5 ways to reduce grocery bills
From my experience as a family budget advisor, grocery bills are frequently the second largest monthly expense after the mortgage or rent. Parents ask me for advice on how to consistently reduce grocery bills.
According to the USDA, a family of four, spent $1,051 during October 2016. This is considered the moderate food plan. For the more liberal food plan, families spent $1,278.
Since most households are already stretched, it might be time to figure out ways to reduce how much you are spending on your grocery bills. Here are five steps to help you:
1. Take an inventory of your pantry, freezer, and refrigerator.
Before you begin, know what you already have on hand. Boxed, canned, and frozen food all have expiration or best if used by dates.
Make a list by category and by expiration date. Make headings like: starches, sauces, and proteins. Then based upon these headings you can make a full meal. For example, rice and beans or pasta and spaghetti sauce; add a salad and you’ve got two meals.
Another idea is to have a family contest on who can be the most original in preparing meals with food already in your pantry, freezers, and refrigerators.
2. Make weekly meal plans.
Write on a calendar the meals you intend to make for the week. Keep in mind items that may be expiring and items in season or on sale at the grocery store. Use the list you made in step one.
Variety can be the spice of life, but it can also cause extra work in our already busy lives. Some families have a set menu for certain nights. Examples are Pasta Mondays, Meatball Tuesdays, Salad Wednesdays, Pizza Fridays.
A few rotating favorite meals are also a way to help reduce your grocery bills. If you are always purchasing the same items,then you can buy in bulk, on sale, and with coupons. All great ways to lower your cost.
3. Always make a list.
This is very important. Knowing exactly what ingredients you need to prepare your meals. Buying food that you are not going consume will be thrown away. You might as well toss dollar bills into the garbage.
Having a list and sticking to it can also make shorten the time at the grocery store. If you regularly shop at the same market, put your list in order of the aisles. A quick tip is that the healthier foods, i.e. fresh foods are at the edges of the store.
4. Do your best to buy grocery items you regularly use only on sale.
Keep a journal of the few items you regularly consume. Many have sale cycles and buy enough to have on-hand until the next sale.
Manufacturers regularly have sales and have rotating cycles. This week your favorite cereal may not be on sale, but wait a week or so and it will be on sale.
5. Stack coupons (manufacturer’s and store coupon).
Use coupons for your regularly used items. Avoid buying anything just because you have a coupon.
When comparing the cost of sizes, do not always reach for the largest size. At first this may feel counter-intuitive. It did for me. Purchasing the smaller size with manufacturer’s and store coupon can sometimes mean buying an item for pennies.
In summary, buying groceries is a necessity, it should not drain you financially. A few simple changes in habits can help reduce grocery bills.
What other strategies are you using to reduce your grocery bill?
The post “Reduce grocery bills” first appeared on NJMoneyCoach.