Your grocery bill usually takes up a big portion of your paycheck, regardless of how many you’re feeding. The Bureau of Labor Statistics found that food is the third-largest household expense, with the average grocery bill for a family of four being around $600 for the thrifty and over $1,300 for those with a bigger budget.
As a household of two, we have a very strict grocery budget. If we go over too early in the month, we are left eating out of our pantry until the end of the month. While eating from the pantry is a great exercise, it’s definitely not something I would consider to be fun, especially when it is unplanned. Between our pantry and freezer, we could get by, but we wouldn’t be eating our best meals.
Tips to Save
Here are a few tips that will help you reduce your monthly spending by as much as 25%. Some of these are simple, but easy to forget. With a little careful planning, and using as many of these tips as possible, you’ll definitely notice a positive impact on your grocery budget.
- Focus on sale items. Your grocery list should always include at least a few sale items. Build your weekly meals around what is on sale.
- Eat before shopping. Hunger causes a loss of self-control, leaving you vulnerable to impulse buying. Do yourself, and your wallet, a favor; have a snack before you go shopping.
- Look first, and then plan. Review the weekly specials, add sale items to your list then look for some recipes you can prepare with these items. By finding sale items first and planning your meals around them, you will save money and avoid buying expensive ingredients that you may only need one time.
- If it’s on sale, stock up! Stocking up on sale items is a good idea, especially canned, frozen or packaged foods. By stocking up on canned or frozen vegetables, rice and pasta, you’ll always have sides in your pantry. You can stock up on meats as well and freeze them. If you stock up on sale items regularly, you can usually find a last minute dinner idea right in your freezer or pantry without having to go to the store.
- Plan several meals. Cook once, but eat several times. For instance, a roast chicken makes a great family dinner, but the leftover meat can be used for chicken salad or added to soup for lunch. By cooking once but making at least two meals, you will save both time and money. I’m a big fan of the ALDI meal plans from Lauren Greutman, which can get your 20 meals for $150 easily!
- Purchase store brands. In most cases, store brands are equal in quality and quantity to name brand products. They are just a lot less expensive. In fact, they are often the EXACT same product with a different label. You can save big by choosing the store brand.
- Don’t forget to use your rewards card. Most grocery stores offer a rewards card that will save you money and even offer special coupons. If your store is one of them, make sure you get a card. It will save you bunches.
The Bigger Picture
Saving on groceries can give your budget a boost. You can even make a game of it, challenging yourself to get better and better deals. But the bigger picture is your overall financial health. Groceries are just one aspect of a healthy budget, so you’ll want to give attention to your other spending, too. Be sure to check out Clearpoint’s budget calculator to evaluate where you stand and make a plan for moving forward.