It’s Friday and time for another Frugal Food post. Today I want to talk about budgets. When you are watching what you are spending it’s important to have a budget you can stick to, not just for food but for everything you pay for in life. It will let you know how much you can afford, give you a realistic idea of what you are spending and help keep your spending on track. It’s easier to cut back on spending when you know just how much you are REALLY spending and how much you can afford to spend. 

Everyone’s budget is different, especially when it comes to buying food. How many people are in your house? How much of your diet is made up of local and organic foods? How often do you eat out? All this and more impacts your food budget. 

Personally I budget about $150 every two weeks for my family of 2.5 – I say 2.5 because I have a 7-year-old step daughter who lives with us every other week. So sometimes I’m cooking for 3 and sometimes it’s just hubby and me. 

Here is how my budget broke down over the last two weeks:$71 – Local and/or organic food such as meats from Aubrey’s, fish from Whalesbone and veg from the Byward Market.

$92 – Non local or organic foods such as flour, sugar, rice, milk, international cheese, cereal, hummus and various other veggies. 

For a grand total of $163. Ok… a little over budget. But it was my first go at it. I’m determined to do better next week! 

Not too bad – but there are still some products that I’d like to buy more organic or local… which means they are going to cost a bit more. This means I’m going to have to find other areas to pinch to make that money appear! I’ll give you an update in 2 weeks and let you know how I did. 

Until then here are some helpful tips to stretch your budget and food dollars:- Write down everything you spend. You’d be surprised how quickly you can over spend but by knowing exactly how much money you have left you are less likely to blow it 

– Be realistic about what you buy with your food budget. Mine includes pet food, cleaners (or the ingredients to make your own) and supplies like toilet paper, shampoo, deodorant etc. Make sure you account for this when setting aside money. 

– Put aside $10 every week and use it to stock up necessities that are on sale. It can really blow your budget if on the same week you run out of cat food, paper towel, laundry detergent and shampoo. Use the $10 each budget cycle to stock up so that you have at least one back up of items like these. Then when you run out, you won’t have to rush to replace them. It also gives you a buffer to stock up on things that are a really great deal – when your favorite olive oil goes on sale now you can get 2 without crashing your budget 

– Decide on a manageable food budget. $50 a week for a family of 4 isn’t going to fly. Trying to stick to that is impossible. Especially when you are trying to eat a diet mostly of local and organic foods. 

– Make sure you take an inventory before shopping. Do you have enough sugar, flour etc to make the items you are planning on from scratch or should you pick some up? Running to the store multiple times kills your budget because it’s so rare that you go in and only pick up the one or two things you need. Also, having 3 bags of sugar isn’t necessary. 

– Plan your meals ahead of time… or at least have a vague idea of what you want / need to make for the coming budget cycle so you can be sure to buy what you need. The more organized you are the more likely it is that you will not waste anything you buy.