Food is one of those variable expenses that obviously can’t be avoided completely, but with strategic shopping and planning, can cost less. Even without coupon clipping, which can be tedious and time-consuming, there are still some easy ways that you can lower these expenses. The following are some ways you can save money on food:
Stick to your shopping list
Spending way more than you planned on at the grocery store can be extremely easy without having a shopping list. Make a list of only the necessities before you head out on a shopping trip, and only go to the aisles you need to go to. Otherwise, if you need to browse through the entire grocery store, you can end up with far more than you planned on buying, which can also mean a lot of food going to waste if it expires before you get a chance to eat it. Another easy way to stick to your shopping list is to order your groceries online. This service is being offered in more and more cities throughout the country, and whether you have your groceries delivered or you pick them up, ordering online can make it easier to avoid unnecessary purchases.
Stock up when there’s a good sale
If your grocer is having a great sale on one of your favorite non-perishable foods or pantry items, take advantage of it by stocking up. Even if you’ve already got enough back at home, stock up anyway, assuming it’s something you’ll eventually need and won’t expire. Without taking advantage of good sale prices when they’re around, you’ll eventually need to purchase replacements and they might not be on sale when you do need them.
If you live within driving distance of several different grocery stores, compare the prices for food that you purchase often, as they could potentially vary significantly from one grocer to the next. It might be more convenient to just do all of your shopping at the closest grocery store, but maybe the other store down the street offers better prices. If you don’t have many options, try expanding your search online and ordering pantry staples from various online vendors if prices beat your local supermarket’s prices.
Completely eliminate eating out
One of the easiest ways to go over your food budget is by eating out at restaurants too often. If you’re trying to cut down on expenses, avoid dining out entirely, unless you’re celebrating something special. When you do go to a restaurant, make the most of it by saving leftovers for the next day. You can also cut down on your expenses when dining out by using coupons, taking advantage of promotions and specials, and even dining out on your birthday (many restaurants offer free appetizers, desserts, or entrees to patrons celebrating a birthday).
Cook food ahead of time
If your schedule is hectic, it can be hard to prepare your dinner every night when you get home from work, and picking up something on the way home or ordering in can just be easier. If your busy schedule makes it too difficult to cook every night, pick just one day (such as Sunday) when you can take the time to prepare meals for the entire week. This can help you cut down on food expenses and can also help you make healthier choices.
Make bulk purchases
Whether you have a wholesale club membership, clip coupons often, or prefer to do a lot of your shopping online, making bulk purchases can help you save a lot of money. On top of saving more money, bulk purchases also mean fewer trips to the grocery store, which will also help you save time. If you have the room for it in your home, consider the benefits of purchasing a deep freezer, which can allow you to store more food from your bulk purchases.
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Nothing above is meant to provide financial or tax advice. You should meet with appropriate professionals for such services.