Posted by Charity on February 29th, 2008

I’m back with new title and another tip for getting on the road to financial health.

Let’s review where we are.

The first step was to assess your situation by writing down every expense for 30 days.

After a couple of weeks, I encouraged you to start evaluating non-essential recurrent purchases that you could cut back on, or cut out completely, and remember that every dollar counts.

Today, I want to talk about ways you can save money on your food budget.

With food prices rising, this is a growing concern among even those who are not trying to get out of debt.

This is a huge topic, so I want to start with the basics.

First, you need to have a food budget. Many people do not. I never did until last year.

You can start by looking at your 30 day record, if you have one, or your bank statement or checkbook, if you buy groceries using check or debit.

Once you get a feel for what you actually spend, you will be able to keep track of how much you save, stick to your new budget, and use the savings for other things like paying down debt, saving, or applying toward rising costs in another budget area.

There are a lot of ways to save money on groceries. When I started out, I saved $150/month by following three simple tips: plan your menu, shop sales, and stick to your list.

Shopping sales is as simple or complex as you want to make it.

I started out with buying the meat that was on sale that week and planning my meals around that. I also bought extra, so that I would have variety in the following weeks.

Cereals are another heavy hitter. They can cost over $4.00 a box at some stores! Stock up when they are on sale or eat whatever is on sale that week.

You can add as many or as few other items to the list of things that you will only buy on sale. The more you buy only when it is on sale, the more you save.

When sale shopping, it is helpful to know the regular price of the items. Sales are not always a good deal, especially when compared to other stores.

Trent, at The Simple Dollar, has a good tutorial on creating a price book for comparison shopping, if you decide to expand your sale shopping effort.

Menu planning is as simple as writing down what you are going to have for dinner each day of the week.

If you want to see what menu plans look like, the blog Organizing Junkie runs a weekly feature called Menu Plan Monday. It is a collection of links to hundreds of menu plans.

Make a grocery list using the sales fliers and your menu plan as a starting point and stick to the list when you are at the store.

If you can, try to do all of your weekly shopping in one trip.

Shopping once a week (or less) and sticking to a list will dramatically reduce your number of impulse buys, saving you money.

Have you ever gone in the store for “a few things” and ended up spending much more than you planned?

Imagine how much you will save when you eliminate those purchases.

There are many more ways to save money on food, but I wanted to start off with what I think are the easiest to implement – menu planning, shopping with a list, and buying on sale.

Since there are so many other topics I want to cover here, I will post additional grocery saving tips on my mommy blog in the coming weeks and include links in future Friday’s Focus on Financial Health posts.

One Response to “Friday’s Focus on Financial Health: Food Budget”

  1. One of things that I’ve noticed since moving here a long time ago was the lack of freely-available coupons. Do you use coupons, and, if so, what are some good sources for them? I’ve also noticed that a lot of store coupons suck…”buy five and get 50 cents off”…well, what if I didn’t need five of that junk in the first place?

    Impulse buys…ugh…these are my downfall everytime. Try not to shop hungry.