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6 Tips to Cut Your Food Budget in Half

Are you finding yourself spending too much money on groceries? Know that you are spending too much but can’t pinpoint where the money is going? Don’t fret, this happens to the best of us and there are things you can do today to cut your food spending!

If you are wondering how you can spend less on groceries without eating pasta every day or clipping coupons, check out the list below to see how you can cut your food budget in half with these simple tips:

Establish a Food Budget.

Establishing a food budget is essential if you want to reduce what you are spending. When asked, most people want to save money on food but don’t know exactly how much they should be spending. Creating a weekly budget for food, and only food, is an important first step to figuring out ways to save.

Related: How to Create a Food Budget for your Family
<<link to budget post 1>>

Shop less often.

More trips to the grocery means more money you’ll spend on food. Even if you “forgot” something, that trip is likely to result on purchasing other items that were not on your original list.

Establishing a “shopping” day once a week is ideal because you’ll be able to plan your meals from week to week without feeling overwhelmed. There are some budget-shopping pros that swear by two bulk shopping days per month and a quick trip to the store once a week for fresh items like milk, but if you are starting to watch your food budget, once a week is the way to go.

Related: Budget Friendly Dinner Meal Plan

Comparison Shop.

Going to multiple stores on a single shopping trip can seem like a hassle but when you create a shopping list and then allocate certain products to a store where you know the price is much cheater, you’ll save on average 20-40% on groceries.

Prices can vary tremendously from store to store so knowing what to shop where is crucial. Again, try to consolidate the shopping trip to a single day to eliminate impulse buys and only shop for the items you know are cheaper in that store.

Pay with cash.

Say you allocate $200 per week to your grocery budget, why not put the cash in an envelope marked as “groceries” and set out to shop with it? The thought of not having enough cash at checkout alone should keep you from loading the cart with items you don’t need. It’s impossible to go over budget when you don’t have any additional cash to pay with, don’t you think?

Create a budget meal plan.

It’s one thing to create a meal plan another to make this a thrifty plan that includes real food and fresh ingredients. Most people think that it’s impossible to feed a family good food when on a budget, but you can! Our Budget Dinner Plan has helped our members make 5 dinner meals for $50 per week!

Shop your pantry.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve purchased an additional can of black beans or another frozen bag of broccoli, for example. Sure, they don’t seem like an expensive item but $5 or more per week on items you already have at home add up!

After creating a meal plan, head to your fridge, freezer, and pantry and mark off the items you already have at home. This will ensure that you will save money and that the food you have won’t go to waste.

3 Are you spending too much on food, trying to figure out how much you should spend on food, or trying to calculate your family’s monthly food budget.

How to Calculate Your Family’s Monthly Food Budget

Are you spending too much on food? Or maybe, you are still trying to figure out how much you should spend on food. Or maybe, you are still trying to calculate your family’s monthly food budget.

Creating a food budget is imperative to maintaining a healthy overall budget in your household. If you want to create the ideal food budget for a family of four, check out these tips to see how you should go about it.

To start out, you need to sit down and look at your family’s monthly budget; what income you have coming in each month and what expenses you have each month. Next figure out how much you have been spending every month on groceries. Have you been spending too much? Taking your newfound budget into consideration, think about how much you can afford to spend and create your family’s new grocery budget from that.

For more specific budget standards, check out the USDA’s cost of food tables. Each month they take into consideration an updated cost of food and create standard budget guides.

For example A family of four, with two adults and two kids between 6-11 years old could estimate a budget of $180 week (average) on a “low-cost” option and $240 on a “moderate-cost” plan. That same family can get ultra-thrifty and spend an average of $140 for all meals but that would take some planning for sure. Check out our budget-friendly 6-week plan.

Now that you know the amount that you have budgeted, it is time to create a meal plan based on your family of four. It’s important to create the meal plan and even more important is that you follow that meal plan. Creating meals outside of your menu, you will often find yourself going over your budget since you have to make extra shopping trips, etc.

Related: The $50/week Dinner Meal Plan

At the point that you have figured out your food budget, you can try it out for the first month and then decide if any adjustments can be made to make your budget better. You can do this by doing a food audit of your household. This means that you ask yourself a couple of questions such as:

  • How many meals are we eating out?
  • How many of those meals can be eaten at home?
  • Do we have a lot of unused leftovers?
  • Do we have a freezer full of food that is not being eaten?
  • Is there anything that we are buying, but not using? Could we cut these out of the budget to save?

After assessing how many meals you might be eating out that could be replaced with a homemade meal, you’ll need to add some of the dining-out funds towards the grocery budget. Typically, for every $10 spent on dining out, you allocate $5 to the grocery budget and save the other $5.

It will take some trial and error, but once you get your food budget created and you follow it, you will see how much money you can save and, surprisingly, how much better you will be eating.