How To Save Money On Food
Part 2 of 2
Keep a price book
- Record the price per pound or per ounce for the family staples. Your price book becomes your baseline for figuring if sale items are a good purchase and if fresh, frozen, canned, or dry works out to the best deal.
Plan a menu
- For many families, half the battle of the food budget is resolved by planning meals, having the food on hand, and sticking to the menu.
Keep a running list
- Your running shopping list can keep you from having to make costly, last-minute purchases. Keep staples that are purchased at low prices stocked, and plan ahead for when it's time to restock.
Thrifty shoppers figure out what works for their families. Consider the pros and cons of some popular suggestions.
- If you've made the decision to keep name brand, prepared foods in your budget, couponing can save you hundreds of dollars. If you shop mostly for "real food" and store brands, you may not benefit as much from couponing.
- The ounce-for-ounce price of many food items is significantly cheaper at a warehouse. In addition to the cost per serving, also consider your family's eating habits. Some families break large packages into serving sizes to mentally "trick" themselves into pacing consumption. Can you pace yourself, or do you eat more when you buy more?
- Shopping the perimeter of a store is a good practice for your weekly shopping trip. However, many economic purchases such as dry beans, rice, canned tomatoes, and oatmeal are embedded in the middle of the store. You'll need to go down those aisles, picking up what's on your list and skipping over what's not.
- Limiting shopping to once a month limits your opportunity to put extras in the cart. Shopping at a store with a limited selection of items and brands may also help you to spend less. Consider having the more price-conscious shopper do most of the shopping for your family. If you love crunching numbers, you shop. If that describes your spouse or partner, get him/her involved.
- Healthy food is expensive, but not as expensive as addictive junk food. Some foods feel like their chemically engineered to create cravings. Keeping foods your family finds highly addictive out of the house saves money and keeps the family focused on the goal that food is fuel for the body.
Trimming the food budget requires hard work -- work to plan your strategy, work to prepare foods yourself, and work to follow through on your goals. As with all hard work, the rewards await!