I have nothing against people who like to come up with systems and plans for tackling the family grocery bill. There are some people who can simply set a weekly limit on their grocery budget and make it work. I’m not that kind of person.
When I was a kid my favorite sesame street character was the Count. I was a mathlete before I was the high school bowling team captain. I’m the guy with an excel spreadsheet, crunching numbers and running statistical analysis. If you’ve ever wanted to see someone over analyze the family grocery bill, this post is for you.
The Average Family Budget by Serving
I’ve added, subtracted and averaged family spending in so many ways, but the results are always the same. Annually the budget looks large, but by serving it’s very small.
Let’s take the average family grocery bill. Annually, the average family spends $3,624 on groceries. That works out to $302 per month or $9.93 per day. Let’s assume three meals a day and a family of three. That means the average family spends $1.10 each meal.
Think about it for a moment. What meal can you buy for $1.10? It’s not a great deal of money.
Small Amounts Each Severing Will Add Up Quickly
The family grocery bill is very small when you look at it by serving. That’s a very important characteristic to consider. What if we bumped up spending by a mere $.25 per serving? At the end of the year, you’d have a food budget of $4,434.75 and spend nearly an extra $1,000.
While even a small amount of spending can mean big bucks at the end of the year, small amounts of saving can have the same impact.
It’s Not the Price of the Meal; It’s the Price of a Serving
When you realize just how much an extra few pennies each serving impacts your budget, you start to realize that controlling your grocery bill isn’t about the cost of a meal. It’s about how many servings you can each and how does the cost of a recipe break down into a serving.
Take a favorite American meal like hamburgers:
- Hamburger – 1lb – $2.00
- Buns – 4- $.75
- French Fries – $1.00
- Beans $1.00
- Carrots – $.50
- Condiments – $.25
Total Cost: $5.50
Cost per Serving: $1.83
You could celebrate over cooking a meal for the family for $5.50. However, when you consider that the meal feeds only three people and the cost per serving is a $1.83 you are on your way to nearly doubling the average family grocery bill.
How My Family Has Used this Information
My family struggled with the grocery bill for a long time. Like the hamburger example above, we that the meals we cooked were low cost. We’d rarely make a meal that cost more than $10 to make, never considering how little food the recipes made.
As I mentioned earlier, we dropped our grocery budget from $650 to $350 by paying attention to the cost per serving. Our family recipe target is a cost of $1 per serving. We don’t always find that price, but we can often get below $1 and make up for more expensive recipes. We also spread out the more expensive recipes so that we aren’t always spending on the expensive meals.
While my grocery budgeting sounds like a lot of adding, this is what has worked for us. I’ve found that we eat just as well as we did before, but for $3,600 less each year. That kind of money is worth some time tracking.
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