Posted on Wednesday 01 October 2014
This article is part of our Finance Hub.
Food is almost always going to be one of the bigger expenses in your budget, especially if you have a large family to feed. This guide will teach you how to manage your food budget and make your dollar go further.
Knowledge is power. If you don't know how much you're spending on food, it will be difficult to save. Save all of your receipts for a month to give you an idea of the total amount you expend on food, including any spur-of-the-moment decisions to eat out instead of cooking. Add some extra to the total: your food costs can vary month to month based on certain variables such as food deals. Budgeting is essential because it prevents you from having to take emergency loans to meet your daily needs.
This is also why you shouldn’t use the “envelope of cash” approach when discussing budgeting for meals, as costs often vary. Subsequently, once you have your budget, keep track of your spending throughout the month to see if you’re sticking with it. Otherwise, you should reevaluate your needs and take a new approach.
Shopping and Planning
Plan your meals for the week.
Having a plan helps you to adequately manage your grocery shopping and reduce the number of things you buy on impulse. Impulse buying, even of food on sale, can really ruin your food budget. Go into the store knowing exactly what you’re going to buy, and buy only what’s on your list. When you’re planning, use grocery store flyers to find out what’s on sale and plan accordingly.
Check online for coupons as well. If your schedule allows it, try to get to the store around the closing hours. When using coupons, don't forget to keep your credit card details protected. Sometimes people get too excited at the counters and leave their credit card for some stranger to use. Make sure you protect yourself from fraud by taking these simple steps.
Notably, your budget might require that you get a loan to meet some of your needs. If you find yourself in this circumstance, My Canada Payday is a place to consider for getting stress-free loans.
The importance of getting to grocery stores around the closing hours is that you can get some items cheaper. Grocery stores typically reduce the prices of perishable items towards the end of the day to clear them. Just remember that you won’t be the only person aiming for this, so move quickly and try to find out exactly when your local store gets out the clearance stickers. Where possible, buy in bulk, either by loading up your cart during a good sale or by shopping at a bulk food retailer. Canned or dry food items such as rice, pasta, or beans can be kept for a long time, so you can buy them in bulk. This way, you can eat well without going over your budget.
When it comes to making purchases, there are certain food items you can leave out. Below are some of the considerations to make to know what you can do without.
First, try to eat seasonally. Ever noticed how cheap corn gets during the summer? Produce is often cheaper when it is grown locally, so check out your local farmers’ market. Find out what food items are in season in your province, and look for them on shelves. Beyond that, there are some reductions that you can make to save money. Desserts, drinks, and meat tend to be high-priced items that you can cut back on. Desserts are more of a luxury than an essential: they can be cut out entirely without really affecting your nutrition. Such reductions will save you some money.
You should also take a careful look at your drink purchases. If you can get healthy water directly from your tap, you should be able to live without spending on bottled water or drinks. Meat is also a big-ticket item. Going vegetarian isn’t necessary, but you can cut your food budget significantly by reducing your meat consumption. Effective budgeting will help you save money without spending too much on certain items.
Picture the scene: it’s late, you’ve just got home from a long day at work, you’re tired, and there’s nothing in the refrigerator except raw ingredients. Do you cook, or do you flop down in front of the television and order a pizza? There’s a simple way to avoid this dilemma. When you cook, make some extra to refrigerate for situations like this. Impulse buying adversely affects your budget, so make it easy to avoid impulse buys by exercising discipline towards your budget.