Last week’s frank and honest discussion answering, “What are Your Monthly Food Costs?” was quite eye opening. I so appreciate everyone sharing, and yet am nearly at a stale mate with how to begin addressing the varying ranges. Reading the comments gives valuable insight, for sure.
One of the first priorities I recommend when asked for advice on lowering food expenses is to discipline oneself to track every single transaction for one month.
I’ve shared before that I am a “Type Z” person, so this task may come naturally for wonderfully, organized Type A people, but for me, it’s daunting, overwhelming, and yet one of the most crucial aspects in really understanding where a large portion of our budgets siphons out each month.
Just like any weight loss program, which requires you to track every thing you eat for a certain amount of time, noting all food expenses during the course of a month is going to revolutionize the way you think about your monthly food costs, and ultimately, how you spend.
For instance, have you ever gathered your evening recipe ingredients together and found that you forgot the sesame oil for your Simple Sesame Chicken, thus running to the store for just a “few things?” Typically, those “few things” get lost when the monthly budget gets calculated. Discipline yourself to Mark it down under groceries.
Did you swing through the drive through tonight when you realized you forgot to start the crock pot? Mark it down under eating out.
Did you buy Gatorades and chips for your guys during their soccer games? Mark it down under snacks.
Some of you are already completely overwhelmed just trying to get dinner on the table, so tracking a month of expenses seems like a lot to ask. Just begin with baby steps. If one month is too much, challenge yourself to one week at a time. If you are serious about lowering your expenses, I encourage you to just start somewhere.
One of my friends shared that when she first began this process, she kept her worksheet in her purse and jotted each transaction down just like she did in her check register. She began examining it, and since she realized she spent more money on fast food during the weekends, she started planning more meals for the weekend to curb that tendency.
It doesn’t have to be complicated. When you are handed your receipt, just jot down the total. Don’t worry about adding it up until later.
Now honestly, for this Type Z leaning gal, that sounds a bit stressful, so I kept a little zipper pouch in my purse and every single time I purchased anything in the food department, I added the receipt to that purse. I didn’t stick it in a pocket or my wallet, it went in the special food pouch. That way, I had them in one spot and could deal with the tracking at a later time.
This may seem tedious, but you will be surprised at the areas in which you spend. You may realize your meat expenses have skyrocketed, and you need to brainstorm creative solutions for making it more manageable. Or maybe the convenience foods that you purchased for the kids’ lunches are 1/4 of your monthly budget, necessitating the need to implement that bulk baking strategy you’ve heard me speak of earlier.
In order to facilitate the ease of this
chore, discipline, privilege, we are providing a FREE Printable, Monthly Food Tracking Worksheets in two different styles. One budgeting worksheet with the weeks separated, and one budgeting tracker where the days are separated. Pick the style that seems easiest for you to implement, and make this tool work for you.
Once you have that food budget in line, you won’t have to continue doing this every month. Some choose to continue it because tracking keeps them accountable, but after awhile, your food budget will be second nature, and may only need a quick overview every month, which is where I am at now.
Where are most of you at in terms of tracking your food budget?
Many of you had a guesstimate of how much you spent each month, but have you ever tracked your food budget in a detailed manner or are you more of a “as long as the money is in the bank we’re good” kind of person?
There’s room for everyone, and all different opinions, since we are all on this journey together.
So what are you cooking up for Tasty Tuesday?
Those that are linking up, please remember these few requests. Due to the large numbers of links, I ask that you not link up more than TWO POSTS in one week, and recent ones are recommended.
Simple Rules for Tasty Tuesday Parade of Foods – As always, please link directly to your recipe post and not your blog URL, so that everyone can find the recipe months from now.
Also, link back here in your post so that everyone can join in the fun, it’s just common courtesy of blog carnivals. Please do not link up a recipe meme that you have started. Thanks for your understanding.