Living Frugal with Food: Part I (budget)

When looking at our spending on food as a whole, I couldn’t believe how much we were spending. Especially since we’re a small family. I couldn’t believe how much money we were wasting on food! Each week, I was throwing away food and money. Not only was it wasteful, but irresponsible. This was the first area I tackled when trying to save money but I didn’t even know where to begin.

I realized that discussing “food spending” is a big issue. So I’m breaking it down into four categories. I’ll cover each of them over the next few weeks: Part I: Creating a budget, Part II: Using coupons, Part III: Grocery shopping, and Part IV: Eating out.

Creating a budget

Can you imagine cutting your grocery bill by 50% or more within a couple months? It’s possible.

Start with a budget. Trust me, I feel your pain when I mention this word. But having a budget is they key to understanding how well you’re doing once you start making more of an effort to save money on food. Start out slow. You don’t have to cut back your grocery bill by 50% overnight. It will happen eventually, trust me.

A basic monthly food budget helps you see how much money is being spent each month, and how it compares to what you want to spend. It’s much easier to track your spending and savings when you have a pre-planned budget.

It’s easy to figure out your monthly budget. Take your last grocery receipts from the last two months (or start saving them so you can do this in 2 months) and calculate your average spending per month. Once you average your monthly spending, come up with a reasonable budget that cuts that number down. Once you have a monthly budget, this is the goal you try to stick to with food spending. It’s taken several months for us to find a grocery budget dollar amount that we’re comfortable with.

Don’t set unrealistic expectations. This will set you up for failure and you might give up. Keep your budget realistic; it will help you save more in the long run. Like I said, it’s taken us several months to get where we are today.

I’m going to be extremely honest. We were spending way too much on food when I initially set a food budget. So I was able to cut our spending in half almost immediately. Cutting spending was easy once I started paying attention to where the money was going, and how much I could save with store deals and coupons. We’ll cover Using coupons next week. I now have a goal of reducing our original food spending by 65%. We are currently spending an average of about 60% less than we averaged before setting a budget. I think this is a healthy goal for our family. The budget we set gives us a little flexibility without being super strict, and still allows us to save a decent amount each month.

You shouldn’t have to skimp on the things you like. If  you plan your budget right, choose to be smart, and know what to buy and when, the rest will happen on it’s own. Just take it slow. Every month, lower you budget a little more. Once you get into the groove and start to see some savings, you’ll be more comfortable knowing what your family’s needs are, and how that matches up with a reasonable food budget.

Continue the series: Part II (coupons)

*photo by thisisbossi on flickr.

About Frugal Day

Frugal Day is a place to share the ideas, coupons, and deals that make it easy to live and shop responsibly. I love to save, and I believe that …

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