It seems that one of the areas of budgeting that most people struggle with the most is their food budget, which is why we dedicated this week’s podcast episode to the topic of saving money on your food budget.
Food is a necessity and you must have it to live so it definitely has to be part of your monthly budget. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t still try to keep your food budget under control.
Some people struggle with too much spending on eating out, and some struggle more with grocery spending. Either way you struggle with your food budget, we’ve got you covered with our 3 tips below. Hopefully these tips can help you finally get your food budget under control.
Make a Grocery List and Stick to It!
No matter whether you make your grocery list on paper or via an electronic means, like on your smartphone, just having a grocery list when you go shopping should help you stick to your food budget.
I like to make my list on paper and I’ve gotten to the point that I almost can’t shop without my list. It helps me keep track of what I have at home, what I need to get for the meals I have planned, and helps me avoid spending on things I don’t need.
I also take the time to craft my grocery list around items that are on sale at the grocery store that week. I review the sale flier and try to use those items to craft most of my meals for the week so I can save the most money possible.
Buy Produce in Season
My family loves fruits and vegetables but what we don’t like is how expensive some foods get during their off season. Plus, they may not even taste well. This is why you will not find me searching for blueberries and raspberries during the winter.
Produce should be a big component of your diet and daily meals so it’s easy to spend quite a bit on certain fruits and vegetables. I encourage you to always purchase what’s in season and be flexible and open to trying new things.
Check to see if any local grocery store near you have produce sales. There’s a nearby store in my neighborhood that sells fruits and vegetables for 10 cents each on certain day so I try to reserve my shopping for those times os IK can rack up.
You can also try price matching after your compare different grocery stores and their policies. Shopping at a store that price matches means if you bring them an ad from a competitor who offers the same item they have at a lower rate, the store will match their price so you purchase it from them. This strategy can also help you save when you’re buying meat which can add up quickly.
Memorize Prices and Check Labels
One of the easiest ways to save is by simply knowing what’s a sale and what isn’t a sale, and what the prices generally are for each of the major stores near you.
I’ve moved several times, and the differences between “sales” in each new area I’ve lived in has always surprised me. Back home, there were always 2/$5, 10/$6, 10/$10, etc. sales. However, BOGO was extremely popular where I used to live, and prices were generally higher, so I had to re-adjust my expectations.
Knowing the prices of the items I routinely buy has saved me a bunch of money because it has allowed me to figure out what places are the best to shop at. I know off-hand whether or not something is worth purchasing, or if I should wait for a better sale.
All you have to do is be intentional about how you shop – which goes along with creating a list. When you write out what you need and the price it’s advertised at in the circular, knowing the average price for items will start coming naturally to you.
My other tip is to check prices. Sometimes, you need to read the fine print before buying. Those 2/$5, 10/$10 sales I mentioned? You might have to buy 2 or 10 of those items to receive that price. Other times, you might not be required to buy a certain amount.
Another time it’s worth checking out the labels is to look at the unit price; so the price per ounce, per pound, etc. This is great when you’re buying one item that comes in 3-5 different sizes. Which is the best buy? Check the unit price beforehand and make sure you’re actually getting a good deal.
What strategies do you use to save money on your food budget?