How do you control the cost of groceries?

When working with clients on their monthly budgets, one area that varies the most between families is the expense of groceries.  Recently a couple asked me, "What does a typical family spend on groceries?"  I admit that I didn't have an easy answer for them.  The first problem is that there really isn't such a thing as a "typical" family in the first place.  Different numbers and ages of children, boys vs. girls, special diets or allergy issues, all these things have a big impact on the cost of eating every month.

One thing that I do recommend for almost all my clients is that they begin to use the Cash Envelope System for their supermarket spending.  It can be very easy to head out for some milk and bread and come home with $60 in groceries, unless you have a firm control on how you spend at the grocery store.  If you have an envelope with all the money you have budgeted for the week with you, and that's the only way you will pay, you will definitely be a lot more careful about what brands and quantities you pick up.

What is a "typical" amount your family spends on groceries in a month?  Do you find that using a Cash Envelope is helpful?



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