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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.
By Sandy Baker
According to research from the University of Arizona, the average American family throws out nearly $600 in food annually, often due to good intentions but poor follow through. Research shows that most food shopping is done on the weekends, when shoppers are fresh and well rested. With good intentions to eat healthy, they buy an assortment of fresh fruits and vegetables with plans to make healthy foods, perhaps a fresh fruit salad and green salad with dinner each week night. Then Monday comes and brutal reality strikes. The enthusiastic, health conscious shoppers from the weekend come home from work tired, hungry and cranky, order carry out pizzas with garlic fries and the family soda special, and forget about the tasty fresh produce sitting forlornly in the crisper. Or maybe they don't forget about the produce. They may even feel guilty about it. But they order the pizza, soda and garlic fries just the same. By the end of the week, the fruits and vegetables, wilted and spoiled, are tossed in the trash. Then the weekend comes, and the tired, fast food aficionados are once again transformed into the enthusiastic, health conscious, well intentioned grocery shoppers, and the vicious cycle repeats.
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
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. This is the plan and I am seeing a difference in my spending. Maybe, it will help you, too.
On the week end I sit down with my grocery ads and plan out the week of meals. Not only do I save money by shopping the sale, I am saving money by planning what we will have for meals, thus not waiting until 3:00 in the afternoon to think about dinner plans, driving to the store and picking up more items then needed. Going to the store once a week, also makes me use what leftovers I have. This has not only saved money, it has caused me to be more creative with meals and not fix the same thing week after week. Don't forget to use your coupons.
By Bobbie G from Rockwall, TX
I am not working currently as I am a care giver for my elderly parents, so I eat lunch at home. I have set myself a budget of 1 pound a day (approx. $2 American) for everything I eat, except for our main meal at night with my husband. It is quite possible to make 1 pound stretch, as I mostly live on snacks and fruit during the day.
I mentally calculate the cost of everything as I go along. I know that's a bit sad, but it gives me a sense of satisfaction to stick within my budget. If I do go over one day, I cut back the next. It's a bit like a diet I suppose. I can make a big bowl of mashed potato with grated cheese mixed in for about 50p, and this covers lunch for 2 days. Then I can have a banana, an apple, and a bag of crisps. There is no limit put on our evening meals, but we don't go mad! I am a great believer in looking after the pennies etc.
By econ o'miser
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Here are questions related to Creating a Food Budget.
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.
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.
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
By Annie Rios Hill01/05/2011
The 23 year old man should be paying for his fair share. And use as many coupons as possibles and follow all local markets sales.
I have a question. We are now down to the two of us.
How much should it cost for food and basic toiletries (toothpaste, shampoo, deodorant, etc) for a family of two.
I am talking about in-home prepared foods; meat perhaps 2 to 3 nights per week; rest would be cheese, beans, macaroni/dishes).
I live in the NorthEastern region of U.S. and have large supermarkets like, Shoprite nearby.
I am trying to establish a reasonable a budget.
By Kim Sappington02/07/2009
You may have to spend a little time on this one. If you cook using a weekly or monthly menu you can very easily see what you realistically eat. If you do not do this (I do not) you may have to try it for a month or so to get an idea of what you actually eat and how much. Keep track of the number of times you eat out or have delivery also, so you can figure that dollar amount into your budget.
Now a couple of things that may seem obvious but I will include them anyway. If you clip coupons and watch the sales and shop the perimeter of the store (the produce, dairy and meat sections) and stay out of the areas that have all the over processed packaged foods you will see a big difference in your grocery bill. There are certainly some good products like canned fruits and vegetables the can be had from the "interior" of the store shelves, but you have to be willing to monitor yourself. I have always had to live on a budget so I know this works.
Depending on the cost of living in your area and how good the sales and coupons are, I would think you could both eat on ten dollars a day or less.
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.
By najah g (Guest Post)02/18/2009
I spend up to $400 on food for a month.