Grocery expenses comprise a large portion of most American’s budgets. According to data released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the average middle-aged male spends just under $300 per month on groceries when following a “moderate-cost plan.” But, you can save money on groceries.
The average family of four, meanwhile, can expect to incur around $1000 worth of food expenses each month when following a similar middle-of-the-road strategy.
How does your family’s spending compare with how to save money on groceries? If you and your spouse have two children, do you fall above or below the $1000/month figure? If below, you can congratulate yourself on being efficient with your grocery purchases.
Of course, you can always strive to realize added cuts that can bring your spending into the low-cost range (around $800/month) and allow you to put more money into your online savings account. But, if over that mark, you might want to make a concerted and sustained effort to reduce your food budget, especially if money is tight. Doing so can amount to tremendous savings in the long-run.
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How to save money on groceries? Here are a few tips:
Plan out meals beforehand. When we go to the grocery store we usually have a general conception of what we plan to eat over the next couple weeks, and we use that conception to write a shopping list. This approach is certainly more effective than going to the store with no list in hand, but it still results in purchase inefficiencies.
In other words, we don’t actually need everything that we think we do. How can this be corrected? Plan your meals out beforehand – even two weeks out – and then go shopping with a determined meal plan in mind. This will insure that you only buy those items that you know you need.
Buy non-perishables in bulk. Cereals, pastas, canned items, spices, and other major non-perishables can be gotten for much cheaper when bought in bulk. With this in mind, head out to Costco or Sam’s Club or a similar warehouse store whenever a bulk purchase needs to be made. Then, store any surplus in your pantry or basement until it is needed.
Use a store card. Many grocery store chains offer membership cards that provide regular discounts, rebates, and other promotions. While many consumers are hesitant to use these cards – possibly because retail store cards have a deservedly bad reputation – a membership at your local shopping place will almost always amount to savings in the long-run.
Go vegetarian. Since meat products are usually among the most costly in a grocery store and in a family’s shopping budget, the move towards vegetarianism can translate into substantial savings and allow you to save money on groceries. Instead of purchasing costly red meat or chicken, your family can instead get the same protein benefits from far cheaper items such as lentils and beans.
Seek out nutritional, low-cost foods. On a similar note, finding foods that have a high nutrition-to-cost ratio is a great way to feed your family without incurring much cost. These foods include beans, rice, pasta, tuna, and eggs, among others.
Buy store-brand. This one goes without saying, but store brand items are almost universally cheaper than private brand products – and they are rarely distinguishable when it comes to taste and quality.
These are a few ways that you can try to reduce your family’s grocery expenses. While a few savings here and there may not seem like much, they can amount to considerable budget reductions in the long run.
How do you save money on groceries? What are your tips? I’d love to hear them in the comment section below.