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Did you know that a few quick and easy steps can save you and your family big bucks? Developing and following to a food budget is an effective way to save time and money at the grocery store.

Look at creating a food budget as insurance against being hungry at the end of the month. Food budgeting is the perfect way to make sure your family has the means to eat nourishing and delicious meals all month long.

Planning to Save involves three simple steps:

Step 1: Know what you currently spend on food

The first thing you must do to plan to save is know how much money you currently spend on food. Many people over or underestimate the amount of money spent on food each month. Knowing exactly how much you spend on food is necessary to know where you can make changes to save money.

A great way to start on developing your food budget is to look at what you spend for a month. Begin by keeping track of EVERYTHING you spend on food for the next week or month. You must try to include everything-groceries, take-out, school-lunch, restaurant meals, convenience stores, morning coffee, pastries, vending machine food, etc. This may seem overwhelming, but it will be extremely helpful in creating a realistic food budget you can stick to!

Step 2: Determine how much you have to spend on food each month

To help decide if what you spend on groceries is more than what ou should spend on food ask yourself

  • Were you surprised by how much or how little you spent on food? Were you shocked to see how much or little you spent on certain items?
  • Did I spend more on prepared and restaurant foods than I did at the grocery store?
  • Are there food items I am willing to go without?
  • Did I have a lot of food left over at the end of the month?
  • Did I run out of food before the end of month?

Did I throw out a lot of food because it spoiled before I ate it?

If you answered YES to any of these questions, you are a perfect candidate for plan to save! Adjust your budget to be more in line with what you would like to be spending.

Step 3: Implement your food budget

Once you have determined your monthly budget:

Shop once a week and divide your monthly food dollars into four portions, one for each week. If most of the shopping is done once per month, make sure to budget part of the food dollars for items that you will need to purchase later in the month.

Possible methods:
  • Some people put cash in envelopes, one for each week. Once the cash is gone, the grocery budget is gone.
  • Others keep track of their total food budget and subtract from it every time they go to the store. Once the total reaches zero, the grocery budget is spent. It takes some self-control to not spend the entire budget at the beginning of the month but, like all good things, it is definitely worth it.

Remember you may have to adjust your food budget occasionally. You may be surprised by how much less money you are able to spend and still keep nutritious and tasty food around all month! You don't have to use all of your food budget each month. If you discover you consistently have extra money, you may want to reassess. You can probably plan on spending less every month!