5 Ways to Trim Your Monthly Grocery Budget
Make a Plan
There is little that is more frustrating than going to the cupboard or refrigerator and staring at all the unrelated food items and wondering what in the world you are going to fix for supper. Start by creating a master menu of meals your family enjoys. Beside each meal list all of the ingredients required to prepare it. Before you go grocery shopping, look over your master menu and decide what meals you'd like, and use the ingredient list for those meals to create your shopping list. This helps ensure you get all of the items you need, while keeping you from wasting money on items you don't.
Eat Before You Shop
Hunger makes the best sauce, as the old saying goes, which makes shopping on an empty stomach a terrible idea. Everything just seems to look better when you're hungry, which makes you more likely to overspend your budget. Eating a good, satisfying meal before you hit the grocery aisle can help you stick to your shopping list.
Supply and demand is in full vigor when it comes to your local grocery store. In-season produce tends to cost less than out-of-season produce, and it usually tastes better, too. Planning your meals around abundant, seasonal veggies instead of more expensive meat-based meals can help cut your grocery budget. Buying low-cost seasonal produce in bulk, then canning or freezing the excess will help you stretch your saving throughout the year.
Buy in Bulk When It Makes Sense
You can often get a better deal by buying in quantity, and you can get extra savings if you participate in the store's customer loyalty program, according to Glynn Jenkins, director of communications and public relations for the Atlanta Division of the Kroger Company. For example, a family pack of steaks might cost $1 per pound less than buying individual portions. If you have a freezer and can store the excess, you'll score a significant savings. But a lower initial cost doesn't do you much good if you wait until it's freezer-burned and you end up throwing half of it away.
Use Coupons Judiciously
Despite all the hype about super-couponing, you're probably not going to be able to buy $468.97 worth of groceries for $9.12 by using coupons. Still, manufacturer's coupons are like free money, so if you have coupons for items that you planned to buy anyway, you might as well use them. Coupons can be especially valuable with used in conjunction with in-store specials. You'll get the best bang for your buck if you use your coupons for items that are already on sale and at stores that double the coupon's value. "Each 50-cents off manufacturer’s coupon can save the shopper one full dollar," Jenkins said.