Create an effective budget for meal expenses by distinguishing between eating out and purchasing home groceries, tracking the expenses for each type of purchase, and calculating the percent of monthly pay that goes to each section. Examine the rest of the monthly budget to determine how much money goes to each section, and adjust the food budget to allow for an appropriate proportional breakdown.
The process of making a budget for meal expenses begins by determining the purpose of the budget, which allows you to define the terms of the process and focus on the most effective areas. If the budget is to help reduce spending on prepared meals, such as from restaurants and fast food establishments, then the focus needs to rest on those expenses and not on other food purchases. Track the spending on the appropriate categories over a month, then divide that amount by the total monthly income to find the percentage spent on it.
Knowing the percent of income spent on food allows you to modify your budget by setting a specific dollar amount lower than the current value. It may also help to modify the budget to allocate the additional funds to another section, such as a savings account. To reduce spending to meet the new goal, consider actions such as reducing the consumption of certain food groups, such as meat, or avoiding alcoholic beverages.