A Summer of Over Budget Grocery Shopping

Ready for some real grocery budget talk? This summer was rough, budget wise for us. We had some big repairs to make the van (a new compressor…after a new transmission), plus we bought our Suburban with cash. Thankfully, we had money set aside in savings that covered everything, but it wiped out our new car account and our car repairs account.

Then, we traveled and went school supply shopping and bought a new microwave (the handle broke off our old one several months ago) and entertained more this summer. Let’s just say our savings accounts are looking pretty slim right now. However, I am truly thankful we had the money in savings to cover these expected and unexpected expenses.

Then, of course, there is the inflation that is really hitting at the grocery store! Add in the fact that I feel an urgency to stock my pantry more, during these uncertain times, and my grocery budget is really taking a hit.

I had kept my budget the same as last year at $425 for groceries, toiletries, paper products, and 2 in diapers. I have bought several large packages of toilet paper in June and July and that alone eats up a chunk of my budget! I don’t regret purchasing the extra toilet paper though.

I am sharing all of this in full transparency because staying on budget isn’t easy – even for me who likes to save money at the grocery store! Here’s a look back at this year so far.

2021 Grocery Shopping Totals for the First Half of the Year

That averages out to $456 a month so far in 2021. I had 4 good months of staying under budget but then things started creeping up. I didn’t get many pictures but here are some of the reasons for my higher bills.

In May, I bought 35 pounds of ground beef for $1.79/lb. It was on sale at Meijer for Memorial Day and I went every single day that week it was on sale and bought the 2 packages limit. It was so good to have ground beef in my freezer – and I still have over half of that left! Totally worth going over budget for. A good sale on meat – especially now – is worth the money spent.

In June, I went over because we were traveling and cooking food for my entire extended family. I always budget $100 from our travel fund to help cover those expenses, so once I did that, we weren’t really that badly over budget. Still over, though.

In July, I started stocking up more. Kroger ran their amazing spend $40 in the diaper aisle, and get $10 off instantly. That basically means the big boxes of diapers went from $20.99 to $15.99, when I bought 2. I bought 6 boxes of diapers in July – plus a half price box of diapers that was smushed. All the diapers were in there, but because the box was dented, I got it for only $9.98! Great deal for me! I also ordered 3 large packages of Scott toilet paper from Amazon. It was the best price around and delivered to my door. Diapers and toilet paper accounted for a third of my budget in July.

Like I said earlier, I am really trying to stock our pantry more. We saw how many shortages there were during the lock downs last year, and I don’t want to be caught unprepared by anything that is coming. Stay tuned for my Stockpiling in September series where I dive into this more!

I want to keep stocking up, and prices are going up, so I have decided to raise my budget mid-year. I am going to increase my grocery budget from $425 to $475 a month. I really debated raising it to $500 but I am going to challenge myself to stay under $475 a month for groceries and my extra stockpiling. It will be a challenge, but the extra $50 will give me a bit more wiggle room. Plus, I found that $50 when rearranging our budget so I can make that amount work.

Consider this your reminder that budgets are not set in stone. You can rearrange things, if you need to. Yes, most of us have a fixed amount available to spend but with some creativity, maybe you can find a bit more money too.

If you have gone over budget, give yourself grace! There are good reasons for going over, and it happens to all of us! We will all work harder at staying on budget next month.

Now that I’ve confessed my overages, how are things going for you at the grocery store? Has anyone else raised their grocery budget, or are you getting more creative with what you have? Anyone else feeling the urge to prep a bit more?

Here’s to everyone shopping on a budget, and looking for those good deals! I hope we all find some this week!

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  1. Love the post! I am going to put a big order in to our Meat Lodge store and stock our freezer. I don’t think my grocery budget was that much over. It was our eating out. Man, it was crazy. I put my two younglings in a lot of activities this summer, so eating out happened a lot more than it should have. I’m also low on cheese and butter. If I do the meat run and fill in the rest, should be sitting good. I ordered the survival mom book at your suggestion awhile back and try to follow her guidelines. I think that will help with rising prices/shortages coming up.

    1. Thank you, Jackie! I’m so glad you found it helpful. I am actually rereading Survival Mom myself, as well as the Crisis Preparedness Handbook, and tackling my stocking up as well. Good for you on filling your freezer! I just saw that Kroger has $1.88/lb butter as their digital deal next week so I’m going to pick up my 5lb limit. One can never have too much butter or cheese in the freezer! 🙂

      1. I’m going to have to check out Crisis Preparedness. I’ve been reading a lot of prepper fiction lately. I do gleen a lot of information even if the stories aren’t true. Here is a tip. If you have an electronic key fob for you vehicle make sure you have an extra battery in you glove box. They are most commonly the CR2032 button battery. I put a couple different ones in little baggies and taped them to the inside of my glove box. I also put a couple in my purse. My mother in law lives over 60 miles away from the bigger city she shops in and her key fob died yesterday. She called me in a panic because I work in this city. She was able to get into her car because I told her how to pull the door key out of the fob last year. She called a local automotive store and they were able to come get her and replace the battery. The only problem was with her newer vehicle you have to reprogram the fob after replacing the battery. Luckily the automotive man stayed with her and was able to figure it out. It’s situations like this one that I like to prepare for. I put my multi tool squirt in my purse last night. It also has a screwdriver to open most kids toys. That in itself if invaluable to me:)

  2. I also stocked way up for Memorial on beef! I have 3 packs left and plan to do the same for Labor Day coming. I haven’t noticed sour creme, but will be aware. I still bounce around and hit a few different stores for my stocking up, and hit all the sales. I don’t think we have been out for anything in two weeks. I agree that fruit has been over priced and we have just been skipping it. Variety is the spice of life right!?
    Also, a comment on using what’s in your pantry. We challenge ourselves to use what we have. We will just Google the few ingredients. Like for example, chicken and cauliflower. It will give us a string of recipes that include those. We have a lot of basic ingredients, so that helps. But try it! Google what weird things you have left and try something new!

    1. Oh, yes! I am hoping we get some good Labor Day sales on meat, too! Love the idea of using up what is in your pantry. I’m good with odd things, and trying new recipes. I will have to try your suggestion, Christina! And yes, here’s to hitting different stores for all their sales. It really is the best way to save. 🙂

  3. It is an interesting mix of rising prices. I am being observant and it seems like some things haven’t risen in price yet much while other things have had a pretty big jump. I am sure everything will rise eventually, but I am trying to stock up on the things that haven’t seemed to have as big a rise yet. I read an interesting book about having specific recipes in mind that you would make using things from your pantry so that you would have all those ingredients on hand and not be missing some ingredient. I have to think that through a little more. I’m interested to hear what you found out about prices.

    1. It really is an interesting mix. Sour cream jumped from $1 to $1.74 in one week! Other things are creeping up by pennies and some are doing big jumps. I think you are very wise to stock up on what you can now. That sounds like an interesting book. I am trying to develop more recipes for our family that use pantry ingredients – and can be made without meat, too. The prices are done, but now I have to finish all the analyzing. I’m excited to share the update very soon!

  4. I’ve found my grocery budget creeping up as well. It seems like fruit isn’t as good of a deal as it usually is during the summer.

    1. I completely agree! I’ve been watching for fruit sales, especially blueberries, and they just aren’t happening! Thankfully, we had two weeks of really good cherry prices at $1.79/lb which made my boys and me super happy! 🙂

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