Leaving $$$ on the Table Getting the Most Out of Your Food Budget

On the LRPN radio show, they call me “Ms. Practical”. That’s because, while theories and principles are great, I’m always ready to cut to the chase and get down to applications. It’s all well and good to know that we ought to live on less than we make, but how do we do that? Where can we practically cut corners and save a few dollars?

According to a study done by Visual Economics, one of the biggest expenses in an American household, is FOOD! Our grocery bills are second only to housing-related expenses (rent/mortgage, gas, electricity, etc.) and what’s the government already takes out of our paychecks (by way of social security, pensions, and taxes, etc.). We are literally leaving money on the table by our eating and cooking habits and poor grocery budgets.

According to the latest Gallup poll, the average American household spends over $150 per week on food. Of course there are many variables involved. Young adults typically spend more according to polls, as their food budget also includes a higher rate of “eating out”. Those with young children at home reportedly spent about $80 more than the average.  Those in the Midwest had slightly lower weekly spending that those in coastal communities.

If you are like most Americans, you’ve noticed that your food budget does not go as far as it used to. You may find that you are spending more and more. Your food budget is overflowing its boundaries and yet your cupboards and refrigerator are not overflowing. So, how can we reign in exorbitant food spending? The key is analysis and preparation.

Analyzing Your Food Budget

To understand your food spending habits you have to break your spending into categories. What are you spending on meats? What are you spending on beverages? If you notice that most of your budget is going to a particular category, for example meats, that’s the are you must focus on adjusting first. Maybe you need to do Meatless Mondays. Or perhaps if you find that you are spending a significant amount of money on pre-packaged or prepared foods, then it’s time to start packaging and freezing your own easy meals.

Preparing to Maximize Your Food Budget

Studies estimate that you can save 2.65 per serving through “freezer cooking”.  By cooking large batches of food and freezing extra servings, you save on ingredient costs per serving. You also save yourself time later on when you get meal after meal from that initiate batch. You give yourself the convenience of “defrost and go” without the additional cost of those store-bought freezer meals.

Get Started on Saving Today!

Lastly, to get started on saving your money (and time) in the category of food expenses, I highly recommend the book Seriously Good Freezer Meals by Karrie Truman (Freezer Meal Recipes). You can begin saving today, and the extra cash that you keep you can then divert to funding your dream, developing multiple streams of income, or responsibly –paying down your debts. For more info on the other pillars of LRPN, be sure to check out our New to LRPN/Starters page (New? Start here.).

Adrienne Isaacs