Welcome back to the collaboration between Mint and Brewing Happiness. I’m Haley, the girl behind Brewing Happiness – a blog about celebrating the small healthy choices we make in our lives, complete with recipes for everybody! I’m here to give you tips on living a healthy, happy life on a budget.
Today I’m going to give you my best tips for food budgeting for couples. Since every couple is different, I reached out to many of my friends to hear about their budget struggles and successes. Out of those conversations I developed six main strategies to help couples successfully food budget.
I won’t go into specific numbers, because those are for you and your partner to decide. However, I will provide helpful percentages and guide points for you to form your budget around. Hopefully these tips help you form a food budget strategy that makes sense for your life!
#1 Actually sit down and set a budget.
This was the number one comment I got when interviewing couples about their food budgets. Most people don’t take the time to sit down and talk it through. A good starting point for developing a budget is to look at what 10-15% of your combined income is. That number might be too high for you, depending on how much you pay for rent or how tight money is, but generally that’s a good place to start.
#2 Once a week make a plan and grocery shop.
After your budget is solidified, take one day a week (usually Saturday or Sunday is best) to sit down and make a game plan for the week. This should include what time each person will be home for dinner, if you are eating separately or together, etc. From there you will want to make a grocery list for the week and go grocery shopping. Just make sure you stick to the list when you are at the store!
#3 Make smarter meals.
When I say “smarter” meals I mean meals that make sense for both sides. Crockpot meals are great for this, because they can stay warm and be ready no matter if you are eating together or separately. Plus, they make great leftovers. Salads, grain bowls, and sandwiches are other smart meals that can be eaten for lunch or dinner and leftovers can be saved.
#4 When money gets tight, turn to pantry staples.
Perhaps at the end of the week, or at the end of the month money is tighter if you are sticking to a solid budget. This is when you can turn to pantry staples like oats, grains, pasta, cans of beans, etc. to fill you up. Use your pantry staples as the bulk of your meal and add in what you have left or leftover. This will usually get you through the week.
#5 Do date night at home.
It’s easy to buy steaks or chicken or make pizza, along with a cheap bottle of wine, a little side salad, and some chocolate for under $30. This is half of what you’d spend at a restaurant for the same meal. So make date night at home by buying some “fancier” items, you wouldn’t buy during the week, but stick to a $30 budget.
#6 Save splurging for the weekend.
Ideally, your one grocery trip provides you five days worth of groceries. That way, on the weekend, you can use the rest of your budget to eat out for a meal or two. This can help motivate you to really stick to the budget all week long, if you know there are reward meals coming.
Sticking to a five-day plan is the simplest way to start food budgeting as a couple. Agree on meals you want to make that week, and do the shopping together. Aim to spend 70-80% of your weekly budget on your grocery run at the start of the week. Save the final 20-30% of your budget for fun weekend dinners out or a date night at home.
The easiest strategy to food budgeting is simply to start. And as with all things in a relationship, communication is key. Starting this process with an open an honest conversation about expectations will allow your budget to work with your life!
Over the next few months I’ll be covering a variety of ways to be healthy on a budget. Keep an eye out for those and head over to Brewing Happiness for healthy recipe inspiration in the meantime!