For the month of April, we will be bringing you daily posts centered on our personal finances – saving, making and managing our money.
Food is one of the necessities in life. It’s also something that most of us spend entirely too much money on. Even those who think they’re doing well when they do their grocery shopping are often paying more than they need to for their families’ food.
By following a few simple rules, you can greatly reduce your weekly food bill. Here they are:
Avoid eating out. This, right here, is a struggle for me. Going to restaurants is enjoyable, and it’s easier than cooking for ourselves. But it’s also very expensive compared to eating at home. While there’s nothing wrong with enjoying an occasional meal at a restaurant, most of us do so entirely too much. Cooking at home is much more cost effective.
Cook from scratch as much as possible. Few of us have the time to bake all of our own bread or make all of our own snacks. But by using more raw ingredients and less prepackaged foods, we can save a great deal of money. And freshly cooked food tastes much better and is more nutritious than prepackaged items, so your family will thank you for it.
When shopping, make sure you’re getting the best possible deal on each item. Figure up the per-unit cost of each package of everything you buy. For instance, when buying juice, divide the price by the number of ounces in the bottle to determine the price per ounce. This will tell you which size bottle is the best deal. Also, utilizing resources to price match, do coupon match-ups and find cash back options will help to save the most while shopping. My favorite apps are for cash back from grocery shopping are Ibotta and Checkout 51. Also, check with your favorite stores to see if they have cash-saving applications, too.
Don’t rule out store brands. For the most part, they are of comparable quality to national brands but priced much lower. Give them a chance, and you might find that you like them just as well.
Comparison shop. Comparing prices at different supermarkets could save you a surprising amount on your grocery bill. But don’t drive all over town every time you go shopping. That will cost you more in gas than it will save you. Find the store that consistently has the lowest prices on most of the things you buy, and stick with it unless you hear about a great deal on something you use a lot of at another store.
Shop wisely for produce. Buy fruits and vegetables that are in season, because they are much less expensive than those that are out of season. And buy from the local farmer’s market or co-op if possible. Their produce is usually significantly cheaper since it is grown locally and doesn’t have to be transported far.
Use coupons wisely. Coupons can save you lots of money, but you’re better off not using them if they are for something that you would not normally buy. Clip only coupons for items that you would buy even if you didn’t have a coupon.
Go shopping in the right frame of mind. Eat before going to the store so you will be less likely to make impulse buys, and leave the kids at home or with a sitter if possible. This way you can focus on buying only what you truly need.