★ Money Challenge #12: Create A Food Plan

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This is part of our Weekly Money Challenge series.
Be sure to check off any you’ve missed!

Food… can’t live without it, but you don’t have to spend a fortune on it either. The amount you spend on food each month is one of the biggest and easiest targets in your budget.

In 2015, U.S. households spent an average of $7,023 (12.5 percent of income) on food. (BLS.gov)

12.5% is just the average, some families spend up to 20% of their income on food. Cutting that number in half is very doable with a plan. Even cutting it by a few percentages would have a drastic impact on your finances!

This Week’s Challenge: Guess what you spend on food each month, then look it up.

Start by guessing first, then looking it up. Where you go from there is up to you. Here’s a few ideas:

  • Try cutting your food budget in half
  • Try giving yourself a daily food allowance
  • Try bringing your lunch to work
  • Start meal prepping/planning
  • Try eating all the food in the house before buying anything new
  • Try eating only at home for a week, month or forever!
  • Start shopping at Aldi, Costco, or other low-cost stores in your area
  • Use more coupons

Here are some resources that may help you out:

Because I am very guilty myself, I can say that over-spending on food is the result of poor planning, laziness, social pressures, and just being (blissfully?) unaware of how much you are spending. But I can also say that cutting your food bill in half is easy!

Awareness is the first step, after that you can figure out what to do about it.

Let us know what you guessed and what you uncovered about your food bill over in the forums!

Derek, Master of Challenges


PS: Curious to see how last week’s challenge went? Click here and scroll to the bottom.


Food cost is something we all have in common, it’s interesting to see the different ways people tackle it.

Here’s a few tips people left over in the forums.

This is a fantastic quick list of ways to save money on food and a few other household expenses.

Fifty Tips for Frugal February from Erith.

(Seriously, read this post!)

Another thing to add to the list is to try to find a co-op. We have a co-op chain here where organic and local foods are sold and are much more reasonably priced than Whole Foods.

Additionally, in the spring, you can find cheap veggies at farmers markets. Some of them will sell things like tomatoes (that are usually expensive), at a discounted rate because they are bruised. –PrimalProsperity

Pull your entire coffee shop, restaurant, pub , grocery store and snack spending into one spot ( I love Mint for this) Then start to drop that month over month.

In North America we eat waaaaaayyyy too much meat, start cutting those portions down huge to see quick savings. I eat zero pork for the most part and have stopped eating steak. Dial back the amount of chicken in meals also. Start using pasta and rice more with fresh veggies. –Stasher

For us, what really helps is:
– meal planning
– meat only 1-2x/week
– shopping less expensive stores (Costco/WinCo/Trader Joe’s)
– restaurant only 1-2x/month


Derek heads up the Weekly Money Challenges here at Rockstar Finance and over in the Rockstar Money Forums. He also runs an outrageous blog and podcast over at HowDoIMoney.com – check it out!

Last modified: April 5, 2017

6 Responses to :
★ Money Challenge #12: Create A Food Plan

  1. Our food bill is what motivated us to pursue FIRE. :) We used to spend $10/meal two years ago. I’m proud to say that today we have it down to below $2/meal!!! Meal planning is life-changing, y’all.

    Both my husband and I are Picky eaters and we were able to come up with lots of family meals for our repertoire. It’s super doable!

    1. J. Money says:

      Holy crap!! I need you to come over here and whip us into shape, please! :)

    2. derek says:

      I’ve heard plenty of stories of people saving boat-loads of money on groceries/food. But I’ve never heard anyone say it was the gateway to pursuing FIRE. However, I’m not that surprised since food is such a large target in your budget. I can totally see the link.

  2. I run with a few guidelines that help me get through
    – budget everything under one umbrella, from fast food to restaurants and grocery store
    – cut seriously back on meat, we eat way too much and is your biggest expense
    – if you like something eat it all the time, if you like rice and veggies then eat it everyday
    – buy smaller amounts more often, this helps you have a better chance to catch sales and promos
    – buy the beat up and bruised veggies and food at expiring, nothing wrong with it, costs less
    – make a rule of zero food waste in your house, don’t make too much and never throw out food

  3. Caron says:

    Now that it’s just me in the house (kids have moved out!), I’ve figured out that I will need to adjust my mindset about how much/what to buy and I think a meal plan will help a lot with this.

    An example is baking stuff. I used to do a LOT of home baking for the family (bread, cookies, pizza, etc.) and buying flour in the 10 kilo bag made sense. With one person in the house (me) who shouldn’t eat all those carbs ‘n’ goodies, that amount of flour is just too much. I’ll either have to find someone to split it with or overcome my aversion to non-bulk buys!

    1. Derek Olsen says:

      Interesting. I’m guessing that switching to “non-bulk” will actually save you money now that you are cooking for fewer people. Even though you might spend more per pound of food, your over all food cost will come down, but I can see how it would be hard to let go of buying in bulk after years and years of doing so.

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