How to Plan a Food Budget

Prepare for your next trip to the grocery store.

Prepare for your next trip to the grocery store.

One trip to the grocery store is all it takes to wreck your household budget. Between the impulse buys and the ever-dangerous checkout lane, fully stocked with yummy snacks and treats, your purchases can add up quickly. Creating a food budget plan and sticking to it can help keep you focused while shopping and make a world of difference in the final sticker price. Add in the savings you can garner by paying attention to sales and using coupons, and you could start seeing some big returns.

Set a weekly spending limit. Determine the amount of money you have in your household budget to spend on food. Create a budget and examine your total income and your total expenses. Figure on spending approximately 10 percent of your disposable income on food purchases, so factor that expense into your budget. According to recent data presented by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 10 percent represents the typical amount consumers budget for food. Adjust the amount as necessary to stay within your budget.

Create a menu by planning meals in advance. Plan at a minimum for one week; plan an entire month if you can. Use a calendar and plan out breakfast, lunch and dinner. Get creative and designate specific days for leftovers. Calculate the cost of each meal by using previous sales receipts and sales advertisements for guidance on pricing for each item. Place the average cost for each meal on the calendar. Tally the estimated meal costs and see how close you are to your designated food budget. Adjust if necessary and keep track of any meal cost changes.

Calculate the cost of take out food and special meals, such as date night dinners. Determine the amount you spend on a weekly basis by examining your current spending habits. Include this in your food budget and set the necessary amount to the side before heading to the grocery store. You may find that your budget doesn't allow for your ordinary expenditures in this category. Make cuts where necessary to stay on track financially.

Aim to spend less than the budgeted amount each week. Switch out menu ideas for cheaper options when necessary or to capitalize on a sale. Compare costs between name brands and store brands and consider opting for the most economical option. Pay attention to sale advertisements. Identify those products that you use on a regular basis, such as health and beauty products, and try to purchase them when on they go on sale. Take advantage of coupons. Use coupons for items you would normally purchase. Check to see if your local grocery store offers double coupons or even triple coupons and enjoy the extra savings.

Put any savings you earn through cost-cutting measures to the side. Use the savings on a special event or extravagant meal as a reward for your dedication to sticking to your food budget.


About the Author

Nicole Long is a freelance writer based in Cincinnati, Ohio. With experience in management and customer service, business is a primary focus of her writing. Long also has education and experience in the fields of sports medicine, first aid and coaching. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in economics from the University of Cincinnati.

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