Save Money on Groceries
The average household in the United States spends over $4,000 per year on groceries, amounting to $330 per month. With food prices on the rise, many families struggle to fit groceries into their budget.
Fortunately, there are many ways to cut down your grocery bill without sacrificing nutrition or variety. With some planning and smart shopping, you can easily save $50-150 each month on your groceries.
What is the average grocery bill in the United States?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American household spends $4,643 per year on groceries. This breaks down to about $387 per month for a family.
However, this number can vary greatly depending on household size, location, shopping habits, and types of foods purchased. For example, the monthly grocery bill for a single person may only be $200, while a family of four may spend over $600. The good news is that no matter what your grocery budget is, there are always ways to save money.
Why is it important to save money on groceries?
Saving money on groceries is important for several reasons. First, groceries make up a significant portion of most families’ budgets. Any savings here can free up cash for other expenses or goals.
Second, food prices have been rising steadily in recent years, so cutting grocery costs helps counter inflation. Finally, being smart about your grocery shopping means you can buy the same foods you enjoy while spending less. This allows you to stick to your budget and have money left over for other fun things.
What are some of the challenges of saving money on groceries?
Saving money on groceries can be tricky for several reasons. First, there is the challenge of changing ingrained shopping habits. It takes time and discipline to alter your routines.
Second, brands and stores use clever marketing and promotions to entice you to spend more. Resisting temptation and making rational choices takes effort. Third, buying in bulk and shopping sales require strategic planning and storage space.
And finally, accessing discount grocers or produce requires reliable transportation. While saving money on groceries has challenges, a bit of planning and preparation can help you overcome them.
Tips for Saving Money on Groceries
Here are some proven tips for spending less at the supermarket without feeling deprived:
Make a list and stick to it. A detailed grocery list is essential for controlling costs. Planning meals and making an itemized list prevents buying extras you don’t need. Sticking closely to your list curbs impulse purchases that blow budgets. Cross items off as you go to avoid doubling up. A list also helps you get in and out of the store faster.
Buy generic brands when possible. Opting for store brand or generic labeled items provides significant savings, upwards of 30% over national brands. Generic staples like canned goods, spices, pasta, cereal, and more are virtually identical in quality for less money. Try various generic options to find the ones your family likes. Soon it will become a habit to choose store brands.
Shop around for the best prices. Food prices can vary widely between grocery chains. Checking weekly flyers and ads for regular and sale prices allows you to plan where to find bargains. Make a list of the lowest-priced options at each store. For staples you buy often, note unit pricing on shelf tags to find true cost comparisons between sizes, brands, and stores.
Take advantage of coupons and sales. Coupons, whether from newspaper inserts, apps, or online sites can lead to big savings when stacked with sales. Check store policies for doubling or combining coupons to maximize value. Stock up on non-perishables when greatly reduced or free with coupons. Sales paired with coupons on meat, produce or dairy offer huge discounts. Just stay focused on buying what you really need and use.
Cook at home more often. Cooking at home allows you to control ingredients, portions, and costs in a way that eating out does not. Preparing basic meals in bulk on weekends and reheating throughout the week saves time and money. Simple, nutritious recipes made from inexpensive ingredients stretch your budget. Get creative with common pantry staples like beans, eggs, pasta, and frozen vegetables to keep meal costs low.
Plan your meals ahead of time. Planning weekly meals ahead of shopping saves money by reducing impulse purchases. Check for recipes that use overlapping ingredients to minimize waste. Make a detailed list for each recipe. Stick closely to your list without throwing in extras. Buy only the meats, produce, and ingredients needed for planned meals. Proper portion planning also prevents spoilage.
Use leftovers creatively. Stretch your leftovers into new meals later in the week. For example, extra chicken can go into casseroles, sandwiches, pasta dishes, or soup. Leftover vegetables make great fried rice or omelets. Baked goods like pieces of bread can become croutons, while wilted produce is perfect for smoothies. This creative recycling makes good use of what you have.
Freeze food for later. Freezing perishable foods prevents waste and saves money. Portion meat before freezing for easy defrosting. Freeze bread, baked goods, fruits, vegetables, and herbs for months of use. Frozen banana works great in smoothies. Label containers with contents and dates. Use the oldest items first when cooking.
Shop at discount grocery stores. Discount grocery stores offer significant savings over traditional supermarkets. Stores like Aldi and WinCo have cheaper private-label options for pantry staples. They also run regular promotions and “special buy” deals. Shopping at these stores regularly can easily save $20 or more per grocery trip.
Grow your own food. Gardening provides exercise plus near-free produce. Herbs, tomatoes, greens, beans, carrots, peppers and more can be grown in small spaces. Initial investments in seeds, soil, and containers pay off all season. Homegrown ingredients are the cheapest way to add fresh produce to meals. Plus you control growing methods.
Eat before you go shopping. Shopping while hungry leads to impulse buy. Have a snack to satisfy cravings.
Shop with a friend or family member. You can help each other stay on budget and resist temptations.
Be mindful of your spending. Track your grocery receipts and analyze where your money goes. Identify problem areas.
Cutting down your grocery bill takes effort but yields big rewards. Start implementing a few money-saving tips each trip to the store. Over time, you will notice the savings really add up. With planning, smart shopping, and budget-conscious meal preparation, you can trim $50-100 off your monthly grocery spending. That freed-up cash flow allows you to pay down debt, bulk up savings, or have extra fun. Check out here for more tips and guide about saving budgets, and personal finance growth.