Budget. The B-word. The word that everyone loves to hate. If you too feel this way, this post is for you.
Setting a realistic food budget can take some time. It’s a trial and error process. Especially if you don’t know what you are currently spending. These next steps are essential if you are serious about creating a food budget.
- The first thing you have to do is track your spending. This is the hardest part. But don’t be discouraged. It gets easier over time. To do this you have to keep track of every penny that you spend on food and drinks. Yes, drinks count too. So does eating out or take away. There are many ways to do this. You can use a notebook, an app, or take photos of your receipts. Whatever you choose, make sure it is easy to take a note. Don’t wait until the end of the day to write everything down. Keep track as you go about in your day. As a mother, I am always on the go. What has worked for me is to keep my receipts and write everything on an excel sheet at night. Keeping the receipts alleviates the stress of forgetting something at the end of the day.
- Set your priorities. This can be tricky. We all want to splurge on groceries but have you ever actually put thought about what you value in the food that you eat? Is price the most important factor? How important is it to you to buy locally grown food or even organic? Do you prefer to buy simple ingredients to cook meals from scratch or are you looking for pre-made convenience foods? The key to this step is, to be honest with yourself. Your answers should reflect YOUR values, needs, and lifestyle and nothing but that. No one but you needs to know about them so do yourself a favor and be sincere.
- Compare prices. Although you can’t get the best price for everything in one shop, there are benefits to shopping at only one store; minimizing impulse buys being one of them. Having said that, some stores are cheaper than others. Keep in mind that shopping and eating habits differ greatly from one person to another, so a store that is cheaper for your friend will not necessarily be cheaper for you. Shop around before you commit.
- So, now that you know how much you spend, what you spend it on, and where you shop, it is time to ask yourself: “What can I afford?” “How much money do I WANT to spend on food?”. Since you know what you spend and where it is easy to see if you feel comfortable where you are at or if you need to make any changes in order to lower your food costs. If you want to cut back I advise you to make small changes at a time. That way you are more likely to stick to them and successfully lower your budget.
And if you have any suggestions about how to create a food budget please leave them in the comments so we can all benefit from them.
Do you have a food budget?