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2 Planning your food budget is one of the most important things you can do to save money. With a food budget you are less likely to run out of food. Here are the steps: Step 1: First, think about how much it costs each month to feed your family. Hint -- try keeping track of all the money you spend in one week on food; be sure to write down everything! Then multiply that number by 4 -- this will tell you about what it costs to feed your family for a month. Step 2. List the staples you need each month. Staples are foods that help you avoid having a bare cupboard, and are not going to go bad. These might include peanut butter, flour, corn meal, sugar, dry milk, dry or canned beans, tuna, rice, macaroni, spices, and salt. Estimate how much you need to spend on staples, and subtract that amount from your monthly food budget. In the example below, Sharon's monthly food budget is \$300. Her staples will cost her about \$140 each month, leaving her with \$160. \$300 (monthly budget) -140 (out of staples) \$160 (left over)

3 Step 3. After you have subtracted out for your staples, divide the remaining amount of money by four. This is the amount of money you have left each week for perishables. Perishables are things you should buy weekly to keep them fresh, such as vegetables, fruit, meat, eggs, and milk. In the above example, after buying a month's worth of staples at the beginning of the month, Sharon was left with \$160. Dividing by 4 left her with \$40 each week to spend on perishables. Now that you've planned a food budget, you are ready for the next step. Check to see what you have on hand -- be sure to look in your cupboards, your freezer, and your refrigerator. Keep plenty of staples on hand -- they store well, and stretch meals. "Staples" are also called "just in case foods." Here are some examples of "just in case foods": Pasta, rice, canned tomatoes, tomato sauce, canned green beans and corn, jarred spaghetti sauce, raisins, canned fruit, canned tuna and clams, canned and dry beans, peanut butter, canned soups like cream of mushroom, and canned and dry milk. Taking inventory of what you have on hand will keep you from buying food you don't need.

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