Trips to the grocery store have become increasingly more expensive over the last several years. With corn and fuel prices on the rise, these trips are destined to continue to be expensive. Food purchases represent about 13 percent of the average American’s budget, and a significant portion of the variable purchases on a weekly basis. Here are a few tips to cut your next grocery bill:
Preplan your meals – I grew up with a mother that has the ability to look at a pantry full of seemingly random ingredients and somehow create a delicious feast out of thin air. Although this made for wonderful meals, it also meant having a pantry full of ingredients they may, or may not, get used. In fact, a recent study showed that the average family of 4 throws away $2,275 in food each year. Sit down before you go to the grocery store and plan out your meals for the week. This will help cut down on food waste and could save you a bundle.
Make a shopping list – Once you have preplanned your meals, make a list of everything you will need to buy at the grocery store. Be sure to add in food for snacks and other quick meals. Now here’s the kicker - when you go to the store, only buy what is on your list. Do your best to avoid buying anything not on your list. This will help to limit impulse purchases which can really add up.
Eat before you go – Shopping while hungry can cause you to purchase more food than if you go after you have eaten. I think we have all experienced being hungry in the grocery store, and walking out with a cart full of junk. If eating beforehand isn’t convenient, at least grab a quick snack so you aren’t hungry.
Skip the organic – This is a point on contention with many organic advocates. I would contend that the organic movement has been hijacked by marketing gurus of many food companies. Recent research suggests that food labeled organic may not even be healthier than non-organic food. Organic food is generally more expensive that food not labeled organic. Plus, do you really think organic potato chips are good for you? Instead of focusing on the term organic, try to buy more fruits and vegetables.
Eat at home more often – OK, so this one will actually cause your grocery bill to go up, but it will lower your overall food bill. Try to limit eating out as much as possible. Not only is it cheaper to eat at home, but it is also a lot healthier.
Food companies have become master marketers. They know how to push your buttons to get you to buy their products. Do what you can to avoid their sales pitch. Your wallet (and your health) will be thankful.
So what do you think? Are you already using any of these tips? Are they working for you? What tips would you add to the list? Be sure to share in the comments section!
Alan Moore is a fee-only financial planner and founder of Serenity Financial Consulting in Shorewood WI. Follow him on Twitter @R_Alan_Moore. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org, 414-455-5313, or visit his website at www.SerenityFC.com. Want more education? Download your free guide to the “10 Easy Steps To Secure Your Financial Future Today.”