According to the U.S Department of Agriculture, the average American family of four spends more than $1,100 per month on groceries. Though grocery prices are on the rise, food does not have to be a huge expense. Whether you are working to get out of debt, need to cut back on your expenses due to a recent job loss, or if you are just trying to spend less, your grocery bill is a great opportunity to save more money each month.
You may feel that cutting back on a necessity like groceries is too much of a sacrifice. But, chances are you can probably reduce your grocery bill without having to feel deprived. The USDA reports between thirty to forty percent of the American food supply is wasted. That means we are throwing away much of the food we buy on our grocery trips; and therefore, we are throwing away money.
So, how can you slash your grocery budget to save more money and consume more responsibly? Here are a few tips to get you on the right track.
Ever go to the grocery store hungry? It is a bad idea because everything will sound good and impulse buys will get the best of your wallet. Always plan your grocery trips. This may mean writing a grocery list and only purchasing the items on your list. Or, perhaps you decide to switch to a grocery store pickup or delivery service. Many grocery stores now offer free pick-up, so you can order your groceries online and pick them up on your way home from work. And, several stores partner with grocery delivery services that will bring your groceries straight to your door. By avoiding the impulse buys and only purchasing the groceries you need, you will inevitably save money.
Create a Grocery Budget
Figure out how much you can afford to spend on groceries each month and stay within your budget. To really slash your grocery budget, aim to always spend less than you can afford to spend.
This means smart shopping. Buy the generic brand if it is available. For many products, the generic is virtually identical to your favorite name brand, but at a fraction of the cost. Also, watch for coupons or advertised savings. But, be cautious in your search for savings. Do not get blinded by the word “sale.” When you are looking for a good deal, remember that something is only a good deal if you need to purchase the item anyway. Just because something is on sale or you find a coupon for it in the Sunday paper does not make it a good deal, especially if it is something you do not need or would not ordinarily buy.
Cook Your Own Meals
Eating out can be expensive. When planning your shopping trip, consider meal prepping. Maybe for you, meal prep means spending a few hours on Sunday cooking several meals to eat for lunch and dinner during the week. But, meal prep can also just mean planning what meals to cook for the week and figuring out how many meals you can get out of what you cook. Having a plan and knowing that you will have leftovers or a home-prepared meal for lunch can help you avoid the temptation of fast food meals or costly dinners out. So, stock up on the basics, browse those old recipe books, bookmark your favorite cooking videos online, and plan your grocery trips accordingly.
Have a Vegetarian Night
Meat is one of the most expensive grocery items. Consider taking a night off from meat and have a vegetarian meal instead. Protein-rich foods like beans, cheese, spinach, and mushrooms are healthy options that can give your wallet a little break. Plus, many of these protein-rich foods are also high in fiber which means the food will fuel your body and keep you feeling satisfied, which may eliminate the need to snack later! This can help you reduce your grocery budget by cutting back your snack food purchases.
Grow Your Own Produce
This may sound intimidating or unrealistic, but some produce is not only cheaper to grow on your own, but it is also low maintenance and easy to do. Look into growing your own salad greens, tomatoes, green beans, or fresh herbs. For less than the cost of one bag of salad mix, you can purchase a seed packet that will give you a steady supply of fresh greens for up to five months. Not the green thumb type? Consider purchasing your produce at a local farmer’s market instead of at the store. Purchasing directly from the farmer will usually save you money and often provides better quality products.
Budgeting Tips to Keep You Out of Debt
Working to widdle down your grocery bill is a fantastic way to steward your finances well, to pay down debt, and to avoid accruing more balances on your credit cards. If you feel overwhelmed by your financial situation, though, consider looking into a debt relief program for help. The best debt consolidation programs out there can help you get back on your feet financially by rolling your debts into a single amount owed, lowering your interest rate, and compressing your payback timeline. Slashing your grocery bill is great, but if you are in serious financial trouble, a debt relief option is worth investigating. Reach out to your local credit bureau or a debt relief professional to learn more.