4 minute read
Grocery shopping is something that never ends in life. You will always need a budget for food. Not to mention, Americans spent more than 12 percent of their income on food in 2017, the third largest expenditure, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Here’s a few ways you can help yourself budget for groceries without breaking the bank:
- Decide on a budget. Take a look at how much you’ve been spending the past few months on groceries. With receipts in hand, ask yourself the following questions: What can I (we) cut out? What is a necessity? Are there any foods I’m buying that I end up not eating, or not eating as much as I thought? Once you have a budget in place, try placing cash in an envelope, so that you are literally setting the money aside each week to help you stick with that budget. Having actual cash in your hand also helps you keep track of the true value of grocery items, since it tends to be a lot easier to spend money when you’re swiping plastic.
- Make a list ahead of time. How often are you going to the store? Decide if it’s once per week or a few times per week. Maybe it’s even longer. Either way, pick a plan that works for you and it will make your grocery list much easier. I’ve found having a list ahead of time makes it less likely I’m going to impulse buy, ultimately keeping costs down.
- Produce. A general rule of thumb I like to follow when buying produce is to buy color. Mainly because it helps lead to a balanced diet. But I’ve found the biggest element of buying produce to be organic versus conventional. You might not have known this, but not all produce necessarily needs to be bought organically. You can find that list here. Knowing these tidbits is a great way to save some cash at the store.
- Meat. For those who consume meat, buying organic is going to be pricier than purchasing conventional (non-organic) meat. The USDA website is a great tool for guidance on buying organic meat versus conventional.
- Beans and Legumes. Adding beans and legumes to your grocery list is a great way to cut down spending at the store. They’re filling, versatile and most importantly, cheap. You can purchase them in cans, but you’ll get more bang for your buck if you buy them dry. The average cost of dry black beans per cup is 24 cents. Canned? 56 cents, according to the USDA. Lentils are typically even less, costing around 22 cents per cup. Plus, black beans, lentils, chickpeas, pinto beans, etc., can all easily be cooked in a crockpot. Just make sure to follow the instructions on the bag for filtering out any loose debris and soaking overnight if necessary.
- Invest in a cookbook. Cookbooks do more than provide recipes, they give you guidance on a general grocery list. If you’re having trouble thinking of new food items to buy, having a cookbook on hand can help with your brainstorming. While there are plenty of online resources for free, manually flipping through a cookbook is less exhausting to me than searching online. Ultimately, explore different methods for sourcing recipes and decide which method works best for you.
- Consider shopping at more than one grocery store. Some grocery stores are known for having lower costs, while others are known for being pricier. I like to buy my meat and produce from one store, with occasional trips to the local farmers market, and then go to a discount store for things like grains and snacks, especially anything processed. If you aren’t sure where to shop, ask around and you’ll be sure to get suggestions.
Think of the above list as a general guide when looking for ideas on how to save money at the grocery store. You can start by incorporating one or two items from the list into your grocery routine and still save money.
Interested in help for your overall retirement plan? Contact Us.