There is a reason why people say: ‘don’t go grocery shopping when you are hungry’. Impulse grocery shopping is a big budget leak. There is no secret, after mortgage and insurance, meal planning and grocery shopping is one of the biggest items on the average family’s budget. In fact, our friends at gobankingrates.com estimate that the average percentage of what people in the US spend on groceries can fluctuate from 13% to 33% of the household’s income. Of course, there are a bunch of variables like age, gender and income that dictates how much people spend each month on groceries, but the bottom line remains the same: people spend a lot on groceries in the US.
However, if you are like us here at Saving For Hope, you like to save money, without compromising quality and health on your grocery bill. If that describes you and your family well, keep reading for a few tips that can help you improve your meals and your wallet.
Keep these few tips in mind the next time you go to your local grocery store and start wondering if you need to add those donuts to your shopping cart.
- Plan your meals. Seriously, do it!! This is nothing new and there is no secret, that people that plan their meals spend less than people that don’t. don’t believe me? read this cool article about meal prep with some facts. The push back that we get from people most of the time is: that meal prep takes too long, and it is hard to keep up. It is true, meal prepping takes time and effort, but we believe the regards are far greater than the time spent doing it. Start small (one or two days a week) and work your way to prepping for a full week in advanced. If you stay ahead, you will save. Guaranteed.
- Pack your lunch to work. Another advantage of meal prepping, and planning is the fact that you can have leftovers to take to work the following day, helping you save your hard-earned cash. The average lunch costs about $8.00. and this can add up to a whopping $3,000.00 a year if you are not careful. Pack your lunch at least 3 or 4 times a week, and you will start seeing the savings pile up. Also, eating your own food, allows you to be healthier because you won’t have the temptation to stop at the local McDonalds for a quick “cheap” lunch.
- Shop in bulk, only for what you can store for a while. Living in Florida my wife and I were always trying to have a nice stocked pantry in case of any natural disaster. We used to go to the local Sam’s club or Costco to buy rice, beans and items that could be stored in our pantry. We noticed that we were spending money on canned items that we did not eat, and worse of all, we ended throwing away after they passed the expiration date. As we got smarter, we started only buying in bulk items that do not have expiration dates (items like napkins, and paper products, bags, etc.) This small switch has allowed us to save money in the long run and to be more efficient in how we buy our groceries. The last thing you want is to have a pantry full of expiring stuffs that you will never eat! It is a waste of money.
- Make a grocery list. This one is another one of those that it is so easy and common people don’t pay attention to it anymore. Yet, there are people out there that still don’t make lists and go to the local market once or twice a week. They usually end up with 3 ketchups (that might expire before they can use them) and other items that they already had or did not need. Don’t be like them! And stop the ketchup craze. Start writing down what you need, when you need it. It saves you time and money. People that write down their groceries spend less and are more efficient with their budget.
- Have a budget and stick to it. There are two ways in how a budget can help you save on your meals. First, it will help stick to the foods you need (and that you write down on your grocery list) allowing you to be more competent. Second, it also helps you on those nights that you want to go and eat out for a change of pace. My wife loves family night outs (which we have in our budget) because she says she does not have to clean the kitchen after! She enjoys that, more than the actual meal. Budgeting for both groceries and eating out will help you save if you stick to it. Sit down with your family and talk about what works best for all and start planning today. If you want to read about the importance of budgeting, click here.
- Junky snacks cost you cash. Don’t buy a ton of snacks that are not good for you and that they cost a ton of money. We already wrote an article about snacks and couponing and how much that can add to your cost, see the entire article here. Also, we have an article about drinks here. Finally, I can say that snacks are ok occasionally, but snacks are usually not good for you and your wallet, so remember this: snacks cost you cash!
There you have it. These few ideas will help you be healthier and save time and money. Budgeting and planning for food related items is good for your bottom line. Home cooking and planning your meals better goes a long way to help you and your family get out of the cycle of poverty. Enjoy!!