Making a Food Budget
June 20, 2008
Posted by: Y
In the beginning of college, I was notorious for using all my money on food (and clothes, of course). My parents gave me $900 a month for living expenses/eating (not including rent, which they paid as well). Needless to say, I was spoiled, but my parents did that because they knew I wouldn’t be able to survive by cooking on my own in NYC. Shamefully, I still found myself short on cash at the end of the month, and lived on ramen for a week (that sounds funny to me thinking about it now, but it was definitely not funny for me then)! I think back and really regret not having saved a majority of the money; I would probably have a lot of money in savings by now.
I am still working through changing my ways. A couple years ago, I created a personal P&L sheet in Excel so that I would know when I was going to have money coming in and out. This solved the problem of starving the last week of the month. However, I made it so that I could see how much money I had left over (not really tracking how much I spent) and ended up spending all the extra money on clothes and expensive meals. Now that I have to pay for everything on my own (rent taking a big chunk of my paycheck), I really need to make strict guidelines for myself and track my spending. I don’t just want to skim by, I want to put away a substantial amount of money in savings.
Recently, I created a food budget sheet in excel. I used to spend an average of 25-30 dollars a day on food in college. A day!! Now, since I cook more often and only eat out on occasion, I use alot less money. I am slowly weaning myself to using less and less on food, so I haven’t really set a end goal for a food budget. So at the beginning of the week, I’ll take a quick inventory of what I have in the fridge/pantry to make sure I am using up everything that is perishable. Then I make a menu for the week that works around the perishables I want to use up, also scheduling when I will go pick up any more necessary ingredients at the market. This process ensures that I cook at least 5-6 nights a week. So I made my weekly food budget excel sheet in a way that would be easy to carry over to following weeks- nowadays I always get lunch at the cafeteria at work (but I plan on packing lunch in the future) so I just save the receipt and file away in an envelope at home. I also save receipts from the market in the same place, and go through these receipts every couple days to enter into my food budget worksheet, which looks like this:
I set up the sheet so that if I ever have a negative balance at the end of a week, then that amount will be subtracted from the following week’s food budget (no rollovers for extra money left though, that is cheating on the budget)! I think that this way of maintaining a food budget will work really well for me. Hopefully it will help somebody else too~