Food prices keep going up, so how can you get more food on a budget? As costs of staples like food continue to rise it is more important than ever that shoppers consider all of their options to save money at the grocery store.
Here are the best ways to save money and get more food while sticking to your budget.
The Best Ways to Save
Buy Generic or Store Brands
This might be the biggest opportunity to save money on food. In many cases, you can save up to 30% or more by checking out the generic or store brand foods. That used to mean primarily canned or boxed items, but today we find store brand foods throughout the store. I have found cases where the store brand items contain more wholesome ingredients and I prefer the taste or texture - in other words, they are the better tasting and healthier choice as well. Pick up a generic or store brand item on your next trip to the store and give it the taste test. You might be surprised and make it your new staple.
Buy Different Things at Different Stores
There is only so much time for grocery shopping, but splitting your trips between 2 or 3 stores can make a huge difference in your grocery budget. Take a list of your favorite 20 or 30 things to more than one store to check out the prices yourself. You might find, like I did, that some things are the same price between two stores but other things are quite different. You might end up going to one store for the meat counter and produce because of its superior quality, but always buy your non-perishables at another store based solely on price. It takes discipline, but avoiding the center aisles of one store because you know those things are cheaper at another will save you plenty of money. Don't forget to check the gas station either. They often have great prices on things like milk or bread.
Shop With a List
This is a big one and gets even bigger if you have access to a super store, with groceries on one side and non-groceries on the other. You need to shop with a list. A grocery store is a very tempting place to be. Bring your list and don't deviate from it, unless you spot a sale on one of your staples. It will also help if you aren't going on an empty stomach. If you find yourself in a super store, where something as innocent as detergent or shampoo is way over on the other side of the store, put on your blinders as you trek across the store for those items. You know you'll be passing through the other aisles to get there, but you didn't come to the store for a new lamp today did you? Stick to the list. Impulse buys at the grocery store are the biggest budget killer of them all.
Buy Quantity or at Warehouse Clubs
When you are trying to save money on your grocery budget you have to be on the lookout for bargains. This means you need to be aware of how much things cost. You will only know if a jar of peanut butter is cheap if you know how much it normally costs. Don't assume that a sale at one store is cheaper than the normal price at another. When you truly do find a deal on something that you use regularly and it is non-perishable, don't buy just one. Buy several - that way you multiply your savings. Consider buying bulk at warehouse clubs as well, but don't blindly assume that they have the lowest prices. Know what you are comparing the price to. It makes no sense to pay more for a huge can of tuna than you would have for usable cans on sale across the street.
Drink More Water
Not only is it good for you, and you probably could use more in your diet, it's free. Consider reducing other beverages like juice, coffee, soda, or beer in favor of more water. Those empty calories, artificial sweeteners, and caffeine won't be missed and you'll save money. Keep in mind I didn't say stop, just reduce. Stopping is optional.
This is my least favorite one, but it's true that there are some great coupons out there. The Sunday paper continues to be a good source if you use the coupons. At a cost of a dollar or more, you need to find a few coupons each week to make the paper worth it. Other options include on your cell phone or other online coupon sites. If you have a smartphone check out the apps to find one you like. You can also check out your favorite manufacturers' sites directly to see if they have any coupons to print while you're online. If you're lucky enough to have a store that offers double coupons you should check that out. The problem with coupons is that in most cases, product prices after coupons are still higher than the regular prices of generic or store brands, so think carefully before assuming you are getting a good deal.
Restaurant eating is convenient, fun, and expensive - and prices are going up. Limit your time at restaurants each week to keep your food budget in check. Instead of eating out regularly, make it a special weekly event to cut costs. For the price of feeding the family once at a restaurant you might be able to buy two days worth of groceries. That's a huge deal, so plan accordingly. Eating in doesn't just apply when you're home either. It's also a good idea to eat in at work, or, if you want to get out of the office, to bring a lunch. If you can turn a $7 lunch into a $3 brown bag lunch every day it adds up to real money back in the grocery budget.
Cook in Bulk
You can save lots of money by cooking in bulk as well. If your family is busy with schedules and you find it hard to sit down to a meal, cooking a few meals at a time and freezing them to serve later can save money. For example, instead of making one lasagna this weekend, why not make three and freeze the other two? You can buy the ingredients more in bulk this way, making them cheaper, but still use the ingredients all up the day you get home from the store. As a bonus, you now have a couple of meals to easily pull out of the freezer and toss in the oven for those days when you just don't have time to cook.
Time To Save
Now that you have a list of ideas to help you get more food on a budget, put some of them into play in your household and start saving money today.