The price of food has been steadily increasing. The price of food is projected to continue to increase so we can all use food budgeting ideas to help us keep up. Food is a big expense and our food budget is an important part of our financial health.

a basket of food in the grocery store, looking at the food budgeting ideas

What is Food Budget

Even a 2-3 percent increase can be devastating to the monthly food budgeting of those who are already counting out their last pennies to purchase a loaf of bread. So, let’s look at some easy ways to reduce your monthly grocery bill. With food prices soaring, families must spend money even more wisely now.

With the current global financial crisis affecting every household, in particular families living on low incomes or a single income, the need to reduce food bills becomes even more pressing. Some lifestyle adjustment is necessary to achieve that. Granted, the effort to slash food bills will be tough initially but it is achievable.

Here are some ways to save money when shopping for food. Knowing what to eat to save money is not as hard as you might think.

Some people will tell you that the generic isn’t as good as the name brand, that it tastes different, is a different texture or consistency. Most generic products are manufactured by a brand-name company and distributed with different labeling. If you are unsure about using generic products, try one item at a time and if it meets your standards continue to purchase the generic brand.

Many canned and prepackaged goods are fine to use past their expiration date. Some stores will put canned and packaged goods that have passed their expiration date on sale. Canned goods can be used up to 1 year past their expiration date. Just check to make sure the can isn’t rusted, bulged, or darkened. Dry goods like flour, sugar, and salt, really do not expire.

a woman in the grocery store with a calculator

Budget Friendly Grocery List

First, check the refrigerator and pantry to see what the items needed are. Make a list and stick to the list when shopping at the supermarket or grocery store. Resist the temptation to buy things, not on the list. Try to shop only once a week and set only a certain amount of time shopping. This is because the more time a shopper spends in the store, the more likely they are to end up with impulse purchases. Also, eat first before going to the store. Hungry shoppers tend to buy more foodstuff than is necessary!

Supermarkets often send out flyers and other advertising materials to promote their weekly specials. Don’t treat these as junk mail. Read them carefully and circle the cheap items that the family needs. Local newspapers may also carry these advertisements and sometimes come with coupons and vouchers for shoppers. Make full use of these.

According to a study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, eating healthier food could help save money. And it sure will in the long run on medical bills! The researchers found that families that had weight-loss diets lost not only excess weight but reduced their spending on food as well. The food bill reduction was a result of smaller food portions and the purchase of fewer high-calorie foods. So ditch sugary beverages, chips, fatty food, chocolates, and ice-creams. Opt for healthier and cheaper greens and grains instead. Also, cut down on alcoholic beverages. Buy them only on special occasions.

To avoid food wastage and help with food budgeting, parents should serve children much smaller portions of food. Most American parents serve their children huge portions of food, resulting in about 30% to 50% of it being discarded. That’s because children under four have only about a quarter of an adult’s body weight but are often fed half an adult portion. It’s little wonder they can’t finish their food. When deciding how much to give your kids, start small and work your way up. If they eat what’s on their plates, you can always give them more.

Prices vary from one store to another. Some items may be on sale at Store A but not Store B in a particular week. The reverse may occur in the following week. So always compare prices before hitting the store with the grocery list. Check the flyers and advertisements to see which store will help stretch the dollar more.

working on the food budget at home at the computer with a cup of coffee and a calculator

Eat at Home

Eating out is expensive. So try to cook and eat at home as often as possible. Cooking meals at home also allows parents to include only fresh and healthy choices in the meals. For the same reasons, it’s best to pack lunch for the spouse and kids at work and school respectively.

If there is enough space in the backyard, why not plant some fruit trees and vegetables? Tomatoes, beans, and herbs are fairly easy to grow. Start small first and if it goes well, plant more variety of greens. If the harvest is good, consider freezing or canning the produce. That way, there will be plenty of food to last the family for a while. And since it’s home-grown, there are no concerns about the use of harmful pesticides.

With determination, there are ways to save money when food shopping. Food budgeting ideas such as planning and listing items to buy; buying during sales; choosing healthy food choices; serving children smaller food portions; shopping at different stores that offer good bargains; eating at home as well as planting your own fruits and vegetables are just some strategies that families can try.