When we look to save money and stay out of debt, most people look to long-term solutions or try to cut big-ticket expenses. They look to downgrade their home, seek out a higher-paying job, or try to figure out whether an individual retirement account should be part of a savings plan. They forgo vacations and cut back on car purchases and technology costs, among many other measures.
There is nothing wrong with taking a big-picture approach of this sort, but anyone looking to cut expenses and avoid debt is best served to also consider their spending on a daily basis. While the money we spend on the average day may not be much, the aggregate effect of this spending can add up quickly over time. This particularly applies to our food budgets. The FDA estimates that a family of four spends over $200 per week on food costs. Extrapolate that number over time and you’re looking at a pretty decent amount of money.
The FDA also estimates that a “thrifty” spending plan can reduce costs for that family by over $50 per month. This can translate into a savings of $600 per year. How can these savings be realized? Here are a few tips:
-Plan your meals beforehand- Many people go to the grocery store and buy those ingredients and food products that they think they need – not simply those that they actually require. You can avoid this mistake by planning out all your meals for a two-week period before going to the store. This way, you can insure that you buy only what you need and nothing more.
-Buy high-nutrition, low-cost foods- Not all foods are created alike. Some are low in nutritional value and high in price. Others are cheap yet full of healthy calories. It’s that second category that you want to target while planning meals and shopping for foods. Products such as rice, beans, eggs, pasta, and tuna are all great options here.
-Go vegetarian- There’s no question that a meat-heavy diet is more expensive than one that minimizes such purchases. Becoming a vegetarian, consequently, can help you eliminate some of the costliest food options that you otherwise would purchase.
-Purchase non-perishables in bulk- You can save considerably on non-perishable items by buying them in bulk and storing them in your basement or cellar until they are needed. Stores such as Sam’s Club and Costco are great places to stock up on canned foods, condiments, paper plates and utensils, napkins, and any other non-perishables that you may use.
Following these steps should hopefully help you start saving on your weekly grocery budget. While $50 may not seem like a huge amount, the benefits add up quickly and – in the long run – can greatly improve your budget and your bottom line.