Creating a Food Budget

Food is a large part of just about everyone's budget. Whether you eat out a lot or always make meals at home, knowing your food budget will help you maintain your household budget. This is a guide about creating a food budget.

Woman Consulting Her Shopping List in the Supermarket

May 11, 2006 Flag
Sandy Baker4 found this helpful

A receipt from the grocery store.Food is not something we can do without. Cutting back on your food bill, though, can leave you with a substantial amount of money left in your pocket at the end of the month. The problems is that most people do not know what they have to do to make that happen. By creating a monthly food budget can be a perfect way to save.

Take Julie, for example. She is a mother of two and is married to Christopher. They work hard but barely make ends meet. When the two of them sat down to determine just where their money was going, Julie was shocked to see that they were spending more than $170 a week on food. That was $600 on just food per month. So, they decided to do something that most would never do. They decided to track their food budget.

For the next month, Julie and Christopher kept a small notebook with them and any time they bought any type of food product, they jotted it down. In fact, it became a competition to see who was spending what and to see who was doing a better job keeping track. At the end of the month, the results were in. They had spent a total of $853 on groceries.


They found that some was going towards the grocery store, but they spent a considerable amount on restaurants, coffee shops and at the gas station when they just stopped in to get something for dinner. Now, what would you do with this information?

Julie did something she had not done before. She decided to create a monthly budget for food. What she found was that it was not difficult to do. Here are some steps that she followed.

By taking the necessary time to track spending and then in making a monthly budget, Julie found herself saving money. They actually treated themselves to dinner out at the end of the month since they had save several hundred dollars and now could say they could afford it.

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May 11, 20060 found this helpful

I have been doing this for 5 years, and redoing it every time we moved to a new area. I make almost everything from scratch (except for a few things for DH's lunches) and we give the kid's watered down juice instead of "fruit drinks." I am a big label reader, and I don't buy anything unless I can identify all the ingredients and I know they won't be bad. That saves a lot of money on health costs too! Because I have to drive 20 miles to the best savings for groceries, we stock up every two weeks, and only buy milk and produce as needed. I do not go to walmart anymore, I switched to a pharmacy drive through to avoid buying snacks and toys and save time; I also save two dollars on my prescription! My dog food is purchased at the local feed shop, and came out to be 4 dollars cheaper than the shop in the larger town I was driving to. That saves me A LOT on gas!

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November 13, 20110 found this helpful

I'm so glad I found this forum/thread. Thank you so much for sharing the tips or steps on How To Create A Monthly Budget For Food. This is very helpful especially to those mothers out there with large family size. Thanks!

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January 28, 20150 found this helpful

Being single, I buy myself a grocery store gift card, $150 at a time, and make it stretch for a month. Budget? Indeed!

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May 9, 20150 found this helpful

Great post on keeping a budget for food shopping. I am alone, but have been before now always cooking for a very large family. So I still have that instict to buy in quantity. Now, I make my list out each week by looking at the store flyiers and going to 2-3 different stores each weekend. Before this I was using The Pea Pod Delivery because I do not drive and it was a convience. Now, my sons take turns coming up and taking me shopping and the greatest benifit of all is I get to see not only my children(adults) but also lots of Grandchild. This acomplishes many things in my life in just a few hours of fun!

Jackie H.

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April 21, 2005 Flag
1 found this helpful

My husband decided to move in his mother, 2 sisters, niece and nephew in with me while he is in Iraq for a year. I only have a son at the moment. Can anyone tell me how much it will cost to feed 7 people! My husband thinks $400 will cover it and people I have talked to laugh at this amount. Please give me advice, I am going crazy with stress here.


April 19, 20080 found this helpful

I have a family of 7. 2 adults and 5 children 12, 10, 9, 7, and 3. My husband and I are slightly overweight a little, my 12 yr old, 8 yr old and 3 yr old daughters are tall, but of avg. weight. My 10 yr old daughter and 7 yr old son are tall and very thin. If I am very careful, I can cut back to $150 a week. Thats with WIC for some of the milk, cereal, juice, cheese, eggs, and penut butter. I still have to buy those things, but WIC helps a little for children under 5. When I'm not being so careful, I can easily spend over $700 in a month. Hope that helps.

You didn't specify the ages of the neice and nephew, or son but if any of them are under 5, You may qualify for WIC, which stands for Women, Infants, and Children. Food Stamps may also be available to you.

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December 2, 20080 found this helpful

Congratulations and Good Luck. You are going to need more than $400 bucks but, I will give you simple tips to stretch your food when things are tight. Buy produce from the farm every state has one near by. Buy items that are use most often like soap, toilet paper, toothpaste, in bulk it will last at least 2 months or more.

