Learning To Budget? - VeggieBoards
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#1 Old 06-28-2010, 06:15 AM
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I know this is talked about until blue in the face... but I wanted to ask anyway.



What is your grocery budget per week?

How many people in your household?

How often do you go grocery shopping?

Does your groceries budget include going out to eat/take out?

When do you plan out the meals? (can you show me an example? THAT WOULD BE SUPER!!!!)



I recently moved in with the boyfriend and we are sort of "feeling things out" financially wise. We decided on a budget of 35$/week because he remembers his mother would feed a family of 5 on 100$ a week. She planned meals and used recipes and made lists.



My family was different.... we ate what we wanted and we always had food available, cooked for ourselves when we were hungry or bored. Sometimes- I'm embarassed to say- food even had to be thrown out because it rotted. My house was a house of abundance, as was indicative of the waistlines as well....



Because of my experience I am not sure how to do this meal planning/making of a list? I usually look in the fridge and see what I am in the mood for at meal time and whip something up, but the fridge wont have anything if its not on the list.... (at least I am good at that part! not on the list-- its not coming home!)



help!
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#2 Old 06-28-2010, 07:25 AM
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First I should say that I actually enjoy budgeting and then checking each month to make sure I stayed within it and then making adjustments!



That said, our budget seems to get tighter and tighter lately. Food prices have definitely gone up though. I'm buying basically the same foods but I've seen about a 50% increase in the cost over the past few years.



There are 3 people in our household - two adults and one child. My husband is a cyclist though and averages 7000 calories a day so I think he should count for at least 2 people! Also he insists on a few items that only he eats (such as pop and milk). That said, my weekly budget is $75. We do not eat out ever. I go shopping once a week. I buy mostly organic.



On Sunday I look at the grocery ads. If any produce is a really good deal, I'll plan meals around that. If not, then I just go through my list of recipes and select 5-6 to make for the week. Leftovers make up for the remaining 1-2 days. I have menu planning down pretty well now but when I first started I came up with a summer menu and winter menu. Both were for 4 weeks and I just kept rotating them. I started by placing several pasta days, breakfast for dinner days, and bean patty days (varying the actual recipes for each). Then filled in the remaining days with other meals that we enjoy. I would also plan for side dishes and a few desserts. You'll want to place the meals that have fresh produce closer to shopping day and things like chili towards the end of the week. I followed these same menus for several years. It worked wonders for grocery budgeting and not wasting food. Before starting this I remember saying that I felt like I was buying produce for our compost pile because so much went straight there. Also, at the time my husband and I both worked long hours and my daughter was young so it was nice to come home from work and not have to think about what to cook and worry that I didn't have all the ingredients.



Menu planning really is worth the effort. You'll see immediate results. I'd start there, see how much groceries cost you for just the meals planned (although don't forget about breakfast and lunch foods as well) and then adjust you budget and/or menus from there. You'll also want to pay attention to what food you have left over like one stalk of broccoli or half a can of pinto beans and make sure you adjust your menu to use those up in another recipe next time. It takes a few weeks but it gets easier.



Good luck!
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#3 Old 06-28-2010, 06:34 PM
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Warning, this will be a long post



I read tons of books on budgeting and none of them really clicked with me until I read this one book called 'I Can Teach you to be Rich' written by this popular financial blogger. He said all those books that say never buy a latte or never do this or that are nonsense, it's all about percentages. He gives percentages for what you should spend on: fixed expenses, savings, investments and guilt-free. Just plug your income amount in and it will tell you what to spend on each category.



For example, let's say you earn $2000 a month in take-home pay. Your percentages may look like this:



65% for fixed expenses ($1300)

10% for savings/emergencies ($200)

10% for retirement/investing ($200)

15% for guilt-free fun ($300)



You can tweak it a little if need be. For example I personally have minimal fixed expenses right now since I am lacking a car, a house, a dog or a baby (but YMMV on those) so I do not spend 65% on fixed expenses and have bumped the savings and investing categories up a little. I also have some variable income every month that I have not tossed into the budget because it ranges from $100-500 depending on how many extra hours I put in (I tutor and babysit on the side). So I lump that into 'guilt-free' and use it for longer-term goals like saving for a vacation.



