10 Ways to Get Your Food Costs Under Control

by Laura on May 30, 2017

in Blog, Purchasing, Ten for Tuesday


We’re always looking for a ways to reign in our spending when it comes to food. Purchasing is one of the Family Eats Four Pillars, but is often one that creates a lot of strain on our pocketbook. From time to time, I need to revisit our weekly food costs to determine which adjustments I need to make to ensure I stay within my budget. If your weekly food costs are to high, read on to learn about 10 ways to get your food costs under control.



1. Review your current food costs



Do you even know what you are spending weekly on food? This includes every small trip you make to the grocery to pick up ingredients for dinner, take-out meals or snacks; as well as dinner enjoyed out at a restaurant. If you don’t have a handle on what you spend weekly, this may take a few weeks to figure out. Pay attention to how you eat and where you purchase your meals, then jot it down in a log. What is also helpful is keeping receipts so you can see exactly what you purchased and how much each items costs.

2. Create a weekly food budget




Take the time to review your purchases and decide where you are spending extra money on food. The next step is to decide what a reasonable food budget would be for your family.




3. Stock up on bulk foods



It is time to head into the kitchen to take stock of what you have in your cupboards/pantry. Bulk foods are a great way to save money. By having foods such as grains, legumes, and  nuts on hand, you’ll find it much easier to decide to make meals from scratch.

4. Gather your recipes together



What are your tried and true basic recipes? What are family favorites? And, which are the recipes that you want to try? Gather together recipes for main meals, lunches, snacks and desserts, then decide on how you will store them . . . in a notebook, digitally, or in an old-fashioned recipe box. Having a collection of recipes to choose from gives you inspiration to create meals at home, and will help curb the desire to head out for take-out because you have no idea what to prepare for dinner — a great way to save money!


5. Plan a weekly menu


MenuPlanning450Use your collection of recipes to create a weekly menu. By having an idea of what you are going to prepare, what ingredients you will need, and a general idea of costs involved is a great way to help lower the amount of money you spend each week on food.

When creating your menu, refer back to the weekly budget you have set, and pay attention to potential costs for meals. Meat is usually most expensive, so planning a weekly menu filled with expensive cuts of meat will certainly not keep you within budget. Mix up your weekly menu and pay attention to portions (our next tip).

6. Review Portion Control


This is an essential step to have a handle on, not only for your health, but for your pocketbook. There are many online guides helping with portion size, including this one from WebMD.



Years ago, I didn’t pay attention to portion size. I simply bought 2 steaks, cooked them up, and my husband and I ate whatever was on the plate. Once I began to think about cost, I realized that I was serving up way too much food for myself.

Knowing portion sizes are also helpful in planning how much you will purchase, which leads me to our next tip . . .


7. Create a shopping list 

and shop for only what’s on your list


Don’t stray from this list, and don’t be tempted by something you see on the shelves. Purchasing only what’s on your weekly shopping list will help you stay on budget.


8. Shop only once a week

Quick trips to the market are the fastest way to add to your weekly food costs. Make a deal with yourself and only head to the market if you are desperate for an ingredient to prepare a meal that you have already planned. If you have a well stocked pantry and have armed yourself with a collection of recipes, you should definitely have something to whip up for dinner.


9. Don’t shop hungry


This is a ‘no brainer.’ You already know that you buy more when you’re hungry!




10. Compare stores


Once you get in the habit of shopping with a list, and paying attention to your budget, you’ll be able to easily compare shopping at different stores. Several years ago I did just this, and it was an eye-opener. It truly helped transform they way — and where — I shop.








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