Mr. BFS and I have been slipping with our food budget over the last couple of months. But now the holidays are over, we’re getting back to our normal routines. Here is how we are trying to stick to our $500 a month or less food budget.
Our first order of business when we are trying to control spending is to write down every expense. We’ve placed a simple piece of paper on our refrigerator and document every, single time we spend money on food. We put the amount and the name of the place we were at when we spent the money. There are two columns – one for eating out and one for groceries. By the end of our budget month, we’ll know exactly how much we spend in each category.
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It’s also very motivating for me to share our progress with others. I use my blog, Budgeting in the Fun Stuff, to post updates and results from our food expense adventures. I even take a photo of our fridge sheet so everybody can see exactly how many times we ate out or grabbed groceries. Knowing that all of my readers will know exactly how we did motivates me to make sure that we succeed.
We are not as advanced as some people when it comes to meal planning, but we try. About once every week or two, we make a plan on what to eat for lunches and dinners for 7-10 days. We use that plan to make our grocery list. The idea is that we won’t waste money on extra stuff that we don’t need.
We usually end up buying at least one or two items that are not on the lists and eat out once or twice that weren’t planned, but we do make sure to eat all of the groceries we buy. In general, the plan at least persuades us to eat at home more often.
How do you stay within your food budget?
Crystal Stemberger uses Budgeting in the Fun Stuff to write about finding the balance between paying your bills, saving for your future, and budgeting in the fun stuff along the way.