Let's look at that fixed expenses category now. Personally, my preference is to budget for essential groceries in this category and use the guilt-free money for going out with friends. So, how much do I have for that? What you do is you start with your total amount ($1300 in this example) and see what's left after you have deducted. So, to use my own situation as an example, this is (roughly) my fixed expense budget per month:



Rent ($915 including renter's insurance)

Bus pass ($121)

Cell Phone ($35)

Internet ($25)

Bank Fees ($10 and I get unlimited transactions for that)



So, that leaves me with about $300 for food, drug store and other miscellaneous necessities. Most months, I don't spend nearly that; I typically spend about $50 a week on food, but I live in an expensive city and my neighbourhood stores are on the pricier side unless I travel (where I would eat up any savings in needing to have a car). When I lived way downtown in a more slummy neighbourhood, there were some cheaper options



Personally, I feel it is better to budget more and then not use it all. I love the system from this book because it doesn't matter how much money you make, it will still work. If you make more money, you'll just have more to spend in each category. If you make less money, your contributions for things like retirement savings will be comparatively less but will be the same proportion of your income relative to someone earning more.



As far as grocery planning goes, I am extremely lazy cook, so what I typically do is this:



I shop twice a week. On every shopping trip, I replenish whatever staples I always keep on hand (soy milk, brown rice, frozen fruit for smoothies, rice noodles, peanut butter, trail mix ingredients, canned beans and tomatoes etc.) and buy ingredients for ONE proper recipe which I choose before my shopping trip. Then:



1) I will cook that recipe and eat it for two meals. Usually, I will freeze part (or the components of it) for a make-my-own frozen dinner (for example, the other day I made a recipe that served two and involved half a can of pea soup used as a stir-fry sauce; I did not freeze a ready-made because it involved noodles, but I froze the rest of the soup and if I want to make the meal again I just need to thaw the soup and add tofu, broccoli and cooked noodles and I could have the meal again in about five minutes)



2) For the other meals, I will either eat something from my freezer stash (for example, I have that stir-fry ready to go by using the reserved soup in the freezer) or I will make something that is readily on hand with pantry ingredients, like noodle soup or a salad or something. Sometimes, I will buy a convenience item but this is rare because I have food allergies and feel really awful if I accidentally eat something I shouldn't
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#4 Old 06-28-2010, 07:50 PM
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My grocery budget is 50 bucks per week....



I buy lots of dried beans, whole wheat pasta, canned and frozen veggies, etc...



I feel like I eat so healthy but so cheap too.
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#5 Old 06-29-2010, 06:12 AM
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WOW thanks so much for all the advice!



I think that you're right Dana in IN I will have to figure out a menu and then that will help with chosing the groceries. We have some staples like produce, chips and salsa, bread for sandwiches. So those are basically on the this every week (produce) and every other week, respectively. We ended up at 40$ this week, but I am already running low on fruits poor planning. How do you keep track of what youre spending and when you need to adjust?



Do you plan lunch menus too? I usually make us something left over-y for lunch with some fruit and snack supplements. Breakfast again is pantry staples like oatmeal and fruit (are ya seeing the trend? fruit! yeaaaa fruit!) So I figure those are a gimme and the main plan is dinner?



ficbot- I love that guy's idea and thanks SO much for all the work you put into describing the plan and responding. The only issue is that I just went back to school so I just lost my income. But i did plan on having a set amount for the year, so I can budget that out and use the precentages from that.



