Smart people use grocery budgets because smart people like to save their hard-earned money. Smart people also spend their money wisely, and eat consciously.

So the question remains, why aren’t you taking advantage of grocery budgets? Could it perhaps be because you find the notion of limiting your food and beverage purchases to be intimidating? Well, have no fear, because we’re here to take the complexity out of it.

What Exactly Is A Grocery Budget?

Before we get into the details of how to best deal with grocery budgets, we need to understand what they are — and more importantly, what they are not. A grocery budget is nothing more than an outline of what you NEED to purchase. The key operative here is NEED, which differs in abundance from what you WANT.

This conversation should go through your brain: Whenever I go grocery shopping, I want to buy cookies. I want to buy beer. I want to buy cupcakes. However, I refrain from making these purchases because they don’t fit a need, which is why I don’t even include them on my grocery list.

With that said, a grocery budget is nothing more than a tool to help you focus on your needs versus your wants. There are plenty of online coupons that will also benefit your need to stay on budget.

What’s The Best Way To Make A Grocery Budget?

There are certain tactics you ought to employ when making a grocery budget. They are simple and easy, but they make a huge difference.

Be Specific and Eat Vegetables

Avoid the laziness of generalities at all costs. Instead of writing that you need “vegetables,” identify the exact veggies you need. This helps lessen the temptation of wanting to add unnecessary additions to your shopping cart. Yeah, getting that spinach instead of corn this week sounds fun, but hey, it’s not on the list! Corn is also a carb and a starch, where as spinach is has many more health benefits.

Maintain A Schedule

Grocery budgets work best when you stick to a regular grocery schedule. Otherwise, you wind up having to go back to the store because you of course inevitably forget something. And whenever you wind up back at the store, you wind up facing the temptation to buy things you don’t need.

Use Cash

Always use cash for your grocery purchases. Basically, you want to withdraw the exact amount you will need beforehand. This is such a simple but effective way to make a grocery budget work. It makes it literally impossible for you to buy things that you did not include on your list.

Plan Your Meals

Get in the habit of planning your meals beforehand. Some people do the exact opposite. They plan their meals while at the store based on what catches their attention. This methodology, while fun, bodes exceptionally unwell for the financially conscientious shopper, so avoid it!

Be Aware Of Deals

It really helps if you stay abreast of your favorite grocer’s running deals. These deals can end up cutting $10 or more from your final price. That’s extra money in your hand that you might be tempted to use to get things you don’t really need. However, if you factor in the deals and you use cash, you can avoid this happening to you.

Add A Treat

Here is perhaps the most important tip. Pick one thing that makes you very, very happy — a candy bar, a cupcake, a special dip, etc. — and add it to your list. Everybody needs a treat. And in fact, by incorporating a SINGLE (not two, three or four) treat into your grocery budget, you can ensure you don’t grow to be resentful of it. There are plenty of HEALTHY treats out there, such as 100% cacao as well as dark chocolate, and even strawberries.

Sticking to a grocery budget doesn’t need to be difficult. It’s actually super simple to do, especially if you take advantage of the types of strategies we laid out above. Just remember that grocery budgets aren’t about depriving you of pleasurable foods. They are nothing more than tools to help you prioritize what you need to purchase over what you want to get.