Once you have set a weekly food budget, then comes the hard part – actually sticking to it! It is important that you start with a realistic budget for yourself and your family, but no matter how much you have to spend, you can make it work and eat healthy food at the same time.
Choose Your Starting Day and What is Included
Before you can stick to your budget, you need to know exactly how much you have to spend, and in what length of time. This is when it helps to choose what day it starts and ends. When do you usually grocery shop? If it is on Sunday, decide if your weeks start on Sundays, so that you know if you buy groceries today, it counts towards your food budget for this next week through Saturday.
What is included in your food budget? Is it just groceries or does it include ordering takeout and delivery as well? Are you including coffee you buy at Starbucks during the week or snacks you get at the gas station?
Track Every Dollar You Spend
Every single dollar you spend on food should be tracked. In fact, if you haven’t created your food budget yet, this is a good place to start. It is really easy to spend more than you intended to on food, especially with impulse purchases while shopping for other things. It is important to keep track of everything you buy as far as food and groceries goes, and tweak your budget if you need to based on this information.
Meal Plan with Food You Already Have
To save money and spend less within your food budget, always start by building meals with ingredients you already have. Check your canned food and determine if it goes with any healthy meals you can make, check your seasonings cabinet, look what is in your freezer that is still good.
Consider Food That Stretches Farther
Some foods tend to stretch a little farther than others, being used for multiple meals. These are the foods to consider adding to the rotation. For example, a bag of potatoes is inexpensive and goes a long way. Potatoes can be cooked dozens of different ways and used for so many meals. Plus, they last a few weeks before going bad, so it is a great ingredient to purchase for healthy, inexpensive meals.
Have No-Spend Days or Weekends
An easy way to cut back on spending is to have no-spend days or entire weekends. Choose a day of the week where you won’t spend any money, except on necessities. The more you do this, the more you get into the habit of not always spending money just because you can.