Back in the days when my husband and I were a double income childless family we budgeted a whopping $35 a week for food. That amount made sense 13 years ago. I cooked from scratch, shopped all the area stores for bargains, religiously used coupons, and viewed grocery shopping as a game.
Today we are a single income family with FIVE children. I could easily spend $35 a week just on milk, bread, and eggs! So when my husband and I determine our food budget I could tell him $35, but that wouldn’t be a realistic budget for our food needs. An unrealistic budget leads to frustration and, ultimately, giving up on frugal shopping altogether.
So, step one in feeding my family on a budget is to create a realistic budget amount. To do this I need to consider:
- Special Dietary Needs. Food allergies and sensitivities will limit what you can purchase and may increase your budget.
- Organic, Free Range, Pasture Fed, or Local Harvest. Are these issues important to you? If so, you must be willing to pay for them.
- Food Only. Will you only include groceries or will you also include restaurant/take out food, toiletries, or cleaning supplies in this budget?
If you are new to budgeting then you may want to just track your food spending for a couple of months to get a feel for how much you spend. Once you have that amount then look for ways to reduce spending.
For the purposes of comparing apples to apples during the remainder of this series you should know that my budget is based on:
- only food prepared at home. No toiletries or cleaning products and no restaurant/take out food. We budget those items separately.
- I do not purchase organic, free range, etc. UNLESS it is cheaper than mainstream food. My current priority is to spend the least amount of money possible on food.
- We do not have any allergies or food sensitivities in my family.
Are you wondering how much I budget for food for my family of 7? My current budget is $500 a month or $100 a week. I’ll be honest, it requires discipline and intentional choices but seeing our savings account grow makes it worth the effort!
Come back tomorrow and I’ll share how I use menu plans to make intentional food shopping choices.
What are your food shopping priorities?