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Budgeting for Groceries


Grocery Budget – No Wiggle Room?

Many people have the mistaken belief that your grocery bill is something that has little to no wiggle room. After all, your family has to eat, and skimping on food isn’t really an option. However if you’re spending a good percentage of your income on grocery bills each week and month, it’s time to take a good, hard look at where you can cut back at the store to trim that bill. These tips will help make budgeting for your groceries a stress-free event:

budgeting for groceries

Look at all the Pre-Packaged Items — Photo by qmnonic (Flickr.com)

  1. Define how much you want to spend each week or month: Don’t make the mistake of walking into the grocery store with no idea as to how much money you’re going to spend, because you’ll end up overspending almost every time. Instead outline how much money you’re willing to spend each week or month on groceries so you have an idea of what amount you have to play with.
  2. Take a set amount of cash with you to the grocery store: To ensure that you stick to the aforementioned budget, take a set amount of cash with you into the grocery store. By doing so, it forces you to reevaluate your purchases and decide if the items you’re buying are must-have items, or ones that you’re buying on a whim that you don’t really need.
  3. Plan multi-purpose meals ahead of time: Meal planning before your grocery store visits is a lifesaver when it comes to saving money because you know exactly what you need to buy. Choose meals that you can create more than one dish from; for instance do a baked whole chicken one night for dinner and then use the leftover chicken for chicken fajitas the next night and you could even use the chicken carcass to make chicken soup for a third meal. This helps keep meals interesting without requiring that you buy several different types of food.
  4. Stick to the list: Once you get in the store don’t buy things because they look good. Buying extra things that aren’t on your list adds up quickly. Grocery stores are designed by experts to encourage high-priced impulse purchases that result from wandering up and down each aisle. Make a list, visit only those aisles in the store, and then check out. Don’t let them trick yo into buying the high margin items.
  5. Scrap brand loyalty and opt for store brands: Instead of spending extra money to buy a brand name item, opt for the store brand item instead. Most of the time the items are made by the same company and have the same ingredient list, and the only thing you’re paying extra for is the fancy label. Even if you have coupons the store brand may still be cheaper. Of course once you’ve tried the store brand, if you find the quality is inferior you can always try something else.
  6. Avoid Pre-Processed Food- The less processing an item has the lower the cost. A Frozen chicken dinner will cost much more than the individual components and won’t give you the left-overs for the next meal. Make it from scratch and it will be healthier and cheaper.
  7. Prepare at Least One Meatless Meal a Week- Meat is the most expensive component of a meal… by cutting out meat you can drastically cut the cost. How? What about home-made macaroni and cheese? Or Beans and Rice? or that Southern favorite Pinto Beans and corn bread? Mexican- Bean Burritos? Vegetarian Chili? Spaghetti and Mushroom sauce? Linguini Alfredo? Omelets? Quiche? IHOP Serves Waffles and Pancakes for dinner… so can you. The list is almost endless.

Once you start budgeting for your family’s groceries and planning your trips ahead of time the process gets easier and easier. You’ll find all sorts of tricks for saving at the store, locate which brands have the best version of different items, and learn what days are best to shop for sales. Before you know it, huge grocery bills will be a thing of the past, without sacrificing good meals.

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