7 Ways To Put Real Food In Your Budget
If you are like our family, you struggle most months trying to put real food in your budget. Some months good, other months bad. In fact, it may seem that there are more bad financial months than there are good.
Today, we are going to look at 7 ways to put real food in your budget. Even using 1 or 2 of these ideas will help EMPOWER you towards a HOPE and a FUTURE.
Yes, it is that word—budget. Setting a budget is not only crucial for your groceries, it is needed for all of your bills.
Second only to your housing bills, your grocery budget is vitally important. Especially for the nutritional health and well being of every member of your family.
But the question is always: What Should I Spend On Groceries?
There are many theories and strategies on the answer to that very question. Even here at Free Stuff 4 Daily Needs, our answer will be different from a lot of other budgeting advisors.
We don’t ask you to set a certain price per week per person in your family. The reason we don’t is that if you only have $1,000 a month for income, then you still have to cover all of your bills. Whether you have 1 person or 5 people, your housing costs are going to take the biggest portion out of your income.
So, a calculation that we use personally for our own grocery budget goals, and yes, we live on $1,000/month income, is 16-18%. That would mean that on an income of $1,000/month, our grocery budget is $160-$180/month.
However, due to the extremely small amount that this is due to the low income we have, we are also willing to be content with $200 monthly purchases.
Admittedly, a small amount is hard to use to feed a larger family—but this calculation allows you to start somewhere.
Check out this article for more information on Basic Budgeting When You Are Broke.
2. Find The Best Grocery Prices
Making a Grocery Best Prices Book of your own, will help you determine what are the highest prices you are willing to pay for any one grocery item. For instance, I am willing to pay only $2.99 for a jar of Maxwell House Instant Coffee. As one local store sells the same item for $7.99-$8.99 a jar, I never buy it there. However, there are other stores that will sell it for $2.99 several times a year.
Because I know that I can get my favorite coffee for $2.99, I will only buy it for that price. So this is an item that would be listed in my own Grocery Best Prices Book.
Other items that I have pre-determined my highest prices on include:
- $0.99/lb for fruits
- and $0.99/lb for certain vegetables such as tomatoes
- $8.80/kg or less for any meats. How To Read A Meat Label has more information on this topic.
- Salad dressings and BBQ sauces no higher than $1.99 a bottle
- Pancake Mix or Table Syrup, no more than $1.99 each
Do you see what I’m saying? Keep track of the best deals on the items you buy regularly.
To get you started, here is your FREE copy of the Best Grocery Prices book.
3. Keep Track Of What Is In Your Pantry
Knowing what you actually have on hand in your Pantry can save you money. For instance, you only have 2 bottles of ketcup left in your Pantry. Well, if your family goes through ketchup quickly, you know that you need to look for a ketchup sale. Using the information from your Grocery Best Prices Book, you know what price to look for.
By consciously looking for ketchup to come on sale, you will prevent the problem of suddenly running out. Because if you run out and need some, you will end up having to pay the current grocery store price. Which is not likely to be on sale.
Also, if you know what you have in your Pantry you won’t run out and buy yet another box of teabags. That is because you currently have some 400 teabags in your cupboard. Seeing as you have plenty on hand, you do not need to waste your money on purchasing more at this current time. You could use this money to put other food items on your table instead.
So, by knowing what you have you prevent the problem of running out. You also prevent the problem of over excessive stockpiling of items. By preventing both of these problems, you will save money and put real food in your budget.
If you don’t know what is in your Pantry, take the Pantry Challenge for Beginners. In this challenge not only will you discover what is in your Pantry, it will get cleaned and organized too. Free Pantry Inventory Sheets can be downloaded throughout the Pantry Challenge for Beginners.
4. Use A Frugal Friday Flyer
Learn to shop the grocery flyers. In this way you can buy only those items that are on sale. By learning to slowly stock up your Pantry and freezer when items are on sale, you won’t get caught off guard. When items aren’t on sale, you don’t have to worry—you just go to the store at “home”. Learning to do this will save you hundreds of dollars over the year. Money that you can repurpose in your budget and put more real food on your table.
On our facebook page, every Thursday afternoon we post our Frugal Friday Flyer. It covers the best grocery deals from the stores in our region. I gather the information from both online and paper grocery flyers. I look for the best prices on meats, vegetables, fruits, and even toiletry articles. This is then compiled into a 2-4 page document. You can easily download and print it or take it with you on your cellphone.
But don’t worry, if you don’t live in our region, you can learn to make your own Frugal Friday Flyer. Go to this article to learn more about how: How To Make Your Own Frugal Friday Flyer
5. Be Flexible
As with all budgeting and money stretching ideas, there are times when you need to be flexible. Perhaps you have placed an item on your Frugal Friday Flyer that is on sale. However, when you get to the grocery store, there is another similar item that is an even better price.
Scratch the item off that you put on your list and buy the item at the better price. Perhaps it might even be a slightly different item. For instance, maybe you were planning to buy some Romaine lettuce. But upon arriving at the grocery store you discover that green cabbage is at a really great price.
You were planning on serving Caesar salad this coming week. However, by being flexible, you will now make some coleslaw instead.
See, you are saving money and still putting real food on your table.
6. Avoid Convenience Foods
Convenience foods are well, convenient. However, they are expensive. Just running to a fast food restaurant seems simple, but it certainly adds up fast. Oh, and it isn’t healthy either. And we are talking about getting real food on your table and in your budget.
You need to avoid convenience foods such as, snackables for lunches and the such also. Why? Because you can buy the cheese and crackers separately for a lot less. Also you will get many more servings.
Or how about instant oatmeal packages? You can make your own snack bags of instant oatmeal. Add your own spices and fruits. Not only can you make it exactly the way you like it, it will be cheaper and tastier too.
And why pay the high price for boxed macaroni and cheese? It is so much cheaper to buy a bag of dried pasta and make your own cheese sauce. For instance, there is an excellent recipe in our Free Stuff 4 Daily Needs Cookbook.
Learning to make meals and snacks from scratch, will save you money. You will be able to put real food in your budget and on your table. By making things from scratch you are in control over the ingredients. Less chemicals and preservatives, can only improve the nutritional value of your meals. And that will better the health of you and your family.
7. Keep Meals Simple
Another way to put real food on your table is quite simply—keep meals simple.
You do not have to be a Red Seal Chef. Personally, I most enjoy the basics of a well cooked home meal. I love comfort foods. These are the foods that are:
- taste good,
- simple to make,
- and are inexpensive.
An excellent resource to help you keep meals simple is our Free Stuff 4 Daily Needs Cookbook. It is over 200 pages and full of exactly these type of simple, yet tasty meals. Meals that your entire family will easily say, “More please”.
So let’s quickly recap the 7 ways to put real food in your budget.
- Find The Best Grocery Prices
- Keep Track Of What Is In Your Pantry
- Use A Frugal Friday Flyer
- Be Flexible
- Avoid Convenience Foods
- Keep Meals Simple
Even trying to implement 1 or 2 of these ideas into your routine will help to EMPOWER you towards a HOPE and a FUTURE. And better yet, you and your family will start to enjoy more real food on your table.