Food is often one of the biggest expenses that families have, especially when it comes to those of medium to large sizes. Of course, it can be also difficult for just on person to budget for groceries. Whether you are single and live alone or have children to feed, there are steps you can take to spend less on food, and eat healthier while doing it. Try these tips as well as others posted on the Embassy Loans blog.
1. Waste nothing. Once or twice a week, have a “leftover buffet” to use up those small amounts of leftover food that aren’t enough alone to make a meal out of. This is almost like getting a free meal. If you have small amounts of a few different entrees, heat them up and add an extra or two such as cheese and crackers or cut up veggies and dip. Or, make sandwiches out of leftovers for the next day’s lunch. Just about any leftover meat and/or vegetable can get rolled into a tortilla for a tasty wrap that costs a fraction of convenience foods.
2. Have a plan when you go shopping. If it’s going to be a busy week, plan to cook extra on the weekend so that you have prepared food available and won’t be tempted to splurge on more-expensive takeout. Decide what you want to eat during the upcoming week, and write a list of exactly what you’ll need (checking the pantry first for staples you already have). Never shop without a list. And never shop hungry – you’ve heard it before, but it’s a highly effective way to ensure you won’t have trouble sticking to the list.
3. Keep your pantry stocked with basics. When you do find yourself without a plan for dinner one night, you won’t waste money on convenience foods if you have a pantry stocked with food items such as rice, canned beans, canned tuna, or pasta. Be sure to keep a few of these types of items on hand so you can pull together an easy, inexpensive meal at home at a moment’s notice.
4. Use coupons – the right way. Coupons are often for high-priced convenience items, and buying something you wouldn’t have bought otherwise just because you have a coupon will deplete your grocery budget, not help it. If you want to clip coupons, great, but do it after your grocery list is written out, and use coupons only for things you are buying anyway. Some flexibility is fine if you come across a really great deal; just make sure you don’t buy things you don’t need and possibly won’t use.
5. Try shopping at a club or warehouse store. These larger club stores offer great deals on many items. There is an upfront annual membership fee, but especially if you are buying for a larger family, the savings on nonperishables like toilet paper and trash bags alone can offset it. Shop these stores with a list, just like any store, to avoid over-purchasing, and do take note of the prices of items you use often at other stores – don’t assume an item will cost less at a club store. Paper goods, canned items, and frozen foods are good choices; be cautious when buying fresh produce at a club store unless you are sure your family will eat all of the larger quantity these foods come in.