Creating a food budget can be difficult, especially if you don't know what is considered "normal." How much should one person spend on food? Knowing what the average consumer spends on groceries will help you develop your own personalised budget. Creating a workable and realistic financial plan can ensure that you keep the cost of your meals under control.
Statistics for American Food Budgets
The United State Department of Agriculture Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion offers detailed numbers regarding consumer spending on food. Their statistics are broken down month by month. Each chart lets you see how much an individual should be spending depending on age and gender. Find the description that fits you (for example, "Female, 19-50 years") to see four different budgets, both weekly and monthly.
Types of Food Budgets
Each chart details four levels of food budgets: thrifty, low-cost, moderate-cost, and liberal. You can calculate how much you should be spending for each level on a weekly or a monthly basis. Since the costs listed for June are used as the annual average, looking at those numbers will give you a useful gauge when making your budget. For example, in June 2009 the grocery spending statistics for a male in the 19-50 age bracket ranged from £25.2 (on the thrifty plan) to £49.9 (on the liberal plan) per week.
Considerations for Grocery Budgets
The numbers given by the USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion are based on all meals, including snacks, being prepared at home. If you include dining out as part of your food budget, adjust the numbers upward. Other important considerations for creating your personal budget include any specific dietary needs you have. Budgeting tools help consumers know where to skimp and food is worth paying more.
Creating Food Budgets
Track your food spending for a month. Count everything, including your morning latte, lunches eaten with co-workers, and the pizza you had delivered when you were too tired to cook. This will give you a pretty good idea of what you are spending now. Once you have gathered a month's worth of expenses, you will see where you can cut the budget, such as eating out less often, or where you might want to spend more money, such as deciding to buy organic products.
Budget Planner Helps Cut Costs
Once you have a target budget, start looking for ways to control food costs. Use a website like BetterBudgeting.com for ideas. Coupons are an obvious answer. CouponMom.com gives a tutorial on how to get started. However, many people don't want the hassle of clipping coupons. Instead, shop the sales at your local stores. If there is a good deal on something you eat all the time, stock up. Go to your local farmers' market for fresh produce; it is often cheaper than at the supermarket. If you want the best prices, shop at the end of the day. Once you know exactly how much you are spending each month, you can always find creative ways to cut costs.