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A New Perspective: Grocery store budgeting

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We all have to make time and money to go grocery shopping. So, what's a good method to get the most bang for your buck, how do you plan for it, and who, in the family, is likely to be pushing the shopping cart?

We all have to make time and money to go grocery shopping.

So, what's a good method to get the most bang for your buck, how do you plan for it, and who, in the family, is likely to be pushing the shopping cart?

"I created labels because we do and repeat a lot of the same meals,” said Grace Hannon, Mother of Six, Traverse City.

Creating labels and organization is serious business for Grace - who has six children - with five of them still living at home.

"Once in a while, maybe once a week, I will try a new recipe but for the favorites and leftovers or if we're going out to eat or a family party I have a label for each of those and just the day before I go shopping I pull them down, I look at my week, see what our week's going to be and I plan it out that way. And on the back of each card I actually have what I need to buy for that recipe. It just really helps me organize my shopping and stay within my budget when I know exactly what I need at the grocery store.”

And even though we all have to grocery shop that doesn't mean all of us know how.

When making a budget, financial advisers say food is something they spend a lot of time talking about with their clients.

"A lot of people will say okay, I only need $100 a week,” said Andy Kempf, 4Front Credit Union President. “And we're like, you're a family of four, really? Is $100 a week going to cut it? Let's be realistic. No that number should be $150 or $200 a week and then they're like, oh. So you might not be able to afford the cable or you might not be able to afford the extra money for going out to the movies or something like that."

And Kempf says when making that budget you have to work backwards.

"Your staples: electricity, gas, food, all those staples have to go into your budget first and then you figure out your spending income later,” said Kempf. “You don't figure out your spending money and then back into food and take out money from there."

And when the shopping needs to get done, who's the one typically in the family that does it?

"So usually my wife would do the grocery shopping but once in a while I will go,” said Ryan Hannon, Grace’s Husband. “It's hard to find stuff, especially the right kind of stuff. So I ask her to make the list like kind of in order of the way I would go around the store. But sometimes I don't know exactly which brand or whatever product to get so I will call her.”

“Typically when he [Ryan] goes, I get like 1 million phone calls of where's this or which kind of that? And I'm just like, oh it would just be easier if I did it myself,” said Grace. “But I do appreciate when he goes when I can't."

And Grace says planning ahead helps her stick to the budget - something she learned years ago with having a lot less.

"There was a time where I was a single mom and I was on food stamps and you know macaroni and cheese and tuna noodle casserole and spaghetti, those were all staples,” said Grace. "Depending on families and where they are, you just work with what you have and, you know, as times gone on I have become more health-conscious in trying to feed my family healthier foods and fruits and vegetables and those can be more expensive but again finding a balance."

Grace has also found a way to get the kids involved and understand what it takes to feed a large family.

"About once a week I bring one of the kids with me when I go grocery shopping and they get $20 and they have to feed the whole family and that includes five kids and two adults- so seven people,” said Grace. “They have to plan a meal and they can plan whatever they want and they also have to come with me and see what it takes to buy for a week's worth of grocery shopping for our family. So it gives them some life skills."

But whether your family is big or small, Kempf says the difference isn't that much.

"It all depends on your budget quite honestly,” said Kempf.

“The time it takes you to plan beforehand, if you work that into your schedule, it saves you so much time and money with your budget,” said Grace.

And in addition to budgeting, Kempf says he absolutely suggests you save as well. He says 10% of your weekly or monthly income is a good number to put into savings.

The US Department of Agriculture released a document this summer over how much families spend on food each month.

According to the May report, a family of four -- with two young kids -- spends roughly $855 a month on food.

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