When starting a family times are often tight and expenses seem to never stop. Financial pressures placed on most parents can seem insurmountable especially when children are involved. Unless you're combined incomes is in the six figures most families will need to create a budget for various expenditures such as utilities, gas in the cars and food. Budgeting doesn't have to be a bad thing where everyone sacrifices if it is set up correctly and basic needs are met yet everyone still gets something for them.
When considering a food budget for a family there are a number of different steps which can be taken to minimize costs without feeling like you're relegated to prison food like bread and water. You may already be aware of some ideas such as buying in bulk and using coupons but there are a number of other ideas which you may not have thought of which can also trim food expenses.
If you have a large family one of the better decisions. Become a member a large warehouse club such as Costco or Sam's Club. Costco specifically prices their inventory at 4% above cost. They make their money on volume and not by charging high prices like grocery stores. Sam's Club, to be competitive, probably has a similar pricing strategy to lure customers. Many family staples such as rice, sugar, milk and eggs should be purchased in bulk if possible as the price per ounce will be as low as it will ever get. Obviously, if you have one child it may not be worthwhile to purchase all of your produce and other consumables at a warehouse store but nonperishable items like paper towels and cleaning supplies should be purchased in this fashion.
For food you don't purchase at a warehouse store you should be using price matching as another way to reduce costs and keep within your food related budget for your family. Because of the free market consumers have the opportunity to purchase their food from multiple national grocery chains as well as local farmers markets. In order to grab your business many national grocers will offer price matching on fruits and vegetables as well as milk and eggs. If you stick to the basics when purchasing food for your family then most meats and produce should be able to be purchased at rock-bottom prices keeping your food expenses low.
While not as fun as eating out all the time, hundreds of dollars per month can be saved by eating at home more often. Most families eat out not necessarily because it is a rare pleasure where they get to enjoy food they would normally not eat on a regular basis. It is normally due to laziness and poor planning which obviously costs much more than planning a menu and learning a few recipes. It is even more unnecessary to pay restaurant prices if you're purchasing burgers and fries or tacos. These can easily be made at home for a fraction of the price sometimes saving as much is 75% of what you would spend eating out. Eating at a restaurant should be a once in a while treat and not multiple times per week backup plan.
Clipping coupons is become all the rage recently. There are numerous TV shows and "celebrities " which espouse the benefits and show you how to get organized and save money. Store coupons can be obtained from weekly advertisements or going to various online coupon websites. The problem with coupons is many times they focus on products which are unhealthy for your family or are used to move product which isn't selling very well. Be wary of coupon shows which show families getting $300 worth of food for $57.32 as most of the food they purchase is usually processed or high in fat, salt and sugar.
Food budgeting for a family is actually much more simple than most families are led to believe. There really are only a few key points in order to create a successful food budget. A family food budget requires setting a fixed amount of money per month to spend on food, planning meals that are both healthy and delicious including fresh vegetables, and using coupons and price matching to purchase ingredients for pennies on the dollar. These three steps taken together will allow you to create wonderful meals for your family while keeping food expenses at an absolute minimum. Much like paying down debt or finding time to exercise, the real requirement is dedication and making it a priority in you and your family's life.
Elsewhere on StockMonkeys.com