A few years ago, I started researching eating organically. Eating healthy has always been important to me and so once I knew the benefits or organic foods I knew that I wanted to make the switch. At the time we were on a very strict and very small monthly food budget. As part of our frugal living, we did a lot of couponing (and still do) to make sure that we hit our budget goals.
So, thinking about how to set our new food budget was a bit scary. We could cut some things out and tighten down in other areas to make a little more room in our food budget, but we couldn’t expand it too much.
We needed a way to figure out our average food cost per month.
Our current food budget at that point was a set amount and we would just shop sales and coupons and eat whatever we ended up with that way. If we were going to switch to eating organically, we would need to figure out more realistically what foods we would be eating regularly and how much they would be.
I use these budget tracking worksheets to plan my monthly budgets, track what we actually spend and figure out the cost of variable expenses like food for each month accurately.
Figuring out your current food budget is not hard.
The first step for figuring how your average food cost per month is to look at ALL of your food expenses for the last several months. The more data the better. When we assessed our food budget, we looked at 6 months worth of food expenses.
When you are figuring out your average food cost per month, make SURE to include fast food! This means things like Starbucks, too!
You can take the total of your food expenses and divide them by the number of months worth of data you collected. This will give you your current average food cost per month. You MAY be surprised by how much it is once you’ve added in fast food and snack trips! But this should give you what your current food budget amount is.
It can also help, to mark where the expenses in your food budget are coming from. For example, you may have grocery store, fast food and snack from a vending machine or gas station. Knowing where you are spending your food budget can help you later as you assess your budget and food needs.
If you think you need to decrease those expenses, take a look at how to eat cheap while traveling to get some ideas about taking food with you when you are out.
Ok, so now you know what amount of your current budget is going to food. From there you can look at ways to decrease that food budget if you need to free up some room in your budget. Or, for us, we looked at that food budget and figured out how we could fit our new diet desires into that amount. I use these budget tracking worksheets to make sure we are accurately tracking our food (and other expenses) every month.
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