving money and last year I stocked the health room at our school. It is incredible to me the impact that matching a store sale with a coupon can have! I always thought that I was a savvy shopper, but now I can’t imagine shopping any other way!

    • Needed to add that my hometown does not have a Sam’s so I was driving an hour round trip to shop there. Now I shop in my hometown at Publix and Kroger and my tax dollars go to my community!

      • What a great story Peggy ~ that’s amazing that you’re able to give so abundantly, AND shop in your hometown! What an incredible blessing. . . thank you so much for sharing. 🙂

  7. Wow…did I read that correctly? $360 a month/$90 a week on eating out? That’s more than your grocery budget.

    • I know Denise ~ it’s crazy! We enjoy going out every once in awhile (and with our kids baseball/soccer/gymnastics schedules sometimes we really don’t have much choice), but it just kills me that we spend so much on that. My husband and I enjoy our date once a week (so that’s just a splurge!), and while I don’t think we eat out all that excessively compared to other families, it just seem just crazy when our groceries are so much less! We’re at a place where we can afford it, but I’m sure it’s not the greatest financial move… but I do enjoy my two meals off a week from cooking! 🙂

  8. Wow! Our budgets in these areas anyway, are almost identical. I spend about $70 a week on groceries. We eat out every Sunday afternoon because that’s when we can get together with friends. We budget $30 a week for that. We usually plan for about 3 other weekend eat-outs during the month, and since we homeschool and often have field trips or other events during the day, we plan about $30 for lunches out on those days. We have a family of 5. Our kids are 10, 6 and 1, so that includes diapers too. We worry sometimes about spending so much on eating out too, but it’s just the way life is for us right now. Some months are tighter than others, so we cut back. But when we can budget it in, we enjoy our eat-outs.

  9. Hi Laurie,
    Great post. My totals run about $100 a week for all groceries and paper goods, etc. This doesn’t include eating out but we do eat mostly at home. We have three little ones. I feel discouraged when I look at how much higher my totals are even with using coupons but then I remind myself that (thankfully) I’m able to do almost all my shopping at Publix and mine doesn’t take competitor coupons. I do a meat stock-up every few months or so at a local meat place. So…that’s that.

  10. Vanessa B says:

    I am in the process of determining a realistic budget goal for my family. I have a question to you and your readers; How do I determine a budget and allocate money for specific expenses when we don’t receive income on a regular schedule or in uniform quantities? My husband is a self-employed carpenter and I am a Stay-At-Home Mama.

    Thank you,

    • I know that’s difficult, Vanessa! From what I’ve read, I’d recommend basing all of your absolute-have-to-have items on the bare minimum income that your husband brings home. Then, as there are *extra* things, they only can be bought when extra income above and beyond those basics comes in.

      I know Dave Ramsey has several tips on how to handle those kinds of budgets in his book, so I definitely think that’s the best way to start!

  11. My husband and I are both school teachers with 3 kids, we get paid monthly. We split the bills 50/50. I spend $130 a week on groceries and household stuff (cleaning, paper products, etc). We have 3 chickens that give us eggs, a freezer for deer meat-getting low right now, and lots of frozen/canned veggies from the garden we had this spring. If I am under the amount that week I will put that towards a pizza from Papa Johns online, taco bell family pack or some KFC. The largest part of my bill goes to fluids-4 gallons of milk, 1 gallon of OJ, 1 12 pack of soda and 1 case of water each week, about $25! We pack our lunches since we can’t go out to eat.
    For the past 7 years we have gotten a paycut, insurance, retirement, etc:(
    I love your website! Last week your meatball sandwiches were a big hit!!

    • You guys are doing so well Jessica ~ thanks so much for sharing (and so glad you liked the meatball sandwiches!) 🙂

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