The average American household spends about $700/month on groceries each month according to a Gallup Poll. While food is a necessity, you don’t have to settle for a high grocery bill if you know you truly don’t need to be spending that much.
Your family size will be the key determining factor for your grocery budget but there are many other considerations to make.
Take a look in refrigerator or kitchen cabinets. Is it stocked with food? Do you notice food waste every week or month?
If so, odds are that you can cut back on your food spending and lower your grocery bill.
My family of three has been eating well on $300 a month for a few years now. I thought our grocery spending would go up as my son got older but surprisingly it hasn’t.
With a low grocery bill each month, we’re able to use the rest of the money we save on other expenses and it doesn’t come at a huge sacrifice since we’re still eating healthy food.
If you’re looking to reduce your food spending and keep your grocery bill low, these simple strategies will help.
Plan. Plan. Plan.
Planning ahead is so important. I never step foot in a grocery store unless I have a plan and know what I intend to buy. You’ll want to make a detailed list before you go shopping and plan out some of your meals.
Check your cabinets to see what your food inventory looks like so you don’t end up buying things you already have. Each week I try to check my food inventory and move things around so they don’t go bad.
I also tend to mark lunch and dinner foods that are on my shopping list so I can tally them up and make sure I’m getting enough meals and not overdoing it at the same time.
It sounds like a lot of work, but pre-grocery store planning usually takes me 10-15 minutes per week.
Food Ingredients, Not Meals
Convenience food can be a major temptation when you’re shopping at the grocery store. Some pre-made meals look tasty and seem perfect for a busy night when you don’t have the time or energy to cook.
However, many pre-made meals and processed foods are super expensive and have unhealthy preservatives in them. In order words, it’s just a costly way to eat food that’s pretty bad for you.
As an alternative, focus on purchasing ingredients instead of pre-made meals. It’s often much cheaper to cook meats, vegetables, and seafood than it is to buy them in a box. Plus, homemade tends to taste much better.
If you prefer to not end up hovering over the stove each night, try batch cooking some meals so you can have leftovers the following days.
I prepare lots of soups, stews, and other meals in a slow cooker that lasts us several days. You can also prep and cook your meals for the entire week during the weekend so you won’t have to worry about it.
Another thing you can do to keep your grocery bill low is to price match at participating stores. Price matching is basically a practice where one store guarantees to sell particular goods at the lowest price. If you find an advertisement from another store that offers an item for less, the store will match that price and sell you the item for the price on the competitor’s ad.
I know that Walmart does price matching for food along with a few other stores, but you’ll need to check your area and ask for the store’s price matching policy.
Some stores may have restrictions regarding the location of the competing store. For example, why you might be able to show an ad for another store 20 miles away and receive a price match on a product, you won’t be able to compare prices with a store from an entirely different state.
When done correctly, price matching can really help you save money on common foods like meats and produce. All you need to do is do your research and ask.
Shop with Local Farmers
If there are farmer’s markets in your area, be sure to check out their prices and see if they can save. As an added bonus, you can score fresher food and support local farmers.
There are plenty of seasonal farm share programs where you can pre-pay your produce from local farms and pick up the food weekly. You can find programs near you by checking out Local Harvest.
It may sound like these programs are expensive upfront, but you receive several weeks worth of food and you’d be spending the same amount of money (if not more) at the grocery store each week.
Grow and Preserve Your Own Food
I don’t have much experience with this, but I know Alexa does. Now is the perfect time think about planting a garden and plan out the types of food you’d like to grow. You can get way more bang for your buck when you grow certain foods at home vs. buying them in the store.
When it comes to preserving your food, you can always try canning and start out slow. Making jam or pasta sauce can be a fun project to try out. Also, don’t forget about freezing some foods. My deep freezer was a great investment because you can freeze a ton of different foods other than just meat.
Making an Effort
These food savings strategies require a little effort on your end, but they can generate quite a bit of savings. When it comes to buying food, it always pays to be conscious about what you’re purchasing and putting on the table each day since it contributes to your overall health.
Getting your family involved with these strategies can also help make the process run smoother.
What strategies do you use to save money on groceries?