Groceries seem to be taking an ever-bigger chunk out of the family food budget than ever before.
But you can reduce the size of that chunk by re-evaluating your food and shopping choices. And guess what? It can be fun!
Here are 5 simple ways to save money on your next visit to the grocery store.
1. Check out weekly store sales
Your local grocery store probably sends out a flier in the local newspaper, or they have them stacked inside the doorway of the store itself. Some stores post their sales online.
Make it a weekly habit to review these sales. Then plan that week’s meals based on what’s on sale. Of course, stocking up on sale items is something that is within many budgets; but make sure it’s a food that is or can be preserved.
2. Look out for closeouts
When you’re in the store, keep a sharp eye out for tables and brightly-colored stickers. Foods that are on the verge of spoilage, near their expiration date, or that have damaged packaging are often on sale for super-low prices.
You may have to do a quick re-plan of your meals if you need to eat the sale item that same day; or, take the item home and freeze it or make something with it that can be frozen or preserved.
3. Check out online coupons
If clipping coupons from the local paper is not your style, you can still make use of coupons available online, through your local store, or in fliers.
A word of caution about coupons – beware of changing your family’s food choices drastically to accommodate coupons. Many times, you’ll save more money by buying fresh, whole foods without coupons than expensive pre-packaged foods with them.
4. Buy staples vs. pre-packaged
It really is cheaper to buy whole foods and make your own snacks and meals than buying pre-prepared foods.
Buy staples like flour (or wheat berries – which is even cheaper – if you can grind your own) and make your own baked goods; buy potatoes and make oven fries rather than buying pre-cut frozen potatoes; buy whole carrots and scrub and cut them; etc.
Even fresh produce is subject to expensive pre-preparation. Buying a head of lettuce and washing it yourself, for instance, nearly always costs less than a pre-washed salad in a bag.
The same is true for pre-cut vegetables and fruits, and the expense is even greater if the pre-cut foods come packaged with dips or other flavor enhancers.
5. Include meatless meals
Let’s face it – meat is expensive, and adds a lot to the monthly food budget. It gets really pricey when you buy deli and packaged meats.
Try cutting back on your family’s meat consumption by making things like vegetarian meatballs and black bean burgers.
Beans are a very cheap meat substitute and can be used to make a lot of substantial dishes. In addition, dried beans do not harbor the dangerous bacteria that meat can.
As you can see, just a few changes to your shopping routine can make a difference in your monthly food budget.