How much you spend on food each month depends on a few factors: your income, where you live, your family size, your dietary needs and the time of year. But it’s safe to say that most of us spend at least several hundred dollars per month on groceries alone. In fact, a recent survey found average grocery costs for consumers in major U.S. metropolitan areas range from $286 per month (in Dallas-Fort Worth) to almost $500 monthly (in Seattle).
Most of us are looking for ways to make our food budgets go farther — to get the groceries we want and need — and eat out occasionally without breaking the bank.
Here are five ways to do so :
Make a List of What You Have
Have you ever gone to the grocery store, certain you needed a product — flour, milk, olive oil, chicken broth, cinnamon, bread, etc. — only to find there was already plenty in your refrigerator or pantry left over from a previous shopping trip when you returned?
A simple way to reduce redundancy in food expenditures is to take an inventory of your kitchen. This way, you’ll know exactly what you already have on hand, and can avoid accidentally doubling up. You may even find some products you forgot about in the back of your cabinets, which will serve as a good reminder to use them before they expire.
Shop by Season
In the past, people could only really eat what was in season — or what they preserved. Today, it’s possible to buy nearly anything year-round, regardless of growing season. The catch is you’ll probably pay a premium to do so.
This is why debt relief expert and Freedom Debt Relief co-founder Andrew Housser suggests purchasing in-season fruits and vegetables, and even buying meat from a local farm if possible. He notes consumers can save up to 15 percent by buying in-season and local. How does this look in action? For the holidays, you could include seasonal ingredients like Brussels sprouts, squash, oranges, cranberries, sweet potatoes, broccoli and more. And, instead of heading to the supermarket for your holiday meat, you could explore pick-up options from a local source.
Get started by learning when your favorite fruits and vegetables are in season. Then start crafting your menus around them, taking advantage of sales and lower prices per pound when harvest is bountiful.
Shop the Sales
Although print ads may seem like a thing of the past, grocery store flyers are still a useful way to find sales and coupons. You can also visit the website of your favorite grocer to find deals online before you go.
It can be tempting to fall back on recognizable brands, especially if a brand-name product is “only” a few cents more than its generic counterpart. But these pricing discrepancies can add up over time. Mic estimates consumers may be able to save $16 per week, or $832 per year, by switching to generic groceries.
Buy Staples in Bulk
There are some non-perishable grocery staples worth buying in bulk, both for the sake of convenience and saving money.
- Baking supplies
- Canned goods
There are a few ways to approach buying in bulk. You can visit a store specializing in bulk grocery sales, or you can buy multiples of the same items from any store when they’re on sale. Successfully buying in bulk may require clearing out some cabinet or freezer space first.
Want to make your at-home food budget go farther? Use sales, seasonality, generic savings and bulk buying to your advantage.