It’s one of our basic needs and biggest budget busters…food. The US Department of Agriculture reports 4 different weekly spending levels for an average family of 4 with children ages 9-11 years old:
- Thrifty food plan level spends $133
- Low cost food plan level spends $173
- Moderate food plan level spends $216.60
- Liberal food plan level spends $263.40
Food costs take a big chunk out of most American’s budgets. There are ways to cut expenses on food without sacrificing the joy of eating a well cooked meal.
Plan and Organize
It might not be the most glamorous thing to do, but make a food budget, a weekly grocery list and menu. Stick with these tools and you will save money. Once you’ve decided what to eat for the week based on your menu, check your pantry before heading to the store to make sure you don’t double buy. Other tips:
- Try not to go back to the store several times during the week. Use what you have and have what you use.
- Designate the night before you grocery shop as left over night. Eat whatever was not finished off during the week. This will make cleaning the refrigerator much easier too.
- Take food with you on the run. Bring fruit, bars, water, or peanut butter and crackers with you as you run errands. This will eliminate the temptation to stop at a fast food place and spend extra money.
Coupons Really Work
According to a recent Nielsen Company survey, coupon use was up 26% for the 3rd quarter of 2009. As food prices rise, people are looking to clip coupons from the newspaper, mail and to the new trend of digital coupons to save money on food and other household items. Sites like GroceryGame claim to help save consumers up to 60% on their grocery bill using coupons, store sales, and store club cards. Though it can be time consuming, cutting and using coupons can save you a lot of money in the end.
The next time you visit a grocery store notice the generic brands that are replacing brand names items in the aisles. Generic brands are cheaper, but historically have had a reputation as being of less quality than national brands. However, Wal-Mart recently revamped and re-re-launched its generic brand Great Value. According to Wal-Mart this brand “will provide families with affordable high quality groceries and consumable options comparable to national brands.” As generic brands improve, more consumers are choosing them over national brands in a way to cut food costs.
Extra Money From Food Savings
Saving money on groceries is one of the easiest, most effective, and quickest ways to cut expenses. With a little organization, effort and experimentation, you can save a bundle on food and use that money to pay off bills, save for college, or a vacation.