Pasta meals, rice meals, potatoes, casseroles, are the best dishes to fix when food is running low. Sweets make your own cakes and cookies even pudding & donuts all these thing include flour which is cheap. If, you are in the country get about 4 chickens and a roaster you will never have to buy eggs.

Start growing your own food & herbs. Buy knock off brands here in NJ we have ALDI honey peanut butter and jelly taste the same as any other, pasta is pasta and this chain carries meat. When I feed my family it is a balance meal. Meat, starch and veges. I make my own pizza. I use pasta sauce, mozzarella, and any topping. You can buy pizza pan at Kmart and the dough you can make or buy like you do biscuits. I hope all of this helps.

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May 1, 20090 found this helpful

Well we live in Idaho and I do have a $450 monthly budget for our family of 7. It is a work to keep it down but doable. No we don't eat out but we have a few nice meals. We eat beans and rice PB& J. Cheese sticks apples fresh veggies, etc. I do buy milk now that the prices are down at costco again. Also I buy the rice beans and those items in bulk. I do not but what I "THINK" we will need. I buy what we need. Bread at the discount bakery. I shop the dented can store, or what ever you call it. I will say that my husband is a hunter and fisherman so that helps.... We grow bell peppers to freeze and a few other things but no big garden. I live in town so I avoid the store if I do not have a list. That is ,for me, the biggest budget breaker around... don't shop even for needs will be surprised how many "little things" add up. I go about every other week.

Oh and by the way we do not eat white flour or things like that. It's oatmeal for breakfast around here. I want to remain healthy in the eating cheaply process. Just curious but maybe you could start with 500 and see how much you can save out of that.

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October 29, 20130 found this helpful

I won't criticise your situation because everyone has one but I will tell you, I have six kids plus me. We go through $1054.00 a month and still run out at the end of the month. None of us are over weight.

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April 19, 20150 found this helpful

February 10, 2006 Flag
2 found this helpful

Our children used to love having a certain brand of cookie or snack, but unfortunately they were also the most expensive. I wanted to teach them about a budget without making them feel as if they were missing out on something so we invented "Family coupon night".

I clip coupons everyday and then on Friday night we make a bowl of popcorn and put all the coupons on the table. We divide them into categories and each person takes a few.

Even our youngest, who cannot read yet recognizes the vegetables on the coupons and is excited about helping. We then go grocery shopping with our coupons on Saturday morning.

When home, I show our budget and how much we saved. The difference goes into a vacation jar and each year we use it to go someplace special, like camping. Everyone feels like a special part of the project and are proud of their contribution.

By Laurie from Biloxi, MS

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March 1, 20060 found this helpful

When I was younger I was on a sole parent pension and my son always used to whine about not being able to have stuff - so I laid out all the money on the table and showed him where it all went - rent, food, utilities etc etc - once he understood he was a lot happier with his lack and often helped me with the budget as he was very quick with math . he has grown up to be a responsible husband and father with sound budget stategies that now help him and his family

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March 26, 20060 found this helpful

If your children get alllowance, and they want the "extra's" in life, see if they would want to help pay for them. Maybe if it were coming out of their pocket, they would be more aware.

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July 21, 2004 Flag
0 found this helpful

Ok, I think I spend a lot on groceries. About 400 to 500 dollars a month for a family of 3 (and that's not counting eating out a few times a month!). I am pretty sure this is quite high? More than that, we are living paycheck to paycheck and I want to have some savings. Our child is now 4 and I am wondering what you folks do to cut costs? What would be a more reasonable food budget? And what are some tips for planning meals, grocery lists, etc. I really don't know where to start on this but this seems like the right place to look, I have already found some useful tips on this site.



July 21, 20070 found this helpful

#1, Do your own cooking. You pay a lot for the convenience of a boxed dinner or a pretty bakery cake. Food companies also take a lot of shortcuts in their cooking which seriously effect the nutritional value of the food. Home-cooked meals are generally much healthier in the long run.

#2, work on meal presentation. A head of romaine lettuce chopped up in a bowl looks much more appealing with carrot curls scattered across the top. I also spend a lot of time hunting around garage sales and thrift stores for cute and unique serving dishes. A cut-crystal wine glass can make suger-free fat-free pudding look amazing.

My husband and I eat for just over two dollars per meal -$120 per month. And we eat very well. For lunch today we had roast beef sandwiches with lettuce and cheese on them and cranberry-vanilla smoothies. We eat a lot of ethnic food (African peanut butter stew is one of Jon's favorites) and very little meat. Often for dinner we'll eat two zucchinis and a summer squash steamed in herb water on a bed of baked brown rice with a half of a well-seasoned chicken breast chopped up and mixed in with the vegetables. It's delicious and visually appealing, and we never leave the table hungry.

