Track your food expenses for a month

This exercise can be fun, and may be surprising. Ask everyone in your family to track their food expenses. Each time you spend money on food anywhere, write your initials on the back of the receipt and put it in a jar. If you don’t have a receipt, make a note including what was bought, who bought it, and how much it cost.

Save with a Cup o' Joe to go!

Think about where you buy food: grocery store, restaurants, school lunch, the soda machine at work, popcorn at the movies, coffee and Danish, bottled water at the convenience store...

At the end of the month, spread out all the receipts/notes and put them in stacks by location. Then look at how much you spent at each location.

  • Does anything surprise you?
  • Do you really need to eat out as much as you do, or is it a habit?
  • Can you find less expensive places to eat out?
  • Can you share dinners with friends, or have potlucks instead of eating out?
  • Do you need to learn new skills or get different recipes for more eating at home?
  • Can you bring more food from home instead of buying away from home?

These decisions affect the whole family. If you want to make a change, the whole family, including children, needs to talk about the necessary changes.  

As the family talks about what is most important, be sure you are all listening to each other.

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