As if making ends meet in a stagnant economy isn’t bad enough, the cost of food has skyrocketed over the course of the last few years. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), a family of four with a moderate food budget could spend over $800 on groceries during a given month. That’s a lot of money, and we’re just talking a moderate budget — one that lacks all the fancy extras.
The good news is, despite the rising cost of food, it still is possible to keep your grocery budget to a minimum. Here’s how:
Keep a grocery list
Before you set foot in the store, be sure to write a thorough list of items you currently need. Without a list, it’s just too tempting to buy expensive and unhealthy foods. Thanks to a multitude of household apps, it’s easier than ever to keep an organized grocery list. Just download Grocery IQ or Green Grocer to your iPhone and write in necessary goods as they come to mind.
Shop the perimeter
The average grocery store set-up includes staples on the edges of the stores and processed foods in the center. Your money goes further with the staples, so avoid that center area like the plague! This tactic will help you save money and calories.
Pay attention to expiration dates
Americans throw away an amazing amount of food. Imagine how much money you’d save if you actually ate all the food that gets tossed out at the end of the week! Obviously, you don’t want to eat spoiled food, but you really can do yourself a favor if you prevent it from reaching that point in the first place. When you purchase and store food, pay close attention to when it’s supposed to go bad. If something is starting to approach that expiration date, consider using it up in the near future. You don’t always have to go exactly by the date on the packaging either. Manufacturers often are more careful than they need to be with expiration dates. Do the sniff test and look the food over carefully to see if it’s still edible.
Drink filtered water
Do you drink bottled water? While your commitment to hydration should be applauded, you are currently throwing away vast sums of money that could be better used elsewhere. You can have water every bit as fresh and tasty simply by installing a filtration device into your refrigerator. TLC estimates that the average family of four saves $2,878.57 by switching to filtered water from the refrigerator.
If you’ve covered all the basic and are still struggling with your grocery bill, you might want to trying clipping coupons. Joining the coupon club doesn’t mean that you have to be one of those crazy shoppers from Extreme Couponing. It simply requires looking through your newspaper once in awhile or checking your mailbox for coupons directly from your local grocery store.
Groceries may be expensive, but with a little work, you can keep those monthly food bills at a manageable level. It simply takes the addition of a few changes to your routine. And remember, the more often you ditch the restaurant and eat at home, the more money you’ll save!