Groceries seem to always be a sticking point in family budgets. You’ve got to have food, no question about it, but most of us could go a long way toward trimming our grocery budget. In 2009, the Bureau of Labor statistics published the results of their consumer spending survey, and found that on average, Americans spend 13% of our gross yearly income on groceries. That works out to about $6,443 per year just on food. To break that down, that means we’re looking at a cool $536 per month.
It surely has to be at least a little bit trimmable, don’t you think?
I say yes. While halving that figure for a family of four might be a bit on the impossible side, particularly if you’ve got a couple of hungry teenagers taking up space and raiding the fridge every ten minutes, but you should realistically expect to be able to cut 25% of that bill for your family, and you can use the following tips to make it happen!
1. The figure as quoted by the BLS includes trips to restaurants and take-out places, as well as trips to the grocery store. The average figure for us is $2,505 per year for eating out. This includes lunches, dinners and breakfasts, so an easy way to slash a big chunk of your grocery budget is to simply eat out less often! Try crock pot cooking to ensure things are ready as soon as you get home from work, or make some freezer casserole meals on weekends that you can just throw in the oven and have ready quickly.
2. There’s something to be said for having the same thing through the month, and having the leftovers the next day. Foods like soups and stews, roasts and casseroles are all excellent options for leftover enjoyment, and they’re usually always a big hit for families, meaning that you can have them more than once or twice per month without the usual grumbling. Particularly in the case of roasts, it pays to buy in bulk, and then have sandwiches the next day!
3. Buy in bulk, and you’ll save, but make sure you pay attention when you do. Sometimes, a sale price on a smaller net weight item gives it a lower per-serving cost than the traditionally cheaper bulk items, particularly in regular grocery stores. This isn’t usually the case with price clubs, but in this case, you’ll be doing yourself a favor to shop around before you jump into the bulk-buying fray. Another tip? Even if you buy bulk meats, you can usually have them cut to order by your grocery store’s butcher department free of charge!
4. Use coupons where you can, and track sales regularly for items that you have to stock up on. Keep a particularly keen eye out for higher-priced foods like peanut butter and breakfast cereals. Stores and manufacturers will often price these at bargain levels to get you into the store, where other items you may need or want will not be on sale. As for coupons, you can double-dip on these sale days by using coupons in addition to the sale price. For instance, a two for one sale with a doubled 35-cent coupon could bring the price of a previously $2.75 can of peanut butter down to 62 cents. Keep an eye out for these doubling opportunities, and you’ll save a small fortune over the course of a year!
It isn’t always easy to save at the grocery store, but if you plan your attack carefully, you can slash your grocery budget and save yourself hundreds of dollars per year!