While the average American now only spends about 13.3% of their budgets on food, 42% of that money is spent in restaurants, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Why the change? Many Americans feel like they don’t have time to cook, go to the grocery store, and budget. However, budgeting is an important part of managing the household and, ultimately, being able to buy what you want. People at the Project Food Blog and other budget food websites often challenge their followers to take the $100 challenge, live on $100 dollars per person, per month. For the average 4-person family, that’s $100 when you hit the grocery store each week. This week, try making a weekly grocery list that rings in around $100. You never know what you can achieve until you try!
Creating a $100 Weekly Grocery List
- No Eating Out: It’s time to put down the menu and stop eating out. Consider this an intervention. Try to cut the eating out habit for just one month and see how you do.
- Reduce your Meat Intake: Limit your meat intake and you’ll save big. Why? Meat’s pricey! Instead try to find protein-packed veggies and beans, like black beans, corn, peas, and lentils.
- Stick to Your Grocery List: You have to stick to your grocery list if you ever expect to budget correctly. This means not grabbing that magazine that piques your interest at the counter and deciding against that something extra.
- Homemade snacks: Reduce snacking and eating in between meals. This will help you save big time; all of that snacking adds up. Replace your snack foods, like boxed crackers and granola bars, with cheaper snacks, like homemade crackers, nuts, and fruits.
- Drink water instead of bottled juices, sodas or other sugary/sugar-free drinks. Kool-Aid and other sugary drinks are money wasted on substances with little sustenance. Instead, opt for good ol’ H2O.
- Change your breakfast: Start thinking differently about food and opt for foods that will keep you fuller, longer. Most protein sources keep you much fuller than carbohydrates. This is especially important for breakfast, when most people load up on cereal. Swap cereal for omelets and you’ll be feeling full hours later, and therefore less likely to snack.
- Make sure your coupons are saving you money: Sometimes the coupons provided aren’t exactly for smart items with a lot of longevity. Additionally, coupons tend to be provided for name brand products when you could just buy the store brand and save even more cash than you would using the coupon for the name brand product. Analyze your coupons and make sure that you’re using them for a smart buy.
Just because your eating frugally, doesn’t mean you have to give up good food. You can easily make delicious veggie burgers, bell pepper fritattas, french toast, hummus, crepes, and seared tuna with ginger sauce, even on your budget. All of these dishes are extremely thrifty yet filling and delicious. Next time you’re making a weekly grocery list, try out the $100 challenge. You never know, you could be a lot better at budgeting than you thought.