Food. We all need it to live, but food has also become a very social aspect of our American lives. As a result, food has a very important spot in our household budget.
As you can see below, the majority of our food spending is accounted for in our grocery budget.
We have always lived by the notion that the majority of our meals are eaten at home and we bring our lunch to work. These two simple habits have resulted in healthier meals, leaner budgets and leaner waistlines.
Our budget is constantly changing and growing with the two of us. When I was budgeting for just me, I simply divided food into Restaurants and Groceries. Now that there is two of us, I have found it very important to break out when we eat on our own at a restaurant and when we eat together at a restaurant.
This is important for one main reason, I tend to eat out socially more than my husband. As a result, I have more of my personal budget set aside in Food. Don’t feel too bad for Jay, as he has his own budgets for Bike Maintenance and Triathlons that I do not have. The important thing is that our monthly spending budgets even out in the end.
So how much do we spend on groceries a month?
We typically spend between $400 and $450 on groceries each month. Our grocery budget is very high in October for a few reasons. It was our first month back from our honeymoon, so we spent some time building up our food reserves. October is also when Jay was home studying for his boards. Other months like November and February are lower because one of us was away for work or visiting family.
Our Food Budget is an area that I am always trying to work on. With the increase in food cost, we have taken a few steps to keep our food budget in check for the past few years.
1. We try to buy in season and on sale. While I am not an expert on what produce is in season, I have learned that produce in season is also usually on sale. This method also helps vary our diet a little. Apples become a staple fruit in the fall, oranges take over the lunch box in the winter and berries prevail each summer.
2. If it’s cooked or blended, buy it frozen. Frozen produce has come a very long way in the past few years and can even be more healthful than fresh produce sold in grocery stores. If I am cooking it (or blending it in a smoothie) I buy it frozen. Some of our fast and easy meals are packed with frozen vegetables and nutrition. My favorites are the Asian Tofu Stir Fry and Beth’s Four Ingredient Tempeh Taco’s.
3. We eat vegetarian at home. I addressed this last year, but the main reasons we switched to a mostly vegetarian diet is because we found that meat was expensive, took longer to prepare and we felt better without it. We also LOVE beans and last time I checked a can of beans are only 89 cents a can.
4. We eat leftovers. It is really hard and can be more expensive to cook for one or two. Therefore we usually cook for four (or six) and eat the leftovers for lunch and dinner throughout the week. I’ll be honest, this took some portion control. To prevent ourselves from over-indulging we now portion out the entire dish before we sit down for dinner. This way we can not get up for a second helping.
5. We cut back on alcohol. I love that I can buy beer and wine in the grocery store in Virginia, consequently I also hate it. When we returned from New Zealand, we found ourselves buying more and more alcohol and our grocery bill reflected it (note: see October). Now we don’t keep as much alcohol in the house, buy it less often and enjoy it more on social occasions.
I am hoping to do another grocery shopping challenge in April (has it really been 2 years since my last one?).
How much do you spend on groceries each month? How do you keep your grocery budget in check?