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.
Wow! Thanks for this! The USDA link was eye-opening. I felt like my food bill was growing and now I can see just where it falls.
I enjoy reading your tips and ideas weekly! Would you happen to have a Canadian resource ?
Thanks in advance,
Mom of 2 boys :)
I wasn’t able to find a Canada-specific resource when researching the post -sorry! However, the US-based guides are estimates and after converting the US dollar to CA dollar you should have a guide for your family.