Did you know that the average grocery bill per week for a family of four can get up to almost $400? Maybe you’re reading this number thinking, that’s me! Or maybe you spend even more. No matter what you’re spending on your groceries each week, chances are there are ways you can cut down the cost, even just a little.
There is no question that food is an important part of everyday life, but if you feel this is an area in which you might be spending too much, we’re here to help! We’ve compiled 9 food budgeting hacks that will save you money. Just keep on reading to learn more!
1. Make a Budget
The first step in saving money on food costs is to make a budget. Decide how much you want to spend on food each week and stick to it. Be as frugal as you like, but keep it realistic; if you have a family of six, it’s highly unlikely that you will be able to get out of the grocery store with just $50 per week. The USDA has food plans available online to help, breaking down the cost of food for different budgets, family sizes, and children’s ages.
2. Make a Meal Plan
Meal plans are a fantastic place to start when trying to cut down on your food expenses. If you know exactly what you will be making for every meal, you can sit down and make a list of precisely what you will need from the store, removing any guesswork or nonessential purchases.
3. Stay In The Perimeter
Not only will shopping around the perimeter of the store save you money, it will also keep your food on the healthy side! Think about the foods stored around the edges: produce, meats, bread, and dairy. The aisles are packed with processed, packaged foods that are both more expensive and less healthy. By shopping the perimeter, you avoid any junk food or knick-knacks that might catch you or your children’s eye.
4. Buy Generic
When you do have to go down the aisles, be sure to buy generic instead of name brand. Nine times out of ten, the generic, or store brand, version of a product will cost much less than the well-known brand. And they usually contain the exact same ingredients! This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t check prices, as every now and then this isn’t the case, but as a general rule, skipping on name brands is a good move.
5. Check Unit Prices
More often than not, you don’t need to carry a calculator around the grocery store to figure out which brand or size of something will give you the best deal. Check the price of the items on the shelf and they should have a “unit price” in addition to the purchase price that gives you the cost per ounce. A larger package doesn’t always mean a better deal; the package with the lowest unit price is the way to go to save money.
6. Don’t Go Shopping When You’re Hungry
It may seem obvious but, if you think about it, this is one of the best tips there is. If you go to the grocery store after you haven’t eaten all day, you’re going to be much more inclined to splurge because you’re so hungry, everything sounds good. Be sure to shop after a meal or at least a filling snack, so you are less tempted to stray from your carefully constructed list.
7. Food Budgeting 101: Store Food Properly
Even if you spent hours making your food budget, perfectly structuring it down to the last cent, if you end up throwing out half of what you bought, you’re still wasting tons of money. Learning how to better store your food can save you from throwing money down the drain.
For example, if chicken breast is on sale, so you buy two packages instead of one, be sure to toss the second package in the freezer if you won’t be using it before the expiration date. Or, if you only need half of the chicken from the package, use a vacuum sealer to ensure that it stays fresh, ready to be thawed and cooked whenever you need it. Visit this website to learn more about vacuum sealers and what they can do for you and your wallet.
8. Keep Your Kitchen Organized
You may be thinking, how in the world is cleaning my kitchen going to save me money? Well, have you ever gone to the grocery store thinking you need a jar a spaghetti sauce, only to find one already in the back of your pantry when you get home? Keeping your kitchen organized, therefore having a much better idea of what you have and what you don’t, will keep you from making unnecessary purchases.
9. Restaurants Aren’t Your Friend
If you’re trying to save money on food, going out to eat is not for you. You may be surprised to learn that restaurants mark up the cost of food 300%! This means that making the same thing at home would cost three times less. Going out for a nice meal every now and then isn’t a bad thing, but eating at restaurants more than you do at home is going to send your food budget through the roof.
Go Forth and Save
Now that you have these tips on food budgeting, you’re ready to start saving money. But don’t stop with food! Take a look at your entire budget and really be honest with yourself about where you could stand to spend a little less.
A well-organized budget and a little penny pinching could save you more than you ever thought possible!
And if you need any help along the way, be sure to check out our website, where we have countless tips and tricks to save money and make your life easier.