Your grocery bill can add up fast. From dinner entrée’s to snack items, the amount you spend makes a difference in your budget. When you think about the total amount you spend on food, don’t forget what you spend at restaurants. According to the U.S. department of Agriculture, Americans spend on average, 11% of their take-home income on food. It doesn’t all goes toward groceries, though. Approximately 6% is spent on groceries, while 5% is spent on dining out—including dates, lunches with coworkers, and Sunday brunch.
With this framework in mind, you can calculate your total food budget based on your take-home income. For example, Bob makes $3,500 per month after taxes. To budget 6% for groceries, he’d spend $210/ for dining out at 5%, he should set aside $175. In total, he’ll need $385 for food each month. If he finds himself not having enough for meals with this amount, it’s likely he’s spending too much on food. He can either reduce his grocery bills or scale back eating out.
Here are two ways to cut back on what you spend without sacrificing the quality and taste of your food and what you like to eat.
- Plan a Weekly Menu Ahead of Time
- When shopping plan ahead and use coupons, either clipping them out of newspapers, magazines, or using your mobile phone for more coupon options at your finger tips.
When you have a food budget that works for you, you’ll feel more confident and in control of your finances. With a set amount for groceries (and dining out), you’ll have a solid vision for your month. If you need help, the USDA publishes a monthly food plan suggesting how much your groceries should be. Check out: www.fns.usda.gov.