Ways to cut your food bill
One bill that no one can ever completely cut out is the food bill. You have to eat, therefore your groceries will always and forever be a part of your budget. Here are the top ways to slice and dice your food bill each month.
- Think outside the box for dinner
When it comes to dinner you might have grown up on a full 3 course meal each night with all the fixings. Well, you can scrap that idea if you are looking to trim your food bill and your sanity. It’s ok to loosen up and try a dinner of BLTs, a crock pot delight or soup and salad. You can save big when you keep some of your dinners more simple.
- Calculate while you shop
You should go into every grocery store trip with a budget. What trips up a lot of people is just estimating what you are tossing in your cart. Until you get proficient, you should be calculating your items along the way. It makes checking out a breeze, instead of trying to sort and pick what to put back.
- Always round up
Another fun trick while you shop is to round up your purchases as you calculate them. For example, if a gallon of milk is $1.82, just round it up to $2. This guarantees you stay within budget and gives you a nice little surprise at the checkout (i.e. your purchases will be less than your calculator).
- Look in your pantry before you shop
Before you step foot into the grocery store, you should take a real good look at your pantry and refrigerator (including your freezer). You need to be honest with the food you have and you might be surprised that you have food for a few more days. This might mean you are making some soup with leftovers or some other random recipe, but it will all help your grocery budget.
- Bulk up intelligently
Buying in bulk is very popular and for good reason. Oftentimes buying in bulk saves you in the long run, however, sometimes it doesn’t. What you need to consider is the cost per unit or ounce of the item you are buying.
- Use your freezer
The freezer meal world just keeps getting bigger and bigger. You can make many meals yourself and freeze them for later. This helps keep your food fresher longer and makes dinner time a breeze.
- Pay with cash
Sticking to your grocery budget is best done in cash. Many financial advisors give this advice to buying things in general. Paying in cash feels a whole lot different than just swiping your card. When the cash runs out, that’s it! If you find yourself eating well at the beginning of the month and just scraping by at the end, then you need to try this trick.
- Stick to your list
Make a grocery list and stick to it. This is not to say that you can’t ever splurge, but you need to put every grocery into your budget and your list. This is the one way you WILL stick to your budget. Don’t leave room for surprises and be honest with your list.
- Be seasonal
Choosing food to eat that is in season is another great way to save on your grocery bill. The price of the produce will be reduced. You just need to plan your menu for the season and you will be saving big in no time. The bonus here is that produce that is in season tends to also taste much better!
- Be leery of eye-level items
Have you ever noticed that some of the most expensive grocery items are directly at eye level on the shelf? This is totally on purpose. Grocery stores want you to spend more so they will put the more expensive brands right where you see them. Next time, try looking down for bigger savings.
- Shop at multiple stores
The best deals might not be at your store of choice. Think of the reasons why you shop where you do. If it is not based on price, then think again. Shuffle through flyers and apps like Flipp to see who really has the best deals.
- Don’t shop when hungry
When you are hungry and grocery shopping, you are likely going to fill your cart up more. You are likely going to grab whatever sounds like it will stop your stomach from grumbling. Instead, eat a nice healthy meal before your big shopping event.
- Meal plan
Have a menu or a meal plan for the week and try hard to stick to it. You can really get creative and try new items each week. This will also help you from stopping for fast food because you are not prepared for dinner.
- Don’t fall for a deal you don’t need
It’s hard to resist a sale or a big deal. But, you need to start learning to really only buy what you absolutely need. The same holds true for couponing. Don’t buy something just because you have a coupon.
- Choose curbside pickup
If you can’t trust yourself to stick to your list once you start meandering around the store, try using the curbside pickup option. Most grocery stores now allow you to make your selections through an app and then just show up at a certain time for pickup. This is so easy and saves a ton of time.
- Use apps
The world of technology has led us to an abundance of apps. So, take advantage. Ibotta, Receipt Hog, Checkout 51, and Walmart’s Savings Catcher are just a few of the apps out there that help you cut your grocery bill. Most have rebates that allow you to cash out on, so there’s even more of a bonus.
- Meatless Mondays
Meat is expensive. Many families have tried out a meatless Monday routine in order to save a few bucks. You can get creative and try new dishes each Monday that do not include meat. Trust us, there’s plenty of vegetarian options that are tasty and filling.
- Eat your leftovers
At work, don’t buy your lunch. Try always bringing along your leftovers. Eating out for lunch can become quite costly and you might not even realize it.
- Buy generic
According to Dave Ramsey, “A group of Consumer Reports “taste testers” found that most store brands measure up to the name brands in taste and quality—and they’re usually 15–30% lower in price! In other words, your less expensive lasagna will taste just as delicious as Grandma’s.” So, go ahead and buy generic to save big.
- Leave your overspenders at home
Do you have a child, friend or spouse that always seems to convince you to add something to your cart that wasn’t on your list? If this sounds familiar, you need to start leaving these people at home. Overspender are not helpful to your budget or your bank account.
Since you can’t cut your grocery bill completely out, you need to get confident in your budget and grocery list. Building good habits in this area will help you save big since this is an activity that you participate in often. Don’t get overwhelmed, but take these tidbits of advice in baby steps.