Saving: Food is the most variable of all costs

People often struggle with budgets and end up going over. There are a lot of bills we cannot control such as utilities and mortgage but a few we can. The ones we control are the easiest make changes in to stay in our budget. Food is the most varied of our costs and is the easiest to control.

I struggled for a long time with my food budget because you can spend nothing one day and a lot the next. It was very hard for me to pin down. I was trying to stay within a daily amount of spending and that simply does not work. One nice(r) dinner out and you blew 3 days worth of food money. My solution: Have a monthly amount and subtract from it.

My solution was not 100% perfect. I could forget to subtract something or simply get lazy. Today I combat this by using any coupons I can to save money and keep an eye out for specials at both the grocery store and at restaurants. A LOT of restaurants are offer great deals, coupons, free food, and other promotions just to get people to come. I use a lot of buy one get one meal coupons and saved hundreds.

I also try to plan meals somewhat. If I know that I am going to dinner with friends this week I subtract an appropriate amount from my budget. I also have a schedule of places that I go to lunch each week so I can estimate that too. I leave some of it as discretionary so I don't feel restrained to what I can eat and where. I think this is a good mix that keeps eating interesting. All of this combined keeps me within budget more or less. Give it a try!