I have found breakfast to be a huge money saver as well. We've stopped buying cereal and I make breakfast mixes by hand and keep them in jars on a specific shelf in the kitchen that is only for breakfast items. Each morning we can pull down a different jar and within a few minutes we have fresh pancakes, scones, muffins, or whatever else I have ready to go for the week. It has saved us a lot of money and tastes so much better than the stuff you buy at grocery stores.

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December 14, 20070 found this helpful

I plan a week's menu list and make a grocery list of what I don't have in my pantry, adding other things I need. I write how much each item costs, then add it up. If it is over my budget, then I see what I can do without ie: will the meal still be good without adding the olives or mushrooms? Can I use milk instead of cream? or any other alternatives? I keep deleting things off my list until it is within my budget.

I buy only organic food, so coupons are not worth the trouble for me. I also try to use less meat by adding more veggies. I think it's healthier, too. I am feeding my son, husband and his father. If I am careful, I can feed all of us on less that $150 a week (including non-foods). NJ is very expensive - especially organics, but it is worth it for better health. (other family members who ate small amounts of veggies, lots of fast food and junk food, have cancers, that makes me wonder...).

If we eat out, I deduct the cost from my grocery allowance. Either in planning for it or deducting the next week. That is one sure way to limit how often we eat out! My process is more work, but it is the only way I can stay in budget. Since I don't work, I consider that by saving money, I am in a way "earning" money where I can. Hope this helps.

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February 12, 20080 found this helpful

My husband and I spend about $120 dollars a month. We don't have any children but we rarely eat out. It's cheaper to cook home cooked meals than to eat out. I buy lots of fruits and vegetables, poultry and healthy stuff. My advice is just to cook. You get more for your money. It's easier to feed a large family when you cook.

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November 14, 20080 found this helpful

I usually spend about 250 a month on food for myself and my two teens. I usually stock up on deals (loss leaders) that we use. I buy enough for the entire year. I never use coupons, they are to hard to keep track of. I buy the cheapest item, looking at the per unit price (yes those smaller packages are sometimes less expensive than the bigger ones). I keep a price book, so I know when things are a good price. It was hard to get started at first, but now I know. I also shop the manager markdowns on meats. I usually can find really expensive cuts of meat (organic) for far less than I would pay for the commerical grade stuff. We freeze a lot of it and use it throughout the year.

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February 18, 20090 found this helpful

December 30, 2010 Flag
0 found this helpful

I have a 23 year old guy living at my house and he has a big appetite. How do I cook for him on a budget?

By Rachael from Lodi, CA

January 4, 20110 found this helpful

The best way is to have him contribute to the budget. He doesn't need steak. He can eat chicken, tuna and hamburgers. Who fed him before you got him? What did they feed him. Is he a boarder or do you have a future together. If it is a future, don't get him used to fancy meals and a full stomach. You will just have to keep it up for years. If he is hungry he will eat what you fix.

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Anonymous Flag
January 4, 20110 found this helpful

If you click on 'find' in the orange bar at the top of this page and type in 'cheap meals' and also 'inexpensive meals' you will find oodles of recipe ideas!

Rachael Ray also has a section on her recipe site for $10.00 and under meals that serve up to four people: ... s/budget/index.php?category=underten

And here's the link for her budget meals: ... ons/budget/index.php?category=budget

I also have the same questions as Lilac. ;-)

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January 4, 20110 found this helpful

Do lots of homemade soups. They can be meatless, using beans/lentils or all veggies. As stressed previous, if he is a keeper or just passing through makes a difference. If he consumes 50%-75% of the food budget, then he kicks in that much. I don't get guys who find a girl to play house with and then expect her to pay the bills too. They were looking for a mama, not a honey. This is not independent for either one. If he does not eat portion controlled meals like any one else does, then he can get a job with more wage to pay that part of it.

I have all big kids (6-4, 6-3, etc) and they don't consume a quantity of food beyond healthy portions. They learned to cook, bake and roast as well as shop carefully. All 3 of my kids started at age 16 at the local grocery store and knew what food costs. The youngest is now a manager at that very store. I would make my children make grocery lists, go shopping with me. Decisions of fruit/veggies or a bag of chips, fruit/vegies won. My thing was, if my kids thought they needed a special item I would not put on the list, they would watch the ads for it and check the coupons for it. Then they took their money out to buy it. You see how badly it is needed that way.

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January 4, 20110 found this helpful

Oh, forgot, then you plant the garden or join up with a community garden and he gets the hard labor work of the weeding, learning how to hoe, watering, etc.

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October 5, 2006 Flag
1 found this helpful

My food budget has been growing every week, so I sat down and looked at what I could start doing to cut back and still eat quality meals. . .

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