Even when you feel like you’re barely keeping your head above water, it is possible to make some more wiggle room by going over your bills and seeing where you can reduce costs with little sacrifice. Today I’m going over reducing your food bill (besides using coupons, of course).
1. Make a grocery list/Meal plan: Make a list and stick to it! Keep those impulse buys to a minimum. If you go to the store without a list, you’re setting yourself up for failure. As for meal plans, I’m not talking about elaborate meals here, I make very simple meals for my family.
You might like trying out a theme for each week (like Pasta Monday, Sandwich Tuesday, Mexican Wednesday, Vegetarian Thursday, etc). Or just make a list of a few days worth of dinners and buy the ingredients in advance. This way you’re not running to the store every night. The less you hit up the grocery store, the better. For example, I try to go no more than once a week.
2. Try out generic brands: Chances are, it will taste the same, if not pretty similar, to name brand. If you don’t like it you don’t have to buy it again! Also, if you are lucky enough to have an Aldi near you, they will change your life! They are a discount grocer and I absolutely love them.
At first I was very hesitant to try Aldi out…they sell only their own brand, you won’t find any name brand items there. I envisioned a dimly lit dirty store, dented cans and old bread, and just sketchiness all around. Wow, was I surprised when I finally checked them out! The store was immaculately clean, it was calm and quiet (such a nice change of pace from Walmart), the cashiers were super friendly, and an entire cart of groceries cost me around $50 bucks. I compared the receipt later to what I would have paid for the same items at Walmart, and there was a $48 dollar difference, people!! From just one trip! (By the way, this is not a paid endorsement, I just freakin’ love Aldi!)
3. Buying in advance and having a stockpile: You don’t need to have a stockpile that takes over your house or anything like that. The idea of buying in advance is to buy things when they are at their rock-bottom price, and you buy what you need to get you through until the next sale for that item. Items typically go on sale every 2-3 months, so get enough to last your family for that period.
4. Price-match: A lot of stores will price match a competitor’s ad for you. Even better, you can use coupons on top of the price match! If it seems a little daunting, just try price matching one item next time you go shopping. For example, Aldi’s fresh produce is sometimes hit or miss, but you can’t beat the prices. The other week I price-matched their pineapple at Walmart and got it for $0.99!!
5. Check unit prices: The bigger size isn’t necessarily always the better deal. Compare the unit prices, which are usually on the hanging price tag on the shelf, before you buy.
6. Aim for spending $20 a week, per person in your house: Some people might think this number is ridiculously low, so if it seems way out of reach for you, check out your bank statement from the last few months and see what you’re spending on food. If you’re not happy with what you’re spending, make a goal to spend 3/4 of that amount. If you have 4 people in your house, aim for around $320 a month on food, and with mastering the drugstore deals, you should be able to include household items and toiletries in that amount as well.
7. Limit the times you eat meat as the main course: We aren’t huge meat eaters, so this isn’t a problem for us. I will often incorporate meat into a dish rather than it be a main component. Not only does this save a lot of money, it’s also healthier for you, anyway!
8. Eat those leftovers!: Eat them for lunch the next day, take them to work, save them for ‘leftovers night’ where all the leftovers are taken out and eaten for dinner.
9. Buy what’s in season: Buying produce when it’s in season is a win-win situation. It’s cheaper and it tastes better! I am to spend no more than $0.99 per pound on in-season produce.
10. Limit your beverage purchases: I don’t regularly buy soda or juice, but do what works for your family! If you know you’re drinking too much soda, try to cut back on the frequency with which you buy it. If your kids love juice, try to dilute it a little bit to make it stretch further. If you do it gradually, they’ll be none the wiser.
11. Find out when your store marks down items: Our grocery store often has a ton of marked down bread from the bakery that was baked just the day before. I can often get it half off, and it will be fine if I plan to use it that day or the next. Extra lean ground beef was marked down because they had too much of it, and there was nothing wrong with it!
12. Limit your fast food and restaurant purchases: That $5 lunch or Starbucks drink adds up very quickly, even though it doesn’t seem like much. If you plan on going out to eat, check to see if the restaurant has an email rewards club and you can often snag a B1G1 entree, free dessert, etc!
Remember, this is what works for our family. Please don’t feel you have to use all these tips, do what works for you!
How do you reduce your food bill? I’d love to hear from you!