Sharpen the Knives: 8 Tips to Cut Your Grocery Budget

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The average American household spends over $7000 on groceries per year. That number increases with each passing year as food prices inflate.

How are you supposed to stick to your budget when groceries are so expensive?

It’s possible to save money on groceries if you get strategic. You don’t have to buy what flyers and commercials tell you to. Each family is unique in their preferences and budget.

Based on your grocery budget, learn how to get nutritious meals without going over. Here are eight budgeting tips for the grocery category.

1. Log Your Eating

On your phone or in a notebook, write down everything your family eats for a week. That includes kids’ lunches and your partner’s coffee on the way to work.

Once you see what your family spends on food each week, you can set an accurate budget.

Sure, only spending $100 a week would be great. But, for most families, it’s not realistic. Keep a food log to get a true picture of what you are already spending on food.

Tracking your spending, in general, is a great idea. You may not realize where you’re losing money or not spending it wisely.

2. Meal Plan

How often do you get takeout for dinner because you didn’t plan a meal? Perhaps you don’t have the ingredients to make what you want. Or, you don’t have the time to cook that you thought you did.

Meal planning before the start of a busy week is key. It’ll prevent you from dropping bills on takeout and impromptu dinners out.

Most families make meal planning a Sunday activity. You look at the items you currently have in your pantry. Then, pick recipes you can make with those staples.

When you do your weekly grocery shop, only buy what’s on the list. If you do it well, you will be prepared to make food your family likes. And, when you do get takeout, it’ll be planned and budgeted for.

3. Meal Prep

After you meal plan and buy your groceries, it’s time to prepare them for the week. For many people, the idea of chopping onions on a hectic school night isn’t enticing. It’s much easier to eat out than spend time cutting vegetables.

If you prepare all your ingredients in advance, cooking the actual meals doesn’t take as long.

Start by cutting all your veggies and putting them in airtight containers. If you drink smoothies during the week, put the ingredients in baggies and keep them in the freezer. The more you prepare in advance, the more likely you are to stick to your meal plan and stay on budget.

4. Go Organic When It Counts

Since the addition of organic produce to grocery stores, people are even more conscious about what they consume.

Here’s the thing. Organic produce is more expensive than the other produce. But it doesn’t always make a difference for your health.

Organic means the food wasn’t sprayed with pesticides and other chemicals in the fields.

Follow the Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 Rules. The Dirty Dozen are fruits and vegetables that you should buy organic. The Clean 15 are fruits and vegetables you can save money buying the regular variety.

5. Buy in Bulk

There are some ingredients you only use once in a blue moon. For example, spices, baking flour, and seeds.

Instead of paying for a full package of paprika that you won’t use again, go to a bulk store. Buy a small portion of the ingredient from a bulk store instead of a $5 paprika jar.

Buying in bulk can also save you money on things you go through quickly. For example, toilet paper, pasta noodles, or almond milk. If you drink smoothies every day and frozen fruit is on sale at the bulk store, stock up.

6. Pay with a Credit Card

This may seem counter-intuitive to an article trying to help you save money. But credit cards can save you a ton of money on groceries if you use them responsibly.

Most credit cards come with a points system. Every time you spend with one, you could get cash back, points at a store you shop at, or points at your grocery store.

Credit cards affiliated with your grocery store are the best for saving on groceries. Use it for a couple of months and you could get your next week’s groceries free.

You can also buy pantry staples from online grocery stores with a credit card. This is a convenient and affordable option; visit this page to learn more about online food shopping.

7. Shop the Sales

Don’t be afraid of food that looks ugly on the outside. Many grocery stores will discount produce that has bruises or isn’t perfectly shaped. You’re going to cut it up and cook with it anyway, so take the deal.

Some grocery stores also reduce the price of produce that is extra ripe and ready to go bad. You can freeze produce until you’re ready to use it. Consider buying the discounted ripe produce to use for cooking later.

For example, extra ripe bananas are perfect for making banana bread. Even though your kids won’t eat brown bananas, they will eat yummy banana bread. And those bananas were half the price.

8. Cut Back on Meat

Meat is one of the most expensive categories in grocery budgets. Protein is an important part of a healthy diet, so people think they don’t have a choice but to buy it.

But you do have a choice, and it’s much cheaper.

Consider reducing your meat intake and making vegetarian meals. Get your protein from other sources, like tofu, chickpeas, lentils, and beans. Get creative in finding new recipes to cook.

Not only could this be a fun experiment for your family, but it’ll save you money.

Ready to Lower Your Grocery Budget?

American households shouldn’t be going into debt buying healthy groceries. Your grocery budget doesn’t need to get trashed each week.

Follow the tips above for saving money while buying healthy food.

Many of us overspend on different budget categories besides food like cars, water, and more. Read here about the other things you’re likely wasting your hard-earned money on.

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