Finding a way to balance a budget in this economy only gets harder and harder. Inflation drives prices up, and it is hard to find the “right” way to budget for your family’s food consumption. How much you spend on groceries will depend on accessibility, how many mouths you may have to feed, as well as a variety of other factors. So, how do you master a budget for your food in 2021?
Prices may vary depending on consumption rates and the relative cost of living. Make sure to account for eating out on your budget, as the food you consume there will contribute to your expenses.
Keep in mind that this is only a rough estimate, and there are many ways for a frugal buyer to spread the use of a dollar. Use this guide to assess your current food budget, and if you are over, keep reading to learn a few tips and tricks that will help you nail your monthly grocery budget. Start saving better by reducing the amount of money you spend on food and make the most out of your dollar by investing in some of the helpful tips below.
Calculating Your Monthly Budget
Many people want a defined goal to shoot for when planning their budget, and budgeting for food can be really easy if you take the necessary steps to reduce the amount you spend on frivolous food expenses. It is reasonable to spend anywhere from $150 to $300 a month on food expenses for one person based on USDA’s monthly food plan, depending on their age. Expect to spend $150 on a child, $200 a month on a teenager, and $250-$300 a month on any adult residing in the home.
There are quite a few factors that will determine how much to spend on each family member depending on their age, and how much it costs to find quality food ingredients in their area. Take a look at some of the reasons your grocery costs could increase to up to or over the $300 maximum budget threshold below:
- Location – Grocers in New York City will charge more for grocery expenses than any rural area, so you may have to spend up to $300 a month for quality groceries.
- Organic Foods – Buying whole foods or foods made from only organic materials can be much more expensive than buying processed foods.
- Eating Out – If you make eating out a common pastime, you may be unintentionally throwing money down the drain compared to the money you would save by cooking more regularly.
Young children are less expensive to feed, so if you do not spend any excess money on eating out or organic foods, you can expect to pay $150 a month for a child’s food budget.
With the fixed rates of $250 a month per adult and $150 per child, a family of 6 (2 adults and 4 children) should expect to pay $1,200 a month on food expenses. A family of 4 (2 adults and 2 children) should expect to pay $900 a month on food expenses.
Remember, the actual monthly cost you spend may have to be slightly adjusted from this estimate. These numbers only represent a healthy guideline that will help you save money and eat more effectively.
8 Simple Ways to Reduce Your Monthly Food Budget
If you are looking for a way to reduce the amount of money you spend monthly on food, you have come to the right place. Finding sure-cut ways to save money is only getting harder and harder, and the ways to save of the past do not hold the same value as they once did.
You may be looking for ways to save a couple of dollars here and there on your grocery bill. Learn more about ways to reduce your monthly food spending habits with our 8 helpful tips below.
1. Manage Your Coupon Collection
Coupons are a great way to save money, and people have been using coupons for decades. Coupons have been more easily accessible, and you can often find coupons for grocery options online at the click of a button. While big coupons may score great savings deals, strategizing your coupons is the best method for success.
Before even hitting the market, you should strategize the coupons you will be using to save. Do not go out of your way to save on an item that is not already on your list, as that may increase your overall costs and break your budget.
2. Utilize Frozen Meals
Cheap frozen meals have gotten better in the past few years, and inexpensive healthy options have flooded grocers’ markets. When buying a frozen meal that is already mostly prepared, you will save money on the raw materials that you would have to buy to make a similar dish. Make the most out of the frozen section in your local market to save money and time.
You can also freeze fresh food that you have not completely eaten. Making a routine out of leftovers helps you utilize all the food that you have already bought and saves you from having to cook another meal. Use frozen vegetables for a side or get some frozen berries for a healthy smoothie breakfast.
3. Bring Your Lunch to Work
It is easy to over-spend on your monthly food budget when you are used to eating out for lunch on your workdays. Even if you decide to live off of unhealthy cheap fast food, eating leftovers or prepping for your week with lunch meals may be able to save you cash in the long run.
Salads, soups, and sandwiches are all inexpensive meals that you are able to find at the grocery store in lunch-sized portions. If you like to cook, consider meal prepping every weekend before your work schedule begins so that you can have healthy affordable meals each day as you work.
4. Find the Most Affordable Store
It may benefit your health, in the long run, to always shop a whole food, but shopping there too much will easily overspend your $250 monthly budget. Try to do the majority of your shopping at a bulk grocery store or a superstore that features everyday deals. Only get organic or whole foods when necessary for certain dietary restrictions or special recipes.
Different stores have different deals every month, so make sure to do some research about your local grocer’s markets to make sure that you are not spending too much money on things you could be saving on.
5. Keep an Active Grocery List
It is easy to go to the store and buy a bunch of pointless food items that you may not eat anyway. If you do not believe me, try going shopping while you’re hungry. You will quickly find out how easy it is to have too big of eyes when shopping for your weekly food binge.
If you keep an active grocery list, it will be easier for you to assess which foods are essential, and which foods you may be able to splurge on while still staying true to your budget. If you stay true to your grocery list, you will not have to worry about spending too much money on foods you regret buying.
6. Eat Before Grocery Shopping
As we have said before, it is easy to go to the store to buy a few food items and leaving with a whole cart of food, especially if you are hungry. Psychology is tricky and hunger has a way of bringing out the worst in us. The easiest way to fix hunger is to buy food, but if you are shopping while hungry, you may be giving in to this primal response.
If you eat before going to the grocery store, you will be more likely to refrain from buying items outside of your grocery list. Be a responsible eater and an even more responsible shopper. Save money on groceries by eating before you shop.
7. Buy in Bulk
A great way for families to save money on groceries is to buy commonly eaten items in bulk. If your children like a certain cereal, do not buy the family size. If you buy in bulk, you will have to buy certain items less because you will have a greater amount of food in your cabinet all at a discounted price.
People who decide to buy in bulk should be wary of service charges and wasted food though. Memberships to bulk stores are only worth the expense if you buy enough food to cover membership costs. If your family is wasting some of the bulk food to bad expiration dates, it may be time to re-evaluate your bulk grocery store membership.
8. Utilize Online Services
In today’s world, time is money. You can save time by buying your groceries online and picking them up at your earliest convenience. Many people in 2021 are going online to help give us time back from standing in grocery store lines and mindlessly shopping through crowded aisles. Avoid spending an excessive amount of time at the grocery store by shopping for your groceries online and using the in-store pickup features.
Another way to save online is to find digital coupons and savings deals. Often, a store will only promote a certain savings deal with a digital coupon, and an easy internet search on common grocery items can save a lot of money in the long run if you decide to use them. Strategize your grocery spending online for the best savings results.
Pinching pennies has become a norm across the world, and saving your money is only getting harder and harder thanks to inflation. Make the most out of your money by reducing the amount that you spend on groceries every month.
Budgeting food can be frustrating, but with this comprehensive guide, you will be able to accurately assess your situation and determine how much money you should be spending with your household’s food budget. Take some of the savings tips to mind the next time you have to shop for your food and save more money than you ever thought possible.
Budget your food consumption by implementing the tools you found in this article in your monthly food budget to make the most out of your money this year.