Grocery Hack :: How To Stick To A Budget

Grocery Hack :: How To Stick To A Budget

Grocery shopping for a family, large or small, can always be a burden on the account, especially these days with the cost of living so high. For a long time, I was just creating my ever-growing list at home for everything we needed for the week. Once at the store, I would get everything on the list and then some because there are always those items you see and realize you forgot you needed. I also fall victim for that sudden spark of inspiration for the kids when I see random items, which can definitely add up as well. Once I get to the checkout counter, my husband and I are always just sticker shocked. But, no more! The sticker shock has vanished due to my little budget hack.

Groceries are expensive these days, here's my hack to stay on budget

Here’s how it’s done.

I create my grocery list of everything my family wants and needs before I go (yes, I still like to handwrite my lists even though Alexa can do it for me). I also like to put the items in a particular order in which I peruse the store. Once there, every single item I put into my basket, I add to a calculator. I use my iWatch for convenience – the phone doesn’t necessarily have its own spot in a grocery basket (which, quite frankly, seems a bit archaic to me these days, but whatever) and can get lost in items or close out on me. Now, I don’t add in the exact amount, I always round up. For example, if a bag of salad is $4.99 I enter in $5. If a bottle of wine is $18.25, I enter in $19. I do this for every single item I physically put into my cart. The reason for always rounding up is to make up for taxes. As I’m shopping, I have a surprisingly accurate indicator on my wrist of the final bill. This way, when I’m hit with a potentially Pinterest-ty after-school snack idea for the kids, and I go rogue from my list, I can tell about how far along I am in a budget and on the list if I think I’ll have funds for said items.

Here’s a slightly different approach that can also get your steps in.

If you’re on a super tight budget or even struggle with gauging if the rogue items in your basket will fit into the cost, listing your items beforehand by order of importance and not in order of convenience around the store will absolutely help you stick to a budget using this method. Still rounding up to the next dollar amount, getting items like milk, eggs, bread, meat, soap, and medicine before cookies, baking items, and ice cream will give you a very precise idea where you are in your budget so that you can gauge if you have room for the “want” items after you get your “need” items. Now, this will take you all over the store and could add more time while there, but if shopping is your Zen or a tight budget is your top priority, then this approach might be for you.

The calculator on my iWatch keeps my budget on track and sticker shock at bay
The calculator on my iWatch keeps my budget on track and sticker shock at bay

I’ve been adding each item to my watch calculator for several months now, and not one time has my final calculation been less than my actual total. My calculations are ALWAYS either just a couple of dollars over the actual total or sometimes even within a dollar of the final price. It’s amazingly accurate and my husband’s mind is blown; his financially illiterate wife can manage to predict the bill every single time. It’s rewarding and helps keep costs down. I highly recommend you try this the next time you’re grocery shopping. You’ll be surprised how astonishingly accurate you are and how easier it will be to budget while shopping.

What grocery or budget hacks do you have? We’d love to hear them!

Jennifer Gonzales
Wife to my high school sweetheart, Ross, and mother to 5 children: Trip, Conner, McKenzie, Piper, and Sutton, I am a born and raised Southern Louisiana Lady. I am a graduate of Mt. Carmel Academy, received my Bachelor’s in English with a concentration in Secondary Ed. from LSU followed by my Master’s of Education from UNO, and for the past 15 years, I have been outwitting high school boys as an English teacher at Holy Cross School. When I’m not grading papers, driving to baseball practices, or making grocery runs, I can be found cheering on my LSU Tigers, cutting up with my girlfriends, and attempting DIY projects around the home. I’m all about sippin’ some wine during the sunset while the kiddos play in the yard and the hubby works the grill. I’m living my best mommy life these days and am always happy to share the journey with others!


  1. A tip I learned when on a tight budget.

    Shop on the online store as if your doing a pick up order, but then make a handwritten or print out of the list that was in your virtual cart and go to the store with that list. That way you know the brands etc. that fit your budget for that week.


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