When setting up a food budget there are several considerations. Families that want to be able to control how much they spend on food will need to take several factors into account. While the challenge of setting up a food budget may seem overwhelming, statistics show that those families who know and understand how much they spend on food have a much better handle on their entire debt load. Financial experts recommend that you work to put together a family food budget using the following steps for at least two months in order to determine how much you really spend. Here are some steps to get you started to setting up a frugal family food budget-
· Think in terms of “food” and not just “grocery”. As you begin you need to list all the places where you buy food. This includes the grocery store and restaurants. In addition make sure that you do not forget the soda machine at work, the popcorn counter at the theater, the morning coffee stop and the bottle of water from the convenience store when buying gas. We buy and consume food in many locations and they all contribute to the bottom line of our food budget. To save money on food you will need to eliminate or limit all except the essentials. Train yourself to think, “Do we need this? Or simply want it?”
Do you need or want it?
· Cook your meals. After determining how much you really spend, the first way to save money on food expenses is to cook it yourself. You can think of it this way: if someone cooks the food for you, how is it much different than hiring a cook or a house cleaner or a lawn mower or a clothes washer? Some times the “cook” is prepared food and it is carried home in grocery bags. Other times, the “cook” is passed through drive-up windows or is delivered to your door. You should keep in mind that the cost of that labor is always included in the prices we pay.
· Make frugal food consumption your personal challenge. Understand that it’s you versus the food companies and yes, you are David and they are Goliath. Every time a food company takes a commodity food (think “real food” which are the underlying ingredients) and cuts it, cooks it and packages it, it’s all done to tempt you to pay several multiples for the “added value” the company brings to a commodity product.
· Get really good at shopping for food frugally, a week and a dollar at a time. You cannot expect to follow all of these tips at once. Choose one or two of the tips listed above and begin working on them to build confidence; this is the stuff that’s easiest to incorporate into your own habits and practices. In order to make the most difference, determine where there’s the most to save in your family finances and work those first.
· Adjust as you go along. When first trying to implement a food budget you may feel overwhelmed. Keep in mind that there are several factors at work here: your time, where you shop, what your family likes to eat and many more that are all influencing your food budget. Keep in mind that making small changes as you go along can make big differences overall in how much of your hard earned money you are spending on food. It can be helpful to think of food budgeting as a game-as you find a way to save you move further along the path. Do not let the discouraging nature of trying to pull all of this together get you off your goal. With some work and creativity you can arrive at a frugal family food budget that allows you to afford what you spend on food while still serving your family nutritious and delicious meals.