If you are like most families, your food costs eat up a big part of your overall budget. Cutting back on the amount of money that you spend each week on meals can go a long way in helping to trim your household expenses. Here are five ways that you can save money on family meals.
The cornerstone of all budget eating lies in meal planning. You cannot expect to stay within your budget if you simply walk into the grocery store and throw things into the cart without a plan.
It is well worth your time and effort to sit down once per week and plan out the meals for the upcoming days. By doing this, you can mix and match ingredients. For example, use the leftover smoked pork that you made the night before for sandwiches to turn into nachos the next night. Meal planning will also ensure that you stick to a pre-determined grocery list.
Leverage Coupons and Rebates
There is great power in using coupons. Gone are the days of having to deal with clipping coupons from your Sunday newspaper. Most major grocery outlets offer electronic coupons. All that you need to do is to download the merchant’s smartphone app and select the coupons that you want to use on your next grocery trip.
In addition to coupons, you will see savings on your grocery bill if you take advantage of the many rebates available to smart shoppers. Walmart rebates are particularly value-driven, helping you to get back money on the products that you use the most.
Buy in Bulk
Once you identify the foods and ingredients that your family uses the most, you can look to buy these items in bulk. For many families, this may mean buying ground beef in bulk and freezing it for later use.
Be sure to keep your pantry stocked with the essentials that your family eats the most. For example, you may see great savings by buying big jars of peanut butter in bulk if your kids are fans of this product. Other items that work with bulk shopping include macaroni and cheese, canned soups, rice, and cereal.
While you do not need to completely cut out meat from your diet, going vegetarian for a few meals per week can save you a significant amount of money. The meat in any meal is generally the most expensive element. Eliminating that cost and building a menu around plant-based sources can yield big savings.
Instead of meat, choose alternate sources that fill you up and deliver that all-important protein. Good choices include beans, legumes, eggs, and tofu. For example, a vegetarian chili stuffed with a variety of beans, tomatoes, and corn is affordable and filling.
Shop the Sales
Savvy shoppers know how to take advantage of sales items. It is a good idea to check your area grocery store circulars each week to determine where you can find the best deals. Once you know what is on sale each week, you can build your menu around these items.
If you see an item that you use regularly at a rock-bottom price, be sure to stock up on it while it is so affordable. Most grocery stores go through sales in approximately 12-week cycles. Once you become purposeful about shopping the sales, you will begin to see these patterns and be able to plan your menus accordingly.
These five tips will help you to get the best bang for your buck with your grocery budget. Knowing when and how to shop will ensure that you are not throwing money away on meals each month.