There's no mistaking it, food prices have continued to rise over the past year. According to CNN.com, the cost of food has increased by 6.6% in 2008 alone. BusinessWeek.com reported that most cost increases on individual items, especially dairy products, have risen by double-digit increases. Some statistics include: an increase of about 27% on cheese, 38% on eggs, 10% on milk and 19% on bread. With basic necessities increasing substantially, we need to take advantage of money-saving tips to help us stay within our grocery budgets.
Did you know: The average American family spends 15% of it's income on food and drinks?
Photo by: Steven Fernandez
However, there are ways to combat these rising prices if you learn some simple shopping strategies and begin shopping smart. After doing some research, here are my top 10 ways to slash your grocery bill:
1. Use the featured sales ad from your grocery store to plan weekly meals:
- Before you shop, get your grocery stores' ad and look at the deals, plan your meals around what's on sale-write your shopping list using the brands and items that are on sale.
- Make a detailed grocery list so you only have to make one trip to the store.
- Plan ahead so you don't impulsively buy items while at the store.
- You can also save time by planning ahead and dividing the list between family members once you're in the store-everyone works together to get the shopping done faster.
2. Choose cheaper meats:
- Buying less expensive cuts of meat and marinating them allows you to save money without forfeiting your favorite dinners.
3. Shop at stores that have savings programs and know how they work:
- Find out if the store offers "buy one get one free" deals or if there is a savings card you can get or if they double coupons, etc.
- You can maximize your savings once you know the rules because you'll find ways to combine discounts to get items at an even greater reduced price.
4. Start clipping those coupons:
- Buy 2 or 3 copies of the Sunday paper to drastically increase your savings.
- Go on the grocery stores' website-often they will offer their best deals in coupons you can print from the Internet.
5. Plan a potluck:
- A couple of times a month get together with friends or neighbors for dinner potluck style-have everyone bring something.
- Enjoy the time socializing (which can help reduce stress) and save money all in one night!
Photo by: Darwin Bell
6. Buy extra items when they are at their lowest price:
- Figure out when your grocery store offers things at their lowest price-for example, if boneless chicken is on sale every other week, get enough to last for two weeks and freeze it.
- Don't buy a whole year's worth at one time, just the amount needed to last until the next sale.
7. Don't be stuck on specific brands or stores:
- Learn to buy the brand that is on sale the most (even if it's not name brand).
- Also, be flexible about which grocery store you go to-look at all the sale papers and shop where the items are the cheapest for that week.
8. Maximize your little indulgences:
- Find ways to make your more expensive, special items last longer.
- For example, if you can't let go of your favorite pricey brand of coffee, try mixing it with a less expensive brand to make it last twice as long-the flavor will still be there, but it will cost you half the price.
9. Organize a coupon group:
- Find some friends or neighbors who are interested in cutting coupons and assign a designated person to each member of the group.
- Every week after you're finished clipping your coupons, mail or give your unused coupons to your person. In return you'll also receive a set of coupons from your designated person as well.
- This will give you a much wider range of coupons on various products.
10. Don't be wasteful, measure it:
- If you find yourself throwing out unused food, especially pet food leftover in bowls, start measuring it. Use the back of the package as a guideline for how much food your pet needs-your pet will be healthier as they are not being overfed and their food will last a lot longer.
Photo by: Micky
I hope these tips will be helpful in cutting your grocery bill each week. If have other tips for keeping your food costs down, please share them with all of us in the comment section below. We can help each get through this tight economy...and if you currently don't even use a grocery budget, maybe now is the time to start. Figure out a number your family can comfortably spend each week on food and stick to it--this includes dining out as well!
Thanks for Reading!