The cost of food seems to be ever increasing and week by week we are spending more and more on our food shop. It would be great to set a budget of £20 per week and be done with it, but it doesn't work out like that. Knowing how to set a realistic budget will enable you to ensure that you're sticking to it. A budget doesn't necessarily have to be limiting – what works for one household may not work for another.
1. How many are you feeding?
This should go without saying, but the more people you're feeding, the bigger your budget should be. Remember to factor in guests (from popping in for a cup of tea to weekend visitors) and very importantly, your pets!
2. How many meals will be eaten?
Depending on your eating habits this may vary. Don't forget to factor in snacks – if you deprive yourself of these when doing your ‘main shop', it'll only lead to you over spending on a top up shop during the week – probably costing you more than it would have done in the first place. Do you take a packed lunch to work, or do you prefer to purchase it daily?
3. Be realistic
If there are some branded items (or not even branded items) that you simply cannot live without (diet coke cans in my case), then again, depriving yourself of these will lead to you overspending on getting them at a later date. If you like to drink then you'll realise that your budget will need to increase to allow for this.
4. Meal plan
Once you've accounted for the number of people you're feeding, and the number of meals and snacks required, you can create a meal plan.
5. Shopping list
From your meal planner, after visiting your fridge, freezer and cupboards, you should be able to come up with a shopping list.
6. Are you covering toiletries and household cleaning in your budget?
If you are, then your budget will need to increase accordingly to cover these spends.
Armed with all this knowledge, you should be able to put together a realistic budget. You can visit mysupermarket and enter your shopping list to see what the different supermarkets are charging. There isn't a right or wrong food budget – when Tony and I first moved in together, we found that we were consistently spending over £60 a week, but this was to cover the necessary store cupboard items, toiletries and household cleaners. Now we can spend anything from £15-£70 a week depending on what we already have in the house, how many items we've managed to find reduced and our freezer limitations.
I'll be posting another blog post soon about how to save money with your food shopping.