Raise your hand if you’ve ever looked for ways to trim your grocery budget. Keep it raised if figuring out how to reduce your grocery bill is a source of constant stress. We feel you. In these tough economic times, we're all looking for ways to save money and do more with less. Shopping for groceries on a budget has always been tough, but with inflation on the rise, it’s getting even tougher. Food prices have been steadily rising for the last couple of years, but there are still plenty of ways to save money on groceries without sacrificing quality or quantity. Where We Waste Our Money The Most On Food (H2)
Where We Waste Our Money The Most On Food
Before you learn how to reduce your grocery bill, let’s look at where people waste the most money on groceries. Americans spend $2,275 every year on average on food that is wasted. The website Statista analyzed data from the United States Department of Agriculture and found that the top five foods Americans waste the most money on are:
Meat can be expensive, so if you want to save money on your groceries, start by looking for less expensive cuts of meat. If you’re using meat in a recipe, consider buying a frozen or canned version of the meat you need. Shelf-stable options like freeze-dried beef or chicken can be great to have on hand as emergency food storage, but they can also be used in everyday recipes too. The great thing about frozen or canned options is that they last a lot longer, so you are more likely to use them before they expire.
Nothing says living on the edge like drinking milk beyond the carton’s printed expiration date. If you’ve ever done the sniff test on a gallon of milk, you know what we’re talking about. The fact is, the expiration date on dairy products is a guess. While it’s possible for them to go bad before the date, the reality is that many last beyond it. The problem is that most of us don’t want to risk it, and would rather toss it, just to be safe. This waste isn’t just bad for the environment, but it hurts your grocery budget too. As for cheese, it freezes well, so there’s no excuse for letting it go bad. If you buy a big block of cheese and aren’t sure you’ll use it all, cut it up and freeze some of it to keep it from turning into penicillin.
Speaking of throwing away money, produce is probably the worst offender in this regard. We’re all guilty of buying produce with the best of intentions. We want to eat healthy and get our fruits and veggies in, but the next thing we know, life gets in the way and the once bright yellow bananas are now covered in brown spots. Because produce goes bad quickly, we often forget about it, or simply don’t get to it in time and are forced to throw it out.
A lot of money gets spent on bread and grain products that ultimately go moldy before they are consumed. What people often don’t know is that bread freezes really well. This is especially true of bread you plan on using for toast. If you’re afraid your bread, bagels, or rolls are reaching the end of their shelf life, toss them in the freezer until you’re ready to use them. It’s an easy way to trim your grocery budget and prevent food waste.
5. Prepared Foods
While super convenient, prepared foods cost more than their raw ingredient counterparts. For example, you’ll save money on groceries if you’re willing to boil pasta and open a jar of sauce, as opposed to buying a prepared pasta dish. The closer a food is to its finished, or consumable state, the more it will cost you.
Ways To Trim Your Grocery Budget
Food waste isn’t the only battle your grocery budget is facing. If it seems like everything costs more these days, it’s probably because everything does, in fact, cost more these days. In some regions, grocery prices have risen by as much as 30% in just one year. The reason is simple: inflation. And with a forecast of even higher inflation rates in the next year, it's never been more important to get creative with your food shopping and find ways to trim your grocery budget. Here are some tips to help you learn how to cut grocery bill totals while still feeding your family.
1. Compare Prices Between Stores Before Making Purchases
One of the smartest ways to trim your grocery budget is to compare prices between stores before making purchases. If you have the time, check the circulars or visit a few different stores in your area and make note of where you can get the best prices on the items you need. This strategy requires a little more leg work in the beginning, but it can help you save money on food budgets in the long run as you plan your shopping trips for the things you buy on a regular basis.
2. Clip Coupons And Use Them When You Can
Another great way to trim your grocery budget is by clipping coupons and using them when you can. Yes, couponing. It may seem old-fashioned and outdated, but coupon clipping has come a long way. There are a number of websites and apps that make it easy to find coupons for the products you buy most often. There are even passionate couponing gurus who are willing to help you learn how to grocery shop using coupons.
Even if you’re not into couponing, you can still save money on groceries by taking advantage of sales. Most grocery stores offer weekly sales, and it's important to take advantage of them. The easiest way is to make a list of the items you need and use ads or circulars to compare the prices at different stores before going shopping.
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3. Buy In Bulk When Items Are On Sale
While you’re shopping the sales, keep your eyes peeled for sales on the things you buy regularly. You can easily trim your grocery budget by buying items in bulk when they are on sale. Sales are a great time to stock up on pantry staples like grains, pasta, and canned goods. Keeping a well-stocked pantry is important for emergency situations, and buying bulk food storage options of pantry staples can also cut down on grocery spending as you use and rotate through them regularly.
An important thing to remember is that the fact that something is on sale doesn’t justify buying it. It’s only a good deal if you will actually use it. Otherwise, you’re just wasting money on food that will take up space in your kitchen and then ultimately end up in the trash.
4. Plan Your Meals Ahead Of Time To Avoid Buying Unnecessary Items
Planning your meals ahead of time is essential to buying groceries on a budget. If you have a plan for what you're going to cook each night, you won't be as tempted to answer the siren call of the endcap and checkout line displays and buy last-minute items you may not need. As an added bonus, planning your meals can help you stay on track with your healthy eating goals.
5. Don't Shop When You're Hungry
Never shop on an empty stomach! If there were a Grocery Shopping 101 course, that would be the first lesson. When you shop on an empty stomach, you're more likely to buy impulsively and purchase items you don't need. I’m looking at you, ice cream and cookie aisles. Make a point to grocery shop when you've already had a meal, so you can make smart decisions about what to buy.
6. Create a Grocery Shopping List and Stick to It
Not to sound like a broken grocery cart or anything, but a shopping list is your best friend when it comes to learning how to trim your grocery budget. A grocery list helps you stay accountable and avoid buying unnecessary items. When you have a list of the groceries you need, it’s easier to stay focused and avoid purchasing shiny packages that catch your eye.
7. Cook At Home Instead Of Eating Out
If you’re someone who includes take-out and eating at restaurants as part of your grocery budget, then cooking at home is an easy way to save money on your food budget. Restaurant meals can be expensive, especially if you’re feeding a family. By cooking at home, you can save a lot of money and customize your food to your own tastes.
Cooking at home is not only cheaper than eating out, but it’s also healthier. Restaurant meals are typically high in calories and unhealthy fats, while homemade meals can be tailored to your own specific dietary needs. Plus, cooking is a great skill to have and can be a fun way to spend time with your family or friends.
Anyone Can Learn To Save On Grocery Shopping
Saving money on food and learning to trim your grocery budget isn’t rocket science, but it does take some time to implement and get used to new ways of doing things. After you make it through the learning curve though, the payoff is worth it! Now that we’ve shared some of our favorite ways to buy groceries on a budget, try some of them out, and find what works best for your own budget and lifestyle. With a little effort, you can start saving big on your grocery bill every month.
What are some of your favorite tips for saving money on groceries?