When it comes to budgeting, one area that a lot of people can struggle with is food. The reasons it can be so difficult can be from something as simply not being familiar with the concepts behind a food budget, or lack of experience with such. As daunting as the task may be, whether it is for a night out, a night in, or for a whole family, tips for food budgeting and how to avoid overspending on food are quite universal.
Tips for an evening out; how to avoid spending a fortune for good eats.
As with any sort of money saving or money related venture, planning and research are the keys to saving. Aside from the obvious necessity of self control and discipline, you need to be prepared for a bit of web browsing and forum surfing. Finding the best eateries in your area means tapping into the world of the foodie. Those people obsessed with posting every bite of food before they enjoy it are often a good source for where is good and what the price is like. Picking a place at random on those spontaneous evenings can be a costly let down. Taking even just a few minutes to look up highly rated and budget friendly places can still let you get out and have fun on the fly, without ending up in the web of a sour evening.
The other half how to not over spend when going, aside from making the plans, is having the willpower to stick with them. Set a flexible budget, often restaurants will have menus with prices on their website, or you can contact them and ask a few simple questions, such as what is your most expensive meal and what is the price range on drinks. Use the highest possible prices as your guide and plan for ten to twenty dollars over that. The wiggle room can allow you to still feel like you are splurging when you get an extra something, such as a new appetizer you just had to try or an extra bit of dessert. Planing and budgeting is not all about counting every penny, it is also about giving yourself room to have fun and feel free without breaking the bank and regretting it afterwards.
Eating in is almost always cheaper than a night out.
For most people, the big appeal to eating out is the convenience of not having to cook or clean and the appeal of a different setting. However, the added price of preparation and clean up can add up quite a bit over time. Planning a fun meal at home can be a great experience for a fraction of the price. Be it a family get together, family time, or even couple’s time, the joy of preparing a meal, either off a new recipe to learn together or teaching one to others, can be a truly bonding and memorable experience that is budget friendly. Comparatively, the cost of one meal at a nice restaurant for two can run between £30 to £40, for that price, using the cheapest meal, even done extremely healthy, is a pasta and marinara sauce with bread on the side, which can feed at least four to six people for around £10 to £15. Those are rough numbers taking into account whole grain organic pastas, organic or fresh made sauce and bread, including lean grade grass fed beef. Which is just one of many bountiful meals that can be fun to make, doesn’t take that much prep and can be really easy to clean up after the meal, or even as you go along and prepare it.
When it comes to special events.
If you are planning a large event, such as a holiday party, and you have a lot of people to feed. One of the best ways to help cut corners with the food budget is to start with a few simple formulas. First you will need a highly estimated or exact head count. If you are told to plan for 20 to 30 people, aim for 35. Always be prepared for a few extra and never put everything out at once in case there are less. Once you know how many there are take into account how much are they going to be eating. Is it just a snack buffet event, is it snacks and a large meal? Budget to spend only a set amount per person. The low end is to plan about £2.00 per head, while the high end is around £5. Using local ads and taking advantage of digital coupons, you can save quite a bit while sticking to a budget. With the example numbers, spending between £75 to £175 on food should be more than enough to amply feed everyone.
While this may seem a bit outlandish to some people, keep in mind that there are thousands of families that feed their whole family on the government’s subsidy of around £1.50 to £2.00 per person per meal, which is roughly eating three meals a day for around £5 a person. So, it is quite possible to plan a single event around those numbers. The trick is in thinking thrift and being creative. Buying bags of pop corn kernels, using a pot, a little bit of oil or butter, and a unique blend of seasoning can yield some amazing and well received snacks. You can go savoury or sweet and still stay well within budget. There are thousands, if not millions, of resources online for thrifty recipes that make great additions to parties and holiday gatherings. When it comes to staying in budget and not overspending, another thrifty way to not overspend is to go with store brand items. There are many great alternatives to name brand items sold at many chains. Wal-Mart and Krogers are two American chains that have a great selection of more economically priced alternatives to name brand foods and snacks. The close resemblance and great tastes can even allow it to be your little secret that makes for quite the conversation when they ask where to get it for themselves.