Food Is One of the Biggest Household Expenses
If you have a family of four you can easily spend $1000/month on groceries every month. This monthly expense adds up quickly. If you can cut back on food spending by just $200 a month you could save $2400/a year. If you can cut back by $400/a month you are looking at a saving of $4,800/a year. Saving money doesn’t have to mean top ramen for dinner every night. You can eat well, feed your family, enjoy grocery shopping and still save money using these tips to get your food budget under control.
Spend Less at the Grocery Store
The grocery store is designed to get you to fill your cart, whether you need all those items or not. Supermarkets strategically stock their shelves to make sure your eyes are drawn to those last minute goodies. Don’t fall for their tricks and use these tips to keep your grocery bill down.
- Make a list and stick to it
There is nothing more dangerous to your wallet than aimlessly wandering through the grocery store. Carefully go through your refrigerator and pantry before you head out and make a complete list of items needed. This will help you spend less and avoid grabbing items you don’t actually need.
- Never go shopping on an empty stomach
An empty stomach will make anything and everything look appetizing. Make sure that you eat before heading out to the grocery store. This will save you from expensive impulse purchases.
- Meal plan and cook more
Pre-planning is the key to success when it comes to grocery shopping. Look at your needs for the week and plan your meals in advance. This gives you the opportunity to use an ingredient multiple times. You can also save money by purchasing fresh or canned items and cooking. The more expensive foods at the grocery store are those that are convenient and prepackaged. You’ll also spend less if you are able to cook at home, and you get to enjoy leftovers.
- The freezer is your friend
Don’t be afraid of leftovers or cooking in bulk. When you cook at home, it can often be financially smart to make a big batch and freeze half of it. This helps save time and money and can help manage food expenses for a large family.
- Select generic brands
You may be more familiar with brand name items, but generics are usually just as good and cost much less. If you’re in doubt, check the labels. You may be pleasantly surprised and able to get basically the same item for less.
- Take advantage of coupons and specials
Most grocery stores will have coupons and specials available. Some still advertise in circulars or newspapers but many offer coupons online. Research your preferred grocery store and see how they send out their coupons and then take advantage of them.
- Online grocery shopping
If you simply can’t resist those impulse buys or are always surprised by your total at the checkout line, online shopping may be the solution for you. You can take your time selecting your items and avoid any last-minute temptations. You can also avoid situations such as your significant other or children insisting on filling the cart with their favorite goodies. If you find yourself spending a lot of money unnecessarily, try online shopping and see if the freedom of shopping alone and away from the store saves more than the delivery surcharge.
Spend Less Going Out to Eat
Another easy way to blow through your food budget is eating out. After a long, stressful week eating out may seem like just the thing you need. Eating out is far more expensive than making a meal at home. If you are having trouble balancing your food budget because of the temptation of the convenience and ease of eating out, here are some strategies to help.
- Don’t deprive yourself
If you have a favorite meal, drink or item from a nearby restaurant, see if you can duplicate it at home. Add little treats to your grocery list to replace going out when needed and you’ll spend less.
- Give yourself an eating out budget and stick with it
If you absolutely have to go out, set a dollar limit for what you can spend, and then get creative. You can eat out more times at a less expensive taqueria than you can at a 3-star restaurant. You can also simply go out for an appetizer or dessert. The best way to stick to your budget is to treat yourself within moderation.
- Don’t forget to share
Save money by sharing a meal with your spouse or child instead of ordering two full meals. In addition, make sure to take any leftovers home and save them for later.
Get Help With Your Budget
Getting your food budget under control is just one piece of a bigger budget puzzle. The biggest help your budget may need is to get out of debt. Contact McCarthy Law today to see how we can help. We are experts in helping clients bulldoze through debt and build a manageable and sustainable budget.