Depending on your family size, the food budget may be a huge portion of the monthly expenses, especially if you have a large family trying to keep them fed and the refrigerator and pantry stocked at all times. Every dollar that you can free up can go towards other important areas such as paying off debt or saving for your future. No matter where you’re at in your career, whether you are starting out or getting close to retirement, you want to maximize what you can save so that you will have ample funds to live off during your golden years. To free up some extra money each month, try tweaking a few things to lower your food expenses.
Limit Going Out to Eat
I know, this will be a hard one, to stop going out to eat. By the time we grab a coffee in the morning, a quick lunch, and pick up dinner on the way home, although they may be low in cost, they will definitely add up over the course of the week, let alone a month. Throw in going out to eat at a restaurant, and now you are talking some serious money each month on food. If you can limit going out to eat to maybe once a weekend and on special occasions and primarily focus on what you have at home to have for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, you will really see the savings add up quickly.
Make a Grocery Shopping List (and Stick to It)
When you do decide to head out to the store, it is best to be prepared. Make a list of everything for the week so you can prepare in advance, and when you get to the store, do your best to actually stick to the grocery list. It can be overwhelming to go to the grocery store with all of the aisles and, well, good food, that it can be easy to stray off of your list and start to fill the cart with impulse purchases.
Eat Before You Shop
If you want to really avoid impulse purchases, go grocery shopping on a full stomach by doing yourself a favor and eating at home so you don’t go to the store hungry. Hungry and grocery shopping is never a good mix because you will start to fill the cart with everything that sounds good that you want to eat, and let’s face it, when you’re hungry just about everything sounds good. Eat a full meal at home first so you can hit the shopping with a clear mind and stay focus to the task at hand, which is get in and get out.
Coupons are Still Accepted
Depending on your age you probably remember when you were young, your mom clipping coupons out of the Sunday paper, or maybe you still do that, and that is still perfectly acceptable. Unfortunately, the newspaper subscriptions are dying off and in the digital age, also come digital coupons as well. You can now go to the grocery store’s website and load coupons directly to your shopper’s reward card that will be taken off when you put in your phone number to activate your card at checkout and can see the total come down.
Avoid the Weekend Crowds
Why fight the crowds for a parking spot, in search of picked over groceries, of which you have to try and maneuver your way through the aisle only to have people leave their cart in the middle that gets you frustrated to the point where you knock the cart out of the way. If you go during the week, say mid-week, after the after-work crowd, you will hardly see a soul in the store, so you can get in and get out, not to mention take advantage of more sale items that stores will put on sale after the weekend crowds are gone, after all, why have huge sales on the weekends when the store will be packed anyways.
Stick to the Fresh Items
I have often heard that when you go grocery shopping you should stick to the perimeter of the store, which typically includes the fresh items – produce, meat, and dairy, where you can prepare fresh meals. Once you start going up and down each item, not to mention the frozen food section, is where you start to buy items that are not necessary, only to stock up on items that look good at the time. If they’re not on your list, skip them!