Grocery Money Saving Ideas: Secrets of Savvy Food Shoppers
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, food expenditures for families in the United States dropped five percent in recent years, the largest decrease in over 25 years. Many families have tightened their belts in response to uncertain economic times, but the average family still spends over $6,440 annually on groceries. If you’d like to whittle your grocery bill down — and who wouldn’t? — read on for secrets from the pros.
Plan meals around sales fliers
Before you ever head off to the grocery store, read through the weekly sales flier. Plan meals based on what’s on sale. If there’s a killer sale on ground beef, plan tacos, spaghetti or sloppy joes. Make a detailed grocery list of what you need and try to stick to the list.
Use staples as the foundation for meals
Meat is usually the costliest item on your grocery list, but you can whittle those costs by changing your meal style. Instead of serving meat as a main course, add meat to green salads, casseroles and soups. Start with brown rice, whole-grain pasta, quinoa or dried beans, and add meat, fresh vegetables and seasonings for delicious, healthy and inexpensive meals.
If you’ve never used coupons before, give it a try. Online, mailbox and newspaper coupons, such as those found on Valpak, can offer substantial savings, especially when combined with current grocery store specials.
Allot a certain percentage of your food budget every week to stocking up on sales items. For example, when spaghetti sauce goes on sale for 99 cents, buy enough for at least three months, which is how long it will likely be before the sauce goes on sale again. Over time, your pantry supply will grow and you can allot more and more of your weekly budget to stock up items. Avoid paying full price whenever possible.
Set price limits in your mind
Keep track of lowest and highest prices for items you regularly purchase and determine ahead of time the absolute most you’ll spend for something. A good buy on meat, for example, is around $1.50 to $2 per pound, depending on where you live. Don’t buy cuts that cost more than, say, $2.50 per pound.
Buy produce in season
Those peaches in January may look tempting, but at $3 per pound, they’re hardly a bargain. And, chances are, they’ll taste mealy and flavorless because they were shipped from halfway around the world. Buy fruit when it appears naturally in your area and you’ll always get the best prices and the best quality.