Learning how to get your grocery spending under control is a tool that should be taught in school. But, it’s not and sometimes it’s a hard lesson to learn. Once you are out on your own there are a few things you must learn. How to stop spending too much on food is one of them. Not living at home means you pay for your own food.
Sometimes grocery shopping is accompanied by “sticker shock”. It’s that feeling you get when all the items from the shopping cart have been rung up and the total on the register is more than you imagined it would be.
Aside from your mortgage, your biggest monthly expense is likely groceries. And unlike your mortgage, your car payment, and most of the rest of your bills you actually have some control over how much you spend at the grocery store. We’ve put together some easy-to-do strategies you can use to get your grocery spending under control.
Learn How to Stop Spending Too Much on Food
Make A Grocery Budget
Within your household budget there is probably a grocery budget section. It’s important to see what money you have available each month for groceries after paying other important bills. Figure out with that money, what your actual grocery budget can be.
Start by tracking how much you’re spending on groceries for a few weeks. From there, come up with a weekly or monthly budget. Allot that money for groceries and whatever you do, don’t go over. It may mean making some changes like switching out name brands for store-brand foods, cutting back on convenience roods, or adding some low-cost meals to the menu.
Next, try cutting back your budget by $20 per month. Keep going and see how low you can go. The remaining tips will help you do that without feeling like you’re depriving yourself and get your grocery spending under control
Keep A Price Book to Keep Grocery Spending Under Control
Who doesn’t love a bargain or a good deal? They are all over the store, but do you know if what they advertise as a good deal is actually saving you money?
Keep a little notebook in your purse or keep a text document on your phone with the regular prices of the items you buy most often. Not only can you see if that “deal” really is a deal, but you can also determine what kitchen staple is cheapest where and adjust your shopping accordingly. Your price book will also come in handy when you browse through weekly grocery flyers. You can decide if a flyer deal is worth driving to the store long before you ever set a foot out the door.
Many times stores will lower prices on hot food items to get people into the store. While that is great, it also comes with some deceptive tactics. Lower hot items but raising prices on other things like some staple foods is what usually is happening. This way they figure people buy the deals and the staples and they don’t lose money. Guess what, that’s not a deal.
Come Up With A Few Frugal Dishes
You don’t have to make drastic changes and eat nothing but rice and beans or ramen all week. Instead, think of a few inexpensive dishes your family enjoys. Or how about a big pot of soup or chili. Often meatless dishes will be your best frugal bet or use meat in small portions on frugal dish days.
Try meal planning as that helps you know exactly what to buy when shopping. If you like to shop weekly, you can get a weekly meal planner. Some even like to plan further ahead so this 100 days of meals is a neat thing to have for ideas. Knowing what your meals really help on the spending. No more just grabbing thinking you will use it. That ends in a lot of wasted food usually.
Enjoying frugal meals and even planning out meals weekly will make a big difference in your budget. Don’t forget to use up all leftovers too. If you don’t, that’s throwing money away.
Crazy as it might sound, shopping online is a great way to get your grocery spending under control. Many stores offer online shopping, and it’s super easy. Visit stores like Kroger, Walmart, etc… add items to your cart like from your meal planner, and checkout. Personally, I prefer grocery stores’ ordering services more because they have sales and digital coupons to help me save more. Then just pick it up at the store or have it delivered.
While there might be a delivery fee, you will save because you are not in the store being tempted to buy items you don’t need. I’ve found it also helps me to see what my grocery bill is before I click purchase. I then remove or add items to stay within my budget more easily.
Cut Out The Extras
Make a list before you head to the store and stick to it. All those little extras like the fancy bread from the bakery or the candy you grabbed at checkout start to add up. Get in the habit of skipping those extras unless there’s a good reason to buy them. Stick to your list and you’ll cut your grocery bill by quite a bit each week. It’s amazing how all those little extras add up.
Bringing kids with you to the store also can make it hard as they always want a treat. Letting kids know before entering, that nobody needs treats, and sticking to it. No candy, or toys.
Eating Out Less
Stop eating out! Yes, I said it. While I know how hard that can be, it is a very key fact in keeping your grocery spending under control. Eating out might not be groceries, but if you look at it from a budget standpoint it is. You are not cooking at home, you are eating groceries out. Those groceries are costing you more than if you bought those ingredients and cooked them at home.
Yes, there are some days when you don’t want to cook. So, for those days, if you must eat out keep in mind that money spent has to be “grocery money”. Account for that in your grocery budget. Finding discounts or coupons for restaurants will help big time. Not ordering appetizers or drinks helps keep dining out costs lower as well. Try out some of the copycat recipes, make ahead freezer meals, and meal prep recipes for days you want something good at home but don’t have the time to think up a supper menu at the last minute.
Instead of eating out, make pizzas with your kids. You not only have fun but you’re teaching them cooking skills, too. Plus, you have more control over your eating habits and will tend to eat healthier meals at home.
Final Thoughts on Keeping Your Grocery Spending Under Control
Give these tips a try and see if you don’t start to see big savings on a weekly basis. What you do with all the extra money each month is up to you.
Save up for a fun summer vacation, pay off those credit cards or start building your financial safety net.