Budgets are super important for families for many reasons. One is to manage the bills that are not constant each month. Food bills fluctuate depending on the month and the time of year. Everyone has to eat, and this is the one area you can really pull in the savings! It’s time to get a handle on your grocery shopping with a budget.
Fundamentals of Budgeting
Before you start any type of budget, know how much money you are dealing with first. Grocery shopping is only one line item in the entire budget. To decide what money you can devote to grocery shopping, take an inventory of all of your expenditures.
Start with the large bills that are due each month, or fixed expenses. This includes your mortgage or rent, car payment, daycare, insurance, and utility bills. Out of what’s left, you have your flexible expenses like groceries, etc.
Getting Down to Basics
- What does your family eat? Creating a budget that you can live with starts with knowing what foods the family eats most and which ones you can probably do without to save money. It may require you to do a little research at the grocery store just to assess the prices of certain items.
- Consider alternatives to some of your food choices. For instance, if your family likes chicken nuggets, buy a pack of frozen chicken tenderloins and crumb them yourself to save money. Any time you buy foods that are packaged and ready to pop in the oven with no preparation, you can count on paying almost twice as much as their unprepared counterparts.
- Eliminate as many snacks as possible from the food budget. They are always expensive and can quickly upset even the best planned food budget. If you do need a few snacks in the budget, choose one or two that are nutritious and can substitute for lunch or even a light dinner. Look for snacks that can be prepared at home; things like popcorn are perfect.
- Remember the foods that are purchased often when planning your budget. A 2 litre milk may be bought on Monday but by the following Wednesday you will need another one. Be sure to account for items that are bought more than once a month to keep up with demand.
- Once you have a number, strive to stick with it for at least three months. Budgets always have to be tweaked at some time, but give it an honest try before you determine if it needs to be expanded. Review the areas you spend the most money and see what can be trimmed more, and see which areas you keep going over budget and figure out an adjustment to stay within your budget.
- Keep a grocery diary to help monitor your spending. Writing the costs of each item or group of food items will help you see where you are spending the most or least money on food.