Yes, you eat the food but the food may, in fact, be eating your budget.
I went a ways back through our budget, and historically, consistently, groceries is the category we most often overspend.For some of you it’s eating out. But either way, food, food, food—so much money on food.
Is food eating your budget? Because it certainly eats ours! Here is what we did to tackle it:
Curb Eating Out
You can try to convince yourself that eating out isn’t that much more. But it is. Make sure you have separate budget categories for groceries and eating out, so you have more visibility into where the money is going. Eating in more often, even once more a week, will help the bottom line.
Obey The List
This isn’t a new idea, but it works. We’ve all walked into Costco for milk, and $300 later, dazed and confused. It’s not so different than making a budget, right? Decide what your dollars will do before you spend them. Decide what you need at the store, before you go in, and then stick to your list.
Stop Pretending Meal Planning Is Optional
Don’t make a random list. Take the time to plan out your meals. What do you have? What is on sale? What can you do with leftovers? Just planning ahead is all the difference. Maybe you double a recipe and make two (one to freeze) when something is on sale? Or you use half of something on Monday, and be sure to use the other half later in the week so it doesn’t go to waste. If you take the time, there is a lot of money to be saved.
Own Your Truth
Like how many mouths you feed. If you and your partner, are comparing your $1,000 food budget, with my $1,000 food budget, just remember that I have six children. It isn’t always apples to apples. And when all my kids are teenagers—man—I don’t even know, but I know it will affect the budget. Or maybe you love to entertain, and having people over for dinner is a big part of your social life. Great—but work it into the budget. Or maybe cooking is a hobby for you or your spouse, and it’s all about new recipes, exotic ingredients, and creativity. Also, great, so accept that food is a priority and budget accordingly.
Attack It From All Sides
Evaluate your habits, your patterns, and your averages. Consider lunches and dinners, groceries and eating out. You can budget more or you can really be committed to spending less or a little bit of both.
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