The average American grocery bill costs families over $6,000 each year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Second only to housing and transportation, grocery spending takes a huge bite out of every family’s monthly budget. Luckily, there are many ways families can reduce their grocery bill while still enjoying healthful, satisfying meals.
Limit eating out
Eating regularly at restaurants can boost your grocery bill by an average of $,2600 each year. Even a daily cup of Starbucks coffee ends up costing over $1,000 annually! Brown bagging lunch and saving restaurants for special occasions significantly reduces grocery spending.
Purge the pantry
Food waste in America is expensive business. The average American family of four throws away $112-172 of food each month. By the end of a year, this means over $3,200 finds its way to your trash can, landfills and waterways, rather than feeding the family. Regularly monitoring your pantry and refrigerator for food that may expire, and then using it right away reduces your grocery spending by quite a bit.
Watch where you shop
Rather than shopping at expensive specialty stores, check your mailbox for weekly sale inserts from local grocery stores. Nonperishable loss leaders, products sold at or near cost to entice shoppers through the door, can be stocked up and perishables can be used to make soups for freezing and other food products for canning and drying. Also, many cheaper grocery outlets, such as the Dollar Store and Super Walmart, offer the same products at greatly reduced prices over their more posh competitors.
Use coupons and buy in bulk
Coupons, whether clipped from a newspaper or through a store club membership, provide discounts on products you normally buy. While it is important to avoid buying unnecessary items simply because you have a coupon, family’s can use them to reduce their grocery spending. Buying in bulk can also reduce prices.
Grow your own
Even apartment dwellers can reduce their grocery spending by growing some of their own food. Fresh herbs can be grown on window sills and counter-tops with little trouble. Even the smallest piece of ground can be used to grow fresh tomatoes, melons, and potatoes make lovely patio plants. Fresh food plants taste better and are far more fresh than anything bought at a store.
Visit farmer’s markets and shop seasonal items
Local farmer’s markets are an excellent resource for affordable fresh food. Without the massive overhead of grocery stores, farmer’s market prices are low and you are supporting local enterprises at the same time! Foods that are in season are generally far less expensive than those that must be shipped from the other side of the globe (and grown with chemicals often banned by the FDA).
Monitor grocery store receipts
One easy way to reduce grocery spending is to circle the most expensive items on your receipt and find more affordable alternatives. This also provides protection against overcharging and duplicate charges.
Where’s the beef?
Beef is often one of the family’s most costly grocery items. Switching to poultry, fish and beans for more meals can save money and improve health which, in turn, may reduce health care costs. Also, many stores offer 30-50% markdowns on meat that will expire soon. This meat can be frozen for up to one year and still be perfectly safe to eat.
Make a list
Another easy way to reduce grocery spending is to make a list and stick with it. Billions of dollars go into researching ways to get people to buy things impulsively. Avoid those temptations by shopping from a list of items you actually need.
For some families, planning menus ahead of time reduces grocery spending. Weekly menus can be designed around seasonal foods and sale items, providing even greater savings.
These are just a few of the ways families and individuals significantly reduce grocery spending, improve their health and still enjoy delicious meals.