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How to Save on Groceries and Food

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How much is your average monthly grocery bill? $300? $600? $1,000? Americans spent enormous sums of money on groceries and other food purchases. According to a 2012 report from NPR, the average American family spends 8.6 percent of their household budget on groceries and another 5.7 percent on food from restaurants and deli’s. That means 14.3 percent of our income goes towards food.

And most people aren’t dining at the Ritz-Carlton restaurant; they’re cooking some stir-fry at home on Saturday night. Home cooking sounds like a frugal activity, but it adds up to thousands per year.

Yet we all have to eat. So how can we trim our grocery budget? Here are a few tips.

#1: Shop according to the season. Shopping when fruits and vegetables are in season radically reduces the cost of your food bill. It also enhances the freshness and quality of the food you are eating. Research what foods are in season and purchase accordingly.

#2: Buy in bulk. Buying in bulk helps you get the deals you wouldn’t normally. For example, many local grocery stores offer “10 for $10” sales on some of your favorite non-perishable or canned food items. Take advantage of these sales by buying in bulk. (Tip: some stores don’t actually make you buy 10 items. They’ll give you 1 for $1. Other stores, however, enforce the bulk-buy advertisement. Find out what your local store’s policies are.)

#3: Use coupons. You don’t have to be an extreme couponer to save money on your food bill. Sensible coupons that apply to items you were already going to purchase can save you hundreds of dollars on your food bill. Do your research before you head out the door and take those coupons with you.

#4: Buy only what you need. Many people have the habit of buying tons of food every time they go to the grocery store only to end up throwing out half of it. Instead of purchasing an item simply because it is on sale, plan out your grocery list ahead of time and stick to it. This will save you both time and money because you won’t be picking up various food items you didn’t plan on buying.

#5: Take your lunch instead of buying it. Plan out your daily lunch meals ahead of time. The average person spends around $8 for lunch. You can cut that in half if you bring food from home for your lunch break.

#6: Buy basic staples. Buying food in its most basic form, or before it has been cooked, is one of the easiest ways to save money on your food bill. The price of cooked and canned beans, for example, is much higher than the price of raw beans. Look for all your food in its basic form — before being processed  — and watch your budget improve dramatically.

#7 Don’t be fooled by brands. Most grocery stores offer the same ingredients as the big guys but at a significantly lower price tag. Instead of only buying brand name items, cut your budget by purchasing the off brand product and make the sacrifice. Remember that you’re really only purchasing the name not a big difference in the product.

#8: Cut out the fast food. You may think you are saving money by buying fast food, but that really isn’t true. Fast food is not only nutritiously devoid, it has a high mark up value. The average fast food meal is around $4 to $8, but the pay off at eating at home is consuming food you already have versus spending extra money on food that is garbage in the first place.

Kennedi writes about healthy living for less at Face & Fitness.

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AUTHOR Derek

My name is Derek, and I have my Bachelors Degree in Finance from Grand Valley State University. After graduation, I was not able to find a job that fully utilized my degree, but I still had a passion for Finance! So, I decided to focus my passion in the stock market. I studied Cash Flows, Balance Sheets, and Income Statements, put some money into the market and saw a good return on my investment. As satisfying as this was, I still felt that something was missing. I have a passion for Finance, but I also have a passion for people. If you have a willingness to learn, I will continue to teach.

4 Comments

  1. I totally agree with you in everything, especially the last tip about fast food. Fast food meals are really unhealthy and they cost more, so cooking your food at home is the way to go.

    • Absolutely. I remember when I was in college, earning roughly minimum wage, fast-food menu prices always looked expensive. But when I remarked on that, people would laugh (‘haha, fast food is expensive?’). Even now that I make much more, I still think it’s pricey.

  2. “Shop according to the season” is why I like the summer. All the fresh fruits like berries, peaches, apricots, plums, and more are in season and available from local growers at the farmer’s market. Winter has apples, cabbages, carrots, celery, and things that I tire of more quickly.

    The rest of your tips are good, too.

    • Summer is GREAT for buying in-season produce! I also like the clementine oranges that are in-season in spring. Yes, winter is tough … lots of squash and pumpkin.


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