Unless you’re a professional farmer, a prolific gardener with time to spare or a close friend of both, you buy most (or all) of your food.
If you’re like most people, a significant portion of your income goes toward food: regular trips to the grocery store, meals out at restaurants, fast food, impulsive snack purchases … it’s so easy to overspend on food every week.
But it doesn’t have to be this way.
Get your food budget under control now and into the future with these cost-saving tips.
1) Plan Every Meal
Weekly and monthly meal planning helps keep your food budget under control by allowing you to plot out what you’ll eat, thus eliminating needless spends at the grocery store, unscheduled meals out and uneaten food going to waste.
On Sunday, try making a list of every meal you’ll need for the coming week, and then look through your collection of recipes or online to make a plan. When you start the week with a meal plan, you avoid impromptu restaurant meals or grocery store trips where you haphazardly buy whatever looks good because you don’t know what’s for dinner.
2) Shop With A Mission
We all know it’s dangerous to walk into the grocery store hungry. But to cut down your food budget, you should also never go to the supermarket without a shopping list. Without a list (and the willpower to stick to it), you’re more prone to pick up some of the most expensive items at the supermarket: pre-made, single-serve meals from the hot counter or freezer section.
While these meals are often delicious and convenient, feeding your entire family with pre-made foods gets expensive fast.
After you’ve made your weekly meal plan, take stock of what you have on hand and the ingredients you’ll need to make the recipes on your list. Stick to your list. If you walk past the pre-made food counter and see something you want, make a mental note of what it is and research how to make it at home.
3) Know Your Grocery Store Psychology
There’s a whole consumer psychology behind the way grocery stores are organized. The items people buy most often are usually stocked far from the entrance, tempting impulse buys as you to walk through much of the store. Items that provoke your senses are usually arranged near the store entrance so you’re enticed to spend money on items that weren’t on your list.
Take some time to learn the various tactics supermarkets use to condition you to spend more. When you’re aware of how supermarkets are designed to get you to spend your money, you’ll go into the store prepared to beat grocers at their own game.
4) Cook In Bulk
Smart meal planning, complemented by bulk shopping and cooking, is a great way to cut your grocery budget and spend less time at the supermarket.
Try cooking a giant pot of soup or chili with ingredients you’ve bought in bulk, such as a large package of ground beef.
This supersized batch of goodness can be incorporated into a monthly meal plan by freezing what you don’t plan to eat today for use later in the month, thus earning you a meal or two down the road and dollars off your next grocery bill.
5) Stock Your Freezer
For busy families looking to eat healthy and save money by lowering their regular grocery bills, the freezer is your best friend.
Not only can you freeze leftovers and unused ingredients to enjoy later, stocking your freezer with individually wrapped cuts of meat is a great way to plan, portion and prepare meals in advance.
Try filling your freezer with a variety of high-quality meats, such as Certified Angus Beef, chicken breasts, pork loin and more. Buying these meats frozen ensures that you’ll always have what you need on hand. Even better, try finding them in individually packaged portions for added convenience.