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
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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.


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First of all let me thank-you for letting your husband serve our country. Also you are a great lady for letting your hubby give you only 400.00 to feed that many people. First not everybody lives near a farm of any kind. I live in southwest Louisiana and where I live there are zero discount grocery stores. We have a Sams in the next town and the prices are high along with Wal-mart.

Our Wal-mart will write reduced on something for ten cents or hide it in the back so you can not match prices. I have seen it for years and told a manager. He pleased me a couple of times but who wants to bother a manager who is told to do that. You can shop at the Dollar Tree as they buy sellouts and so does Big Lots.

On a trip to AL several years ago, they had a giant Dollar Tree and lots of fresh veggies and a dozen med to large eggs. Lots of bread items and frozen veggies. I spoke with the manager there and she told me it went by what the buyers in the area had to sell. Farmers Markets are high here also. You can buy pots, soil and veggies to plant. The Dollar tree sells seeds and sometimes Wal-Mart sells bulbs and sm veggies for a good price.

I could not live without my freezer as I freeze everything. You can look online for recipes to make your meats go farther. Use sites like and ideas like twenty ways with ground meat. Just search online and if you don't have a computer around you can go to a public library during the day and use their online tools. Our library for some reason will let you check out fancy baking pans. The reason why I say to go during the day is because they usually have out loud reading programs so if you have a talker it does not matter. You can check out books with lots of info to help you with your budget and recipes. They also have dvds and cds with cooking for less ideas.

Watch the weekly sales and stock up and maybe Wal-Mart will match some items they have in excess. I sub rice for pasta sometimes. Also watch the Sunday ads and you can check online for sale ads. I buy some stuff at Walgreens and CVS when its on sale. When you have any veggies left over freeze them in a large Ziploc bag and keep adding to it. When it is full make a soup. I save my broth and freeze them. I even freeze any left over meat and put it all in a soup. I hate when people ask me for recipes because I just sub with lots of things in recipes with whatever I have.

I have a couple fruit trees and juice anything we don't finish eating. I live in town and I only wish I could have chickens. You can stretch eggs in a casserole for dinner. I hope I have helped you and I said a prayer for you. If you would like to write me please feel free. I do not check my email everyday but will look for your email. AT

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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.

  • Track spending to determine what areas you are spending your money on.

  • Determine ways to cut. For example, Julie invested $26 in a coffee maker and bought flavored coffees that she and Christopher enjoyed and saved the $58 they had spent on coffee shop money. Stopping at the gas station where things were more expensive was important to them as well.

  • Make a basic weekly grocery allowance. Since they were already established, she had most of what she needed to cook available the first week such as spices and basics. By making a menu for each week, she saved herself time too. She knew what to pull out for dinner and have no worries about having to run out to pick something out. She found that she could cut her grocery budget down to about $100 per week.

  • Later, she started to cut back on foods they didn't need and made them herself. For Sunday breakfast, she made French toast and made enough for another meal down the road. She also baked a batch of cookies instead of buying packaged and the kids loved it.

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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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

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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.

Good luck.

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Hello everyone:

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.


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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.

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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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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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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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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.



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I spend up to $400 on food for a month.

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Budget & Finance BudgetAugust 21, 2011
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