Family budgeting is an amazing tool to help keep priorities in line and waste at a minimum. With a smaller income, a budget is important for ensuring bills get paid and food is on the table. The same is true for a large income where the danger becomes nonchalant and comfortable spending. A budget creates a boundary for spending, a security zone for the earnings of hard work and sacrificed time.
Every family has different areas that need to be addressed, but one of the most important is “Grocery/Food.” As varying as the categories can be, as are the amounts allocated. I’m convinced, however, that most families snip away at this hugely important section far too often.
I used to be very into couponing. I’d get all the papers and spend too much time matching up the stores and discounts and deals and memberships and points. I was very organized and had a great community of women to draw expertise from. Then we started eating real food. There aren’t enough coupons for real food to merit spending money on the newspapers. If you have the time, energy, proximity to stores and freedom to hop around, you might be able to make it work. That is not my situation.
(Chicken and vegetable zucchini “pasta” salad, <$3.00 lunch or dinner)
It became time for me to take a step back and see how to afford the healthy foods for my growing family. I began to realize that as our nutrition improved, our health improved. Our energy increased. Our desire for eating out dropped. Our sugar cravings had vanished. We were seeing our need for medical intervention as nearly non-existent. We are the healthiest we have ever been and it’s all due to our clean and healthy eating habits. We were able to chisel down other expenses to help support our nutrition. (For example: “eating out”, “medical prescriptions”, “entertainment”, “subscriptions”, and more). As it became our lifestyle, it became easier to spot good deals and know which stores had better quality. I became more familiar with whole food recipes and how to alter traditional recipes. Our health has truly become our priority.
(Chicken over cranberry & walnut cauliflower rice, with bacon and feta crumbles and a balsamic reduction, <$3.00 dinner)
I know I could cut my grocery budget in half if I decided to eat according to the American diet or even according to the all-knowing government-provided food pyramid. But I won’t do it. There is no amount of money I would trade for the health and well-being of my family. There is no cable subscription, recurring salon days or even gym membership that I would choose to prioritize over the vitality of my tribe.
(Dried banana chips with almond butter and fresh fruit, <$1 snack or dessert)
I would encourage you to review your family spending. Save every receipt and itemize them into relevant categories at the end of the month. Reality might not mesh with your supposed priorities and your spending will help you determine if that is the case. It is imperative to realize the control you have over your quality of life! Unless, of course, by quality you’re envisioning weekly manicures and botox and heels and nannies. Then I can’t help you.
(It’s not fun, but it is definitely worth the effort!)
Please contact me or comment below if you have any interest or questions about creating a family budget or improving your nutrition!