How much do you spend on food in a typical month?

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2 How much do you spend on food in a typical month? $ How much I spend each month in Food Stamps (EBT card benefit). $ How much I spend each month in WIC vouchers. $ How much I spend each month in cash for food. $ TOTAL If you re not sure, fill in the box below to get an estimate of cash used. Cash Spent for Food, Meals, or Snacks (per month) $ Groceries purchased with cash $ Cash for breakfasts or lunches at school or work $ Cash for snacks and beverages away from home $ Cash for meals eaten out in addition to school or work lunches $ Cash for special occasion food purchases $ Other food purchases $ Total Cash Used for Food in a Typical Month Given your resources, can you buy enough nutritious food? Yes No If your food dollars do not last the entire month, what can you do differently to get through next time? Figure out where your money goes each month. Decide how much to spend on food. Take time to plan how to use your food dollars so you can eat better for less.

3 Where does my money go now? Fill out the first column. How much did you spend in each category last month? Column 1 Column 2 Where Does My Money Go Now? The amount I spent last month Where Do I Want It To Go? The amount I plan to spend next month Savings, set asides Loan and credit payments Mortgage or rent Heat, power, water, cable TV, and phone(s) Food, including Food Stamps, WIC vouchers, and cash Transportation (taxi, bus, gas, car repairs, fees) Health (doctor, dentist, drugs, supplies) Insurance (car, health, life) Clothing and care of clothing Spending money Gifts and donations Barber and beauty shop visits and supplies Entertainment and recreation Child care and elder care Cost of pets (food, vet, shots) School costs Alcohol and cigarettes Other Total Monthly Expenses $ Is There Enough Money? $ Total Monthly Income (including value of WIC vouchers and Food Stamps) - less Total Monthly Expenses $ Amount over or under If your total expenses are greater than your total monthly income, what can you do to lower some of your expenses? First fill out column 2, Where Do I Want It to Go?, in the chart above. To lower your food bill, consider the following tips.

4 Making your food dollars last the whole month Try using a calendar to make your money last. Write the amounts of your income, EBT deposit, and value of WIC vouchers on the dates that you expect to receive them. Write the amount of each bill on the date you will pay it. Enter the amounts of money you plan to spend on other items (including all food purchased with cash, EBT, and WIC) on the dates you plan to make those purchases. Keep track of your income and expenses! Getting the most for your food dollars Shop for nutritious food for your family. Use MyPyramid to help you choose foods that will keep your family healthy. For more information, explore the Web site Steps to a Healthier You at Try to eat a variety of foods from each food group to give yourself the most benefit. If you don t have internet access, go to your local library. Most have internet access available to the public.

5 Shop carefully and wisely Stay within your food budget. Get all the foods you need to stay healthy before buying less nutritious food. Reduce spoilage. Here are some ways to eat better for less. Check off the tips you already use. Try the ones you have not checked. Before shopping Make a list of 10 recipes that you often use or want to use. Make a shopping list from those recipes and other food needs. Stick to the list unless you find a bargain that you can use. Use food coupons only for food needed that is a good buy and that you will use. Organize your coupons before shopping. Check to see that the price using the coupon is cheaper than alternatives. Shop at stores that double or triple coupon values. Check store circulars from several stores. These are usually in the Sunday or Wednesday newspaper and also may be found at the front of the store. When possible, shop at more than one store to get the best buys, but make sure shopping at several different stores does not cost too much in extra time and transportation. Shop less frequently. If you don t see it, you won t buy it. When shopping Use unit pricing (look at the label located on the grocery shelf) to get the best buy. Stock up on fruits and vegetables that are in season. Freeze or can what you won t use before it spoils. Buy store and/or generic brands. These are often of the same quality as name brands. Grated cheese or wrapped cheese slices may cost more than blocks of cheese. Check the unit cost before you buy. Know your food prices and review your cash register receipt before leaving the store to be sure that you were charged properly. Buy less meat. Replace meat with beans or use smaller amounts of meat by making more stir-fry dishes and casseroles. Compare the prices of juice concentrate mixes to fresh juice. Can you save money by adding your own water? Buy large portions of meats. Whole chickens, large bags of chicken parts, and family packs may cost less per pound. Divide meat into smaller freezer bags and freeze. Buy corn meal, flour, and other staples instead of expensive prepackaged mixes. Cook from scratch. Shop when you are not hungry. Know your grocery store. Shop when they mark down items.

6 Shop carefully and wisely (continued) Preparing and storing food Eat fewer meals away from home. Pack lunches, snacks, and beverages, such as juice, for work or school. Buy in larger quantities and divide into smaller size portions for lunches. Avoid vending machines; these foods are often quite expensive and less nutritious. Shop for food in grocery stores rather than in convenience stores. Prepare foods from scratch. Convenience foods can cost a lot. Make homemade chili instead of using canned chili. Cut up your own meat, vegetables, and fruit. Avoid waste. Mix small portions of leftover vegetables together or use them along with meats in stew, casseroles, soup, or stir-fry dishes. Freeze leftovers. Use within 1 to 2 months for best quality and flavor. Drink tap water rather than bottled water, soda, or sweetened juice. Grow, catch, raise, or gather your own A small corner of your backyard can produce easy-to-grow crops like bell peppers, tomatoes, strawberries, lima beans, lettuce, sweet peas, green beans, eggplant, and more. No backyard? Try growing tomatoes and bell peppers in flower pots. Gather berries or other fruit that is available to the public. Go to pick-your-own farms. Go fishing. Raise livestock. Try these suggestions, and keep track of what you spend on food. You can improve your family s diet and your budget. Prepared by Jan Lloyd, Retired Family Resource Management Specialist Jacquelyn McClelland, Food and Nutrition Specialist Angela Fraser, Food Safety Specialist North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service, North Carolina State University 3,000 copies of this public document were printed at a cost of $800.00, or $0.27 per copy. Published by NORTH CAROLINA COOPERATIVE EXTENSION SERVICE Distributed in furtherance of the acts of Congress of May 8 and June 30, North Carolina State University and North Carolina A&T State University commit themselves to positive action to secure equal opportunity regardless of race, color, creed, national origin, religion, sex, age, or disability. In addition, the two Universities welcome all persons without regard to sexual orientation. North Carolina State University, North Carolina A&T State University, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and local governments cooperating. 1/07 3M JMG (Reprint) FCS-488 E

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