Grocery Budgeting

By Connie Schlosberg

Recently DebMD conducted a survey asking how much you think a family of four averages on groceries per year: A) $5,329 or B) $10,995. Forty percent of voters selected A – including yours truly. The correct answer is B. (Yes, the average family spends $10,995 per year on groceries. That’s almost a $1,000 per month!)

I’ll be honest. Grocery savings is a pain point for me. I come from an Italian American background, and from the time I was very young and still today, food plays a role in just about everything we do in my family. EVERYTHING! So, cutting down the grocery bill seems like an impossible task that I wasn’t sure I wanted to do.

Nonetheless, after crunching the numbers, I really needed to come up with solid ways to save on groceries. One thing I learned; you’ll be surprised on how much you can save at the grocery store with a small amount of effort. It will certainly help you reach financial freedom.

I use the following grocery savings ideas, and these savings have been instrumental in helping me reduce my grocery budget significantly without sacrificing. Believe me, no one in my family is starving.

Here’s how you can spend less money on groceries and trim your budget:

1. Make a list and check it twice.

Seriously, shop with a list. You can go old school and write it on a notepad or use an app on your phone. I like to use the list available in Target’s app where I do a bulk of my shopping. One of the benefits with Target’s list is it shows you where the item is located and if there are any coupons or specials available. It prevents you from buying items that you don’t need or overbuying on produce that you end up tossing in the trash. How many times have you thrown out produce? C’mon. We all do it. Total waste!

 

2. Take Pics of Your Food.

No, not your last four-star meal for Instagram. Think like an inventory manager and take pictures of what’s in your kitchen before your shopping trip. When I’m in a rush and don’t have time for a list, I grab my phone and take pictures of the inside of my pantry, fridge, and freezer. It comes in handy when I’m at the store, and I can’t remember if I have a can of green beans or if I need more oregano. Try it. After your shopping trip, delete the pictures.

 

3. Clip those good ole paper coupons.

I don’t encourage you to go all out and do extreme couponing. I don’t believe in stockpiling hundreds of rolls of toilet paper. However, if you are loyal to certain brands, coupons from newspapers and magazines help keep the costs down. One trick I learned is to use the coupon on the smallest item that the coupon allows. For example, if you have a coupon for 20 cents off Heinz ketchup, buy the smaller bottle. You’ll save more.

 

4. Download grocery savings shopping apps.

I use Checkout 51 and Ibotta every time I shop. The savings add up and once you save $20, you can cash out and deposit the money in your bank account. Review the offers on each app before you get to the store. Adding them first helps you remember which products are good deals to buy. Once you are done shopping, upload your receipt.

 

5. Shop generic.

After I gave birth to my daughter and needed to save money, I learned quickly that generic products are usually just as good as the brand name. They are also cheaper. Sometimes generic is cheaper even when the brand is on sale or has a coupon offer. You will have to decide which is better for you. Please don’t get fixated on the brand. I have bought many generic canned goods, snacks, and household cleaning items. I’ve compared the ingredients and many times, it’s the same. It’s worth it when your goal is to save money.

 

One last thought: eat before you go. You never want to shop when you - or worse – your kids are “Starvin Marvins.”

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