Looks like I'll be doing alot of math! FUN! (seriously.... actually)





In conclusion... its sounding like 35$/week might be a little low, but I think we will try it, and if it works out that I need more then we will. I did decide I was going to buy a watermelon from one of those roadside farmers later this week.
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#6 Old 07-04-2010, 03:47 AM
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To keep track of what you're spending and when you need to adjust, I'd say simply keep your receipts. If you run out of food midweek and buy something new, add that receipt to the other one. Before you go for your next grocery trip, take a look at them. See anything that got wasted? What did you run out of? What was unnecessary? Etc, etc. That way you can rework how much you buy of everything before you go.
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#7 Old 07-04-2010, 08:37 PM
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What I do to keep track of spending is, I have a spreadsheet. I have put some work into it so I can just plug in my income number and it tells me what I should be spending in each category. And then I have my categories along the top in columns so that I can put in an amount when I spend it and it will deduct from the total. For example, every time I buy groceries, I put it in the groceries row and it deducts from my total so I know how much is left.
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#8 Old 07-04-2010, 09:52 PM
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What is your grocery budget per week?



We don't have a set budget every week, only on weeks that we know we will be short. Usually we end up spending around 30-40 dollars on grocery store food.



How many people in your household?

Technically, 2 adults (me and my husband). But we live with a roommate, so often times the line is blurred, because we'll eat some of his food or he'll eat some of ours. Mostly staples, like milk and condiments and cereal.



How often do you go grocery shopping?

Once or twice a week. I like to get everything on the first swipe, but if I need something else for a recipe I might walk to the store to pick up one item. If that's the case I try to swing by on my way home from work or walk so I'm not using gas needlessly.



Does your groceries budget include going out to eat/take out?

No, but it should. That's one of our weaknesses, though since I've gone vegetarian I've found that eating out is much less pleasurable, since there are fewer choices for me.



When do you plan out the meals?

Whenever the fliers come out. Cub and Rainbow send their new fliers out on Sunday or Monday usually, but since this was a holiday weekend it all has been a little off. I have enough frozen stuff, though, and we made a snack run for the World Cup games on Saturday, so I've got some veggies to eat. Usually I just make a chart in a notebook that I have dedicated to menu planning, putting three categories at the top: Lunch, Dinner, and Breakfast/Snacks. Since I usually eat breakfast on the go, I don't usually plan that out, I just make it a point to have english muffins and peanut butter and fruit in the house, as well as oatmeal and eggs for days that I can afford to take the extra time. I usually plan my meals around whatever's on sale in the flier, or a few new recipes that I want to try. Sometimes I get lazy and end up just eating leftovers for a few days!
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#9 Old 07-05-2010, 06:05 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Clarita Osita' date='04 July 2010 - 04:47 AM' timestamp='1278236872' post='2668586 View Post


To keep track of what you're spending and when you need to adjust, I'd say simply keep your receipts. If you run out of food midweek and buy something new, add that receipt to the other one. Before you go for your next grocery trip, take a look at them. See anything that got wasted? What did you run out of? What was unnecessary? Etc, etc. That way you can rework how much you buy of everything before you go.



I did that this weekend Made a whole notebook dedicated to groceries. My plan is for the first month, track it and then average out the amt spent per week and see what we used. Hopefully this works.... I spent over 20 on just fruits and veggies though? Then there is his foods... milk, meat, cereal, etc....



I feel like 20$ per person per week, esp if we dont buy extra food or go out, is totally reasonable?
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#10 Old 07-05-2010, 06:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hannah&me' date='05 July 2010 - 09:05 PM' timestamp='1278331521' post='2669117 View Post


I did that this weekend Made a whole notebook dedicated to groceries. My plan is for the first month, track it and then average out the amt spent per week and see what we used. Hopefully this works.... I spent over 20 on just fruits and veggies though? Then there is his foods... milk, meat, cereal, etc....



I feel like 20$ per person per week, esp if we dont buy extra food or go out, is totally reasonable?

It could be reasonable, depending on how much food costs where you live, what sales you have access to, etc. In the west $20 a week is tough to do, but not impossible.
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#11 Old 07-06-2010, 04:09 AM
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I save money and time by freezing leftovers. I usually eat from the freezer once a week and leftovers from the week once a week. Besides saving $ it also prevents waste. I really hate throwing out food when I know people in the world are starving, you know?
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