Food – tasty, inevitable, and potentially expensive. Food can either work with you or work against you; with your health and your wallet! But, there are ways to spend less on food! Did you know according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a “thrifty” family of four spending $636 a month on groceries, where a “liberal” family spends $1269 a month on groceries. We all need food to live. However, we don’t always spend exorbitant amounts of money on food. The CGS Team is sharing 10 ways you can spend less on food, so you can put that money elsewhere.
10 ways to spend less on food
#1 Make a List and Stick to It
The ladies of the CGS Team are huge fans of lists. Regardless of the type of store you are going to, going with a list helps you stay focused. When you have a list, you have a game plan. You know what you need, and if the item is not on the list, it’s not a priority. This especially comes in handy at the grocery store.
When making your list, organize by items that are found together at the store. This will help support an easy “in and out” experience, which will help avoid distractions. The longer you are in the grocery store, the more likely you are to stray from the list and spend more money.
#2 Sign Up for Grocery Store Rewards
Nowadays, most grocery chains have reward programs. If you have a favorite grocery store, sign up for their loyalty or reward program! This is a great way to get “member” pricing on a variety of items, which can add up to big savings. Some grocery chains, like Randall’s or H-E-B in the south, have reward programs that can result in savings on gas and other non-food necessities.
#3 Learn How to Cook
Learning how to cook can save you money and pounds! When you know how to cook, you can create meals that are healthy and tasty. You avoid heading to the closest drive-thru or a random restaurant which can save a lot in the long run. Learning how to cook can also help you avoid picking processed foods while at the grocery store. We’ll talk more about the importance of this later in the article.
#4 Skip the “Serving Size” Portions
There’s no denying the convenience of serving-sized portions. They are lunch-box ready and packed to snack-size portion, which makes them more expensive. Take the advice of Money Talk News, “Rather than buying small packages, buy bigger portions and break them down. Invest in reusable containers to dole out yogurt from a big tub. Buy chunk cheese and cut it up. Get the big bag of chips and pretzels and divide them up in baggies. It doesn’t take much time, and it will save you dollars.”
#5 Avoid “Name Brands” Where Possible
If you think all name brand items are better than generic or store brand products, you may want to reconsider. Whether it’s cereal, sugar, or your favorite ice cream, generic brand items tend to be a lot cheaper and are usually made with the exact same ingredients that name brand products are made with! We understand that sometimes it’s not worth saving a few bucks, but don’t knock a name brand item until you try it.
#6 Don’t Shop on an Empty Stomach
As silly as this theory sounds, it’s true! Heading into the grocery store on an empty stomach makes everything sound tasty. Your taste buds take over and more things are put into your shopping card than you originally expected. When you are starving, it’s easy to ditch your list and go with your stomach! Before you head to the grocery store, fill your stomach. Having something in your stomach will help you stay focused on only the items you need.
#7 Leave Distractions at Home
Shopping with people who don’t spend time cooking or understand the needs of the household could cost you more money. If you’re a mother, or babysitting and run to the grocery store with kids, you discover that kids seem to want everything in the store. Leave the distractions at home, so you can get in and out with everything on your list. You can also consider a personal shopper or grocery delivery service. That’s one way to guarantee you don’t get more than you need!
#8 Shop the Clearance Rack
Products are always on sale in your grocery store. These are often items and food that will be expiring soon. Take advantage! If you are making your food right away, a looming expiration date is irrelevant. Locate the clearance section at your store and make it a habit to frequent it every time you go.
#9 Control Your Portions
Portion control has a huge impact on how much you spend on groceries and restaurant food. Keeping your portions under control means you aren’t over preparing food that will be thrown out. It also means you won’t be over-eating, which has its own set of problems. Read 4 Ways to Learn Portion Control for some tips on controlling your portions, which can save you money!
#10 Limit the Processed Foods
Similar to overeating, processed foods are terrible for your diet. They are often loaded with artificial preservatives to keep the food edible. Another common ingredient is salt. Salt contributes to bloating and unwanted water weight. From a monetary perspective, processed foods are often valued high compared to what you are actually getting. The processed box of Hamburger Helper may seem inexpensive, but with a small portion size, you may be able to get more bang for your buck creating your own hamburger dish.
Tip the scale in your favor and save more money by following the tips above! Be mindful of every purchase and think about how it will affect your weight and your wallet. How do you save money at the grocery store? Do you have go-to dishes that are healthy and cost-effective? Post a comment below to share your tips!