Monthly Food Budget for 1

You know what to expect every month when you pay your rent. No matter what, you’ll have to pay the exact same amount month after month. Some of your monthly expenses really are that consistent, and you can anticipate your spending well in advance. However other expenses, such as your groceries, aren’t so easy to anticipate. From one trip to another, your total can change significantly.

Setting a monthly food budget for yourself can help you keep your spending in line. By doing this, you’ll have a better idea of what to expect month by month when it comes to your expenses. First, let’s determine how much money you have to work with for your monthly food budget:

Evaluate Your Monthly Income

The best way to start is to evaluate your monthly income as a whole. Take away the amount you spend on rent, car payments, or any other recurring payments throughout the month. Once you’ve removed all your anticipated monthly payments, you’re looking at your overall budget for the month.

From here, you might want to determine any other monthly spending you are planning on. This can include a big item you’re planning on purchasing, gas money, or what you’d like to put away for your savings. Know that this can change on a monthly basis, depending on your plans. You can easily reevaluate monthly if needed.

After you’ve removed any major purchases from your monthly budget, you can start to determine how much you are looking to spend on food.

Determining Your Budget

Now that you have a good idea of what you can spend month by month, you should next take a look at your spending habits when it comes to food. You can easily track your spending by looking through your purchases on your mobile banking app. Try to add up how much money you spent on food over the last month to gauge your current spending habits.

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has outlined spending budgets for individual monthly food budgets. They’ve broken these budgets down into four categories: Thrifty, Low-Cost, Moderate-Cost, and Liberal. For the average adult, the Thrifty plan budgets around $180 for the average adult. The Low-Cost plan budgets an average of $235 and the Moderate-Cost around $280 a month. Finally, the Liberal plan budgets an average of $350 per month. This varies by gender and age, but widely, these are the average monthly spending estimates for an individual’s food budget.

After you’ve reviewed your monthly food spending habits, compare them to the budgets from the USDA. Can you identify which plan you are closest to? When reviewing your personal spending, do you tend to spend more money at the grocery store, or ordering takeout? You will want to get a full picture of where you spend your food budget over the course of a month.

According to the USDA, the average American spends around 10% of their income on food a month. Looking at your overall monthly income and your food spending, do you spend more, less, or around the same amount on average? If you find yourself spending significantly more, or significantly less, try to use the USDA budget plans to determine an average spending goal you are comfortable with that also meets the needs of your income.

Tips & Tricks for Food Budgeting

Now that you’ve got an estimate on home much you should be spending monthly on your groceries and food, you can start to look into your spending habits even further and find ways to save money on food and maximize the use of your budget. These tips and tricks can be helpful to keep in mind as you try to stick to your monthly food budget:

  1. Plan Meals Ahead

Planning your meals ahead of time will help you determine what to buy at the grocery store, and keep you from getting overwhelmed. By identifying what you need before you step foot in the store, you’re more likely to reduce the number of trips you take to the store from forgetting important items. You can also plan out which nights of the week you want to order takeout so you can be more intentional with your spending, rather than defaulting to takeout when you don’t have a plan for meals.

  1. Be Careful With Perishables

Have you ever bought a bag of spinach at the store, and it seemed to have spoiled the very next day? It’s frustrating when it happens, but it’s even more frustrating when it happens over and over again. When shopping, be more strategic about buying perishables and opt for canned or frozen food wherever it makes sense. If you like to make green smoothies throughout the week, for example, opt for frozen fruits and vegetables over fresh. This will help you extend the life of your purchases and avoid wasting money on items that spoil quickly.

  1. Spice It Up

Buying items in bulk can help you save a lot of money throughout the month, but many tend to avoid this for fear of boring and repetitive meals. Instead of buying a bunch of different items for every night of the week, instead invest in quality spices, sauces, and other flavor-enhancers to freshen up your weekly menu without exceeding your budget. You can turn a plain chicken, rice, and vegetable dish into something far more exciting by using spices and sauces to your advantage. Try searching online for different flavor profiles to experiment with that will have you looking forward to meals.

By taking a deeper look into your monthly spending and setting a tentative budget, you can control your food spending and take a better hold of your finances overall. It’s easy to go overboard when buying food throughout the month, but planning ahead and establishing a budget to follow can greatly reduce the amount of unnecessary money you spend. Becoming more aware of your food spending habits and sticking to a budget will significantly impact your overall spending, and help you to save more in the long run.

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