Now that I’ve drastically reduced my commuting expense and mastered the brown bag lunch, I’m ready to take a serious look at my grocery spending. I enjoy grocery shopping, cooking and trying new foods, but that can get a bit pricey. Time to find the right balance. Here a few food budgeting to get your grocery bill under control.
I purchase almost all my food on a credit card and pay it off in full at the end of the month. This makes it easy to see how much and where I spend my money. I spend about $800 a month for groceries for two people. I know that sounds like a big number for two people and I agree. In my defense, I buy organic meats, grass-fed beef, organic vegetables and free range organic eggs.
Decide on a Food Budget That Fits Your Lifestyle
On average Americans spend 10-12% of our income on food. I’ve decided to try and keep my food budget to $125 a week or roughly $6500 a year. I buy local and healthy when possible and sometimes that just costs more. I’m putting my money where my mouth is, literally. This may sound high to some, but we rarely eat out, two times a month or three times a month at most.
Start by Comparing Your Food Spending
Based on government data someone in my income bracket spends about $8000 a year on food at home and $3750 a year dining out for a family of 3. Since I have two people in my household, I’ll need to adjust the numbers down a bit. After looking at the government statistics, maybe I’m not so far off the mark. I still think I can do better.
Many years ago, I was able to get by on $50 a week for groceries by using coupons, but that proved not to be the healthiest way for me to eat. It was hard for me to resist a 25-cent box of cake mix and even harder not to bake it up. Even now most of the coupons I come across are for packaged and processed foods. I’ll be adding coupons back into my food budget, this time around I’ll limit it to dairy products and bottled water and keep a lookout for the elusive produce coupons.
Another nifty tool to use is the USDA food plans which estimate the cost of food for various budgets.
The USDA’s thrifty food budget for a family of 2 under 50 years old is $385.40 a month; the liberal food plan budget is $766.10 as of January 2018.
Comparing your food budget to others’ can give you a rough idea if your spending is way out of line, use these tools to fine-tune your spending based on your budget.
With some planning and a few coupons, you can create an affordable and healthy food plan that works for you.