9 tips to cut your food bill by up to 50 percent
Tired of your wallet taking a beating at the grocery store? Here are some creative ways to save big on food costs.
This post comes from Allison Martin at partner site Money Talks News.
Food is one of those variable expenses that can definitely hit your budget below the belt. I mean, have you seen the price of beef lately?
According to the latest figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average U.S. household spent about $4,000 on food in 2012.
The good news is that couponing, shopping sales and making a list aren't the only ways to save a substantial amount of money on your grocery bill.1. Do your own slicing and dicing
Prepackaged products are convenient for the consumer, but they also come with a much higher price tag. Although it may be a tad bit time-consuming, buying whole food products, such as fruit from the produce section, whole chicken, block cheese and fresh vegetables, will save you a substantial amount of money.
In other words, put your hands to work and stop paying others for something you can do on your own.
2. Buy generic
What's the point of buying the high-end version of the product if the generic one is comparable in both quality and taste? That's exactly why you should give those generics a shot, and save between 20 and 50 percent on your grocery bill while doing so.
I was once a Froot Loop junkie until I discovered that the Walmart brand not only tastes better, but is half the price.
And with store brands, you can also rest assured that you're not wasting money, as most grocers offer a money-back guarantee on their products if you are not satisfied. So why not give it a shot? You may just be in for a treat.
3. Seek alternative sources
Be sure to check out alternatives to the major grocery chains to substantially reduce your grocery bill. And, no, I'm not referring only to warehouse clubs, such as Sam's Club and Costco, but local meat markets, fruit stands and salvage grocery stores. The latter stock dented cans, closeouts and items with torn packaging -- at rock-bottom prices.
Please note that dented cans have the potential to be hazardous to your health. Check out this document (.pdf file) to learn more.
4. Store food properly
Storing your food in the most effective manner possible will extend the food's shelf life and significantly reduce the number of trips you make to the grocery store each month. You can butter cheese to prevent mold, store perishables in smaller quantities in durable, air-tight containers, and freeze meats.
Also, take a look at this list of optimal storage times from FoodSafety.gov.
5. Shop strategically
Just like everything else in life, saving big bucks on your grocery bill requires that some sort of strategy be implemented.
For instance, you should never go to the store hungry because you will be tempted to buy all sorts of junk food and other items that look good. Instead, fill up your food tank before heading out so you don't need to resist the urge to give in to your cravings.
If you're a member of a warehouse club, take advantage of the bulk offers on the items that you consume frequently. The Sam's Club in my neck of the woods offers a jumbo box of oatmeal for $8.99, which is what I used to spend for two small boxes each month. But thanks to what I like to call the "mega-pack," we are still eating away three months later.
6. Look forward to leftovers
There's nothing better than a good old-fashioned family feast that provides plenty of leftovers, enough to last for several days. In my home, after a holiday meal or other special occasion I know I'll be spared from cooking duties for a few days.
Now, I'm not suggesting that you cook a Thanksgiving feast for a family of four in an ordinary week, but it's not a bad idea to prepare a large enough meal to yield leftovers that can be consumed for lunch the following day.
7. Set boundaries
The ultimate goal here is saving, correct? That's why your needs must supersede your wants. Isn't it funny how we all of a sudden crave items that we hadn't thought of before we spot them in an aisle at the grocery store? You must not give in to your cravings, but be disciplined enough to stick to your grocery budget and list.
8. Check the bottom racks
Manufacturers pay for shelf space, and they sometimes cover the cost by passing it on to the consumer. When you're grocery shopping, take a moment to look at the lower shelves for the cheaper products that you may have been overlooking in the past.
9. Plan ahead
It's important to plan ahead if you want to cut your grocery bill in half. For instance, you won't spend money on items you already have in your home.
I'd also suggest creatively combining the food products already at your disposal and preparing meals with items that have been collecting dust on the shelf. In other words, be wise with what you already have, and don't let food go to waste.
Do you have any additional cost-cutting tips you'd like to share on reducing grocery bills?
More on Money Talks News:
I stopped shopping at a local grocery store because if they had a sale such as 2 for $5 where you can save $1 on 2, you had to buy 2. A differennt grocery store would have the same sale but I could buy 1 and still get the $0.50 savings. Sometimes I don't need 2 because the 2nd would spoil.
I agree with Dover about learning to cook from scratch. It is cheaper. It is also a lot easier than many people realize. While some dishes are labor and time intensive, you can make some very tasty meals with quick, simple preparation. These things all but eliminate the temptation to order out make a microwave dinner on those nights that we are tired and come home late..
....jeezz, when are they going to get writers that live in the real world? Try being among the growing numbers of diabetics in this country, 11% and growing. Can't eat the cheap carbs anymore. Froot Loops? Hahahah I've forgotten what they taste like. My blood sugar climbs like crazy if I eat anything but meats and vegetables and even some of them are forbidden. Corn is one of the very worst things you can eat as a diabetic.
....I want some mashed potatos and gravy....
Big savings, home brewing! I started brewing my own beer, If you can wait the three months, well worth it! Also the grocery store I go to, has a machine that dispenses filtered water. for 30 cents a gallon, I supply the empty gallon jugs! I watch people buy the bottled water that is right next to the machine for about a buck for a 12 ounce plastic bottle that they only throw away adding to the massive waste. Also you could buy a home filter system. I personally never thought that drinking tap water would turn out to be bad for you, and yet we keep hearing and watching news stories about pollutants turning up in our drinking water. Another money saver for electricity, don't stand in front of the fridge with the door open trying to decide what you want! Know beforehand, have space set aside on the counter for everything you need, then after use put the rest back at the same time, not as you go. Also a big water saver is to put a bowl or pot in the shower with you, after you're done you got water for the plants.
I live on disability, in a very nice one bedroom apartment, I don't have cable TV, or a TV for that matter, just a computer for my entertainment and office needs. I only turn on the heat when absolutely needed and I save over $200.00 month. All I have for bills are my rent, my internet, and electricity and food, no car. I added dental insurance, through assistance with the military. My health bills are taken care of by social security and the veterans Admin. I know not everyone has this opportunity, which took me along time to get. I am now in my 50's and have not had a job since 1998. Not my choice trust me! I would much rather have more disposable income, I've learned to cut a lot of corners. As far as me living off the sweat of others, I worked for 25 years in the public sector as well as serving our country so I'm getting back what I put in.
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