Before You Spend

According to the USDA, the average monthly cost of food for an American family of four ranges anywhere from $600-$1200 USDA Food Plans Cost of Food at Home.  Given the rising cost of food, it is imperative to spend money wisely each time you visit the grocery store.  Below, you will find several money-saving tips to manage the rising cost of food.

Plan, Plan, Plan

Make a plan before you set foot through those automated double-doors. Whether it’s a hand-written list or the sales flyer, determine which items you need to purchase beforehand and stick to it.  It doesn’t have to be anything extensive, you can jot down a quick list before you get out of the car.

Go In To the Aisle; Look Up and Look Down

Food suppliers pay top dollar for their products to be placed where consumers are more likely to see them.  Where are these prime areas? The edge of the aisle and at eye-level.  Take a few steps to the middle of the aisle and look for items that are placed either above or below eye-level and you will find better bargains.

Shop Alone

This can be difficult if you have little ones or even an overzealous spouse :) When you are alone, you are more likely to be  focused and spend less time in the store.  The quicker you shop; the less you spend.

Do Not Shop When You Are Hungry

We have all been there– it’s 7pm, you just left the office, you are starving because you skipped lunch and you know that you need to stop by the grocery store because you have been eating sandwiches and soup for dinner for the past two days.  Shopping while hungry is a sure fire way to increase your likelihood of impulse buying.

In particular, when you are hungry, you are more likely to purchase more expensive, convenient items such as frozen meals, pre-cut fruits and vegetables, and higher calorie foods and beverages that have little to no nutritional value.  Do your wallet and your waistline a favor, keep a snack in the car to take the edge off of that hunger before heading into the store.

Plan Your Meals

Now, you don’t have to have a fancy, dancy menu board with 3 weeks worth of breakfasts, lunches, and dinners planned and posted on the fridge door, but do what you can.  Often, it helps to stock your kitchen with ingredients that you often use to prepare meals such as canned beans or other lean protein sources, dry pasta, canned soups, etc.  When these items go on sale; stock up!

Eat Your Leftovers

If you don’t like to eat the same thing more than once in a week (like I do) prepare entrees and sides that can easily be converted into another dish or prepare smaller amounts of two different dishes that require similar base ingredients. For example, prepare a basic tomato sauce which can be converted to either chili or spaghetti sauce during the week.

Eat At Home

Yes, I know we can go through the drive-thru and spend less than $5 on lunch or dinner and there is nothing wrong with eating outside the home, but it can get expensive.  If you spend $5-7 per day buying lunch, that is at least $25 per week that you are using to purchase only 5 meals (assuming that you buy lunch Monday-Friday).  All other things constant, that’s $100 per month; $1200 per year! You can stretch your dollars further by purchasing foods at the grocery store and preparing more meals at home.

I hope these tips were helpful, I’d love to hear how you manage your household food costs, please leave a comment below!