What we spend on food, especially depending on the size of the family, can really put a dent into our available funds for the month. Sure, little things like grabbing coffee, stopping at the gas station for snacks or energy drinks, all add up to big costs over the course of the month, but even if you can avoid those small expenses, how can you save even more off your total food budget? There are a plenty of ways that by making a few tweaks and a little proper planning can add up to significant savings.
Avoid Eating Out
Here is where the biggest extra cost into your food budget comes in. Sure, the convenience factor is outstanding; you get to have someone cook for you, serve, and clean up after you, something that you may never get at home, but that is where the premium price comes in and restaurants can charge top dollar. If you can avoid eating most of your meals out and at least limit to maybe once on the weekends and on special occasions, you will be surprised how quickly the savings will add up.
Stick to a Shopping List
When you do decide to go grocery shopping to start to prepare all of your meals at home, not only should you make a list before you go, but stick to it while you’re in the store. There are so many aisles with potential impulse purchases waiting for you if you look up from your list, and as soon as you start filling up the cart is where your budget goes out the window. Keep your head down, stick to your list, and get in and get out.
Never Leave the House Hungry
If you have ever gone to the grocery store on an empty stomach you will know that when you’re hungry, everything in the store looks good. Pretty soon you have filled your cart up with everything that looks good to eat at the time, that you may even not care when you see the total when checking out, but it’s after you eat that you realize that maybe the bags of unnecessary purchases were a mistake to your budget, and probably your waistline as well, because after all, healthy items sure don’t look good when you’re hungry.
Don’t Forget the Coupons
The days of sitting with the Sunday paper and clipping coupons may be fading quickly as more and more are cancelling newspaper subscriptions, but that doesn’t mean that coupons have faded away. If you go on your grocer’s website, you can load digital coupons to your store card, so that when you go to the checkout line the discounts will automatically be taken off. The only trick is that you have to remember what you loaded on there so it may be a good idea to print off a list before you go to the store.
Use the Rewards Card
Speaking of the rewards card, it’s something to use every time. Sure, it seems like the regular prices are jacked up a little so that the sales look even better when you use your rewards card, but even so, who cares because it’s cheaper. With your rewards card, you can also take advantage of the in-store promos such as “10 for $10” or even better, buying the color-coded items minimum in order to get additional savings off each. Just don’t forget to put in your phone number at the register to activate your card.
When You Shop Matters
It seems like everybody and their brother goes grocery shopping right after work and pretty much all weekend, and that is true, they do. Customers grab items to make for dinner during the week, and on the weekend, stock up for the weekend or week ahead. If you can go mid-week, after dinner, you will find hardly anyone there, making it easy to get in and get out. The other plus is that you can find additional sales, as there is no reason to put many items on sale on the weekend when most shop anyways.
Don’t Let the Fuel Points Expire
A great thing about using your rewards card is that you can accumulate fuel points which will take off money off each gallon of gas purchased at participating gas stations. The trick is, just try and remember to use them before they expire, so you may want to get in the habit of just getting gas when you go grocery shopping, so there will be less of an opportunity to miss out.