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Yesterday I mentioned in our monthly review that we really went over our food budget for the month. 

We use Mint to track our accounts and for January here was the total for food-related expenses -> $767.17.

As I was writing the review and looking at the numbers, I knew I'd have to cover how this happened.

When I told my husband how much it was, he seemed surprised as well.

I started by looking at all of the transactions with Mint since it pulls the data from all of our accounts. 

I'm happy to say a few of the charges were mislabeled, meaning our expenses were just a tad lower. However, we still had a big food bill balance.

Eating Out – Fast & Furious Edition

We did go out quite a bit with our friends and family last month. The dinners themselves weren't expensive; we just went out frequently and treat some of our loved a few times.

Taking someone out for dinner is fun for us, so we continue doing that, but not so close together. Perhaps we can try and schedule these meals as special events once or twice a month.

Our focus for February will be preparing meals and friends over – we've gotten a few more recipes under our belt that we'd like to try out with a small group.

Groceries- Failing to Plan Meant Planning to Fail (Budget-wise)

We made quite a few trips  (8 total) for groceries this month. The total for grocery shopping last month's grocery run came out to $454.55.

Most of the trips were to the Food Lion right around the corner, where I grabbed items as needed (plus a bit since I already there….). We did picked up some staples that we needed, but more often than not I didn't bring a grocery list.

The Costco trip was during the last weekend when we had a dear friend and several members of our family over to hang with us and see our baby girl. Instead of going out, we decided to eat in and have a family cook out dinner (good idea!). We grabbed food for the dinner plus a bit (bad idea!) That one trip set us back $158.80.

I think the lesson learned for us is to create a shopping list for all of our trips. Spur of the moment shopping lead to bloated buys and it upped our grocery bills quite a bit.

Thoughts on Your Family's Food Budget

I'd like to hear about your family's food budget and how you keep it under control. How did you do with your food spending last month? Did you stay within the budget or did you go over? What's your family's average for groceries each month? How much do you spend on eating out?

Photo Credit: Johnragai

About Elle Martinez

Elle Martinez helps families at Couple Money achieve financial freedom by sharing tips for reducing debt, increase income, and building net worth. Learn how to live on one income and have fun with the second..

14 comments add your comment

  1. $767 doesn’t really sound that bad… Especially if you eat out from time to time..
    How many people are in your family?.. Just you and your husband?

    We have been battling the grocery budget for months now and are just now starting to make some headway by using coupons and sticking to our shopping list when we visit the store.

    • Thanks SDR! It’s the two of us and our baby girl. We have to get a grocery list ready before we make trips to cut back on needless expenses.

  2. Groceries go on the credit card, we have an earmark fund for Costco, and our eating out comes out of our ‘general’ spending. All together, though it’s probably around $500-550 for the month.

  3. I usually try to get the food spending at the store to 50/week, and i’m usually pretty good. I make a lot so we have lots of left overs, and we dont go out that often.

    • I do have to get back to making some crockpot dishes – they tend to last for a few meals which would save us time and money.

  4. When we lived in the U.S., we spent $90/week on groceries for a family of three. We live in Australia and food is definitely pricier here – our weekly budget is $170. (Ouch!)

    We’re working on a debt snowball now, so we rarely go out to eat. I can’t remember the last time we ate in a restaurant, but we have gotten fish and chips ($25 for the whole family). Eating out (and inviting others to eat in) can really add up though!

  5. We cut our food budget (Husband, Wife and Toddler) to just about $250 a month. It seemed impossible at first, but we started meal planning a month in advance. One trip to Costco at the beginning of the month and two small trips to the local grocery store for perishables and we’re set.

  6. We rarely eat out. Family of 5 at home plus college kid. I budget $500 for food, $50 for an organic CSA membership, $50 for nonfood items (cleaning, paper goods, personal care items). Pet supplies are tallied separately. If you seriously want to reign in your spending, here are some suggestions:
    -eat at home. You can easily make a pizza, a pasta dish, grill some chicken and add a salad and bread on the cheap.
    -make as much as possible yourself. Cut up lettuce (no bag salads), peel and cut produce (or buy plain fzn or canned varieties), buy a beef roast and cut into strips for stir fry, cubes for stew, grind some for meatloaf/meatballs/burgers; learn to debone a whole chicken
    -reduce your meat consumption and use beans, tofu, etc instead or to supplement
    -get a bread machine (try a thrift shop)
    -get a crockpot (thrift store)
    -don’t buy Deli meat (get BSCB/turkey breasts, etc. and broil/bake/grill for sandwiches)
    -eat homemade soup once/week for supper
    -avoid all convenience foods, or make your own versions. I mix salt free taco seasoning for pennies using ingredients on hand.
    -get a coffee pot (no D & D or starbucks)
    -make planned ahead meals for the freezer and store in meal sized amounts to grab and go on busy days
    -start a stockpile, use the pantry principal
    -get a freezer
    -learn to garden to shop farmer’s markets, belong to a CSA
    -all food eaten away from home is from home (bfst coffee, lunch at work/school)
    -make all beverages at home (iced tea, fruit juices from concentrate, etc)
    -use a refillable water container, take with you in the car, and add a light snack to avoid take out windows
    -do all your own baking-even if you turn to mixes, it is cheaper than prepared items. I keep $1.25 boxes of Pillsbury angel food mix in the pantry. Add water and bake-great cake, top with fruit for a light, simple dessert with yoyurt or whipped cream.. Stores here get $4 for the same cake.
    -start a price book (food lion is expensive)
    -seek alternative sources: dry goods at Dollar General can be bargains, farms, healthfood shops, etc
    -look for bakery thrift shops, marked down meats/produce/dry goods at your stores (Kroger is great for this!)
    -dinner menus. When I first married, I did one week at a time, then 2, finally being encouraged to move to monthly a few years ago, I haven’t turned back. A real $ saver

    Due to finances, we are currently eating down my stockpiles (cellar shelves, pantry, chest freezer). I only spent $225 on groceries last month.

    See my blog for other ideas. HTH

  7. We spend more on food than I’d like because we try to buy organic, etc. We’re told organic leads to better health, but who knows really. However, the other day I bought some organic rice milk and forgot about it and it still smells fresh! I don’t know who to trust. If you want insurance your food is chemical free, you have to make most things from scratch.