I love food, hate waste, and I’m always interested in enjoyable ways to save money while living life to the fullest. Naturally, I was excited when I heard The Garrett Planning Network was going to launch a food blog featuring low cost recipes, and I wanted to contribute. I wrote a post for them that will be published before too long. In the meantime, I thought I’d share some of the thoughts and savings tips I discovered in the process. I hope you find them tasty…
What Should I Spend On Food?
I’ve had clients ask me what they should budget for food each month. I’ve found that creating a rigid budget isn’t all that effective. I like to encourage people to look at what they are spending and help them make trade offs depending on their other goals. I’m not into arbitrary numbers that may or may not fit your lifestyle. However, sometimes we can’t help but be curious to know what others are spending. This Bureau of Labor Statistics article offers a number of insightful spending breakdowns at various income levels.
The inflated price of food staples can put a dent in our spending without us even knowing it. Inflation on the whole has been low in recent years. However, that is not the case for many foods we regularly purchase. For instance, ground beef has risen 36% in price since 2009, according to this month’s issue of Money Magazine. One way to keep track of the increasing cost of various ingredients is to calculate them at the the recipe level. Additionally, looking for seasonal bargains can save you money on food (and other items as well).
For most of us, it is possible to create meaningful savings from our expenditures on food. Clearly eating at home is a money saver. But there are other ways to make your spending power go farther. The USDA offers this helpful resource. They have hundreds of tips, including healthy food on a budget, money savings habits at the grocery store as well as meal planning.
Consider your food costs in conjunction with other goals. This will help you prioritize spending. Be aware of inflation and the shifting price of certain foods. And finally, make room for additional savings by creatively spending less in order to SaveUp!
This post was written by SaveUp’s personal finance contributing writer, Catherine Hawley, CFP®.