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You and Your Grocery Bill

by Nikki Willhite

Do you ever wonder if you are spending too much money on groceries? Do you think that just because you don't eat out that you are doing a good job with food expenses?

If you look up the statistical data for 2016, you will find that the average family of 4 spends nearly $200 each week for food.  That is a $800 per month.

I am not surprised that some people spend that much for food.  I have been to stores like Safeway and seen the prices.  They are twice, if not more, than the prices at Winco.  If you want to quadruple the price of your groceries, try QVC or Trader Joes.  Winco may not be the most pretty store, but the savings are unbeatable.

If you want to save money on groceries, start with shopping at the most economical store.  One thing you won't find at Winco is stale food.  Food moves in and out of there to quick to get old.

Grocery Shopping Tips

Spend more time in the produce department, and less time in the cereal aisle.  If you must buy cereal, but the generic brand.  If you kids are picky, and don't want anything other than food from the boxes they see on television, buy one name brand box.  When that gets empty, fill it up with the generic brand.  They will never know the difference.

Most of the nutrition in the store is found on the perimeter of the store,  in the refrigerated sections for fruits, vegetables, dairy and meat products.  Avoid going down aisles with food that is over-priced and of little nutritional value.

Avoid over processed food, sugar laden food, and food full of chemicals.  Again, this food is not frugal and not healthy.

Always shop with a list and plan your meals for the week, making use of any leftovers from the previous week.  If you have leftover sour cream, make beef stroganoff or cheese enchiladas.  Don't pour money down the drain or put it in the kitchen trash.  Just because you have a food budget doesn't mean you can buy food until you hit that number, including extras you really don't need.

Shop alone if possible.  The more hands and eyes that go with you, the more you will spend.

Buy as many items as you can in bulk at a warehouse like Costco.   Take advantage of bulk savings.  Use your freezer to store items for a future meals.

Keep your tastes simple. If you develop a taste for gourmet snacks and food, you will never keep your food budget down. You don't have to eat meat every night.  You can get the same nutrition from beans and eggs. Even vegetables have protein.  You can still have a hot meal for dinner with sandwiches and soup.

Don't be above eating tuna noodle casserole or macaroni and cheese.  Kids usually like macaroni and cheese from the box, but when macaroni and cheese is homemade with fresh cheese it is a real comfort food.

Sometimes it is not the food you eat, but what you put with it that makes the difference.  Macaroni and cheese served with corn is not nearly as appetizing as macaroni served with a colorful lime jello salad, cherry jello with bananas or bright orange carrots.  Plan your meals using your sense of sight.

Add soup and rolls to dinner for those who need more food.

If you don't know the price of food, keep a price book. List all the foods you buy on your computer, and then write down what you have been paying for them. Carry it with you when shopping. When you see a true sale, stock up.

Make a place in your home to store food. You have more room than you think. You can store a ton of food under your bed, and upper closet space is usually wasted. The price of food is going up. When you see it on sale, you need to stock up.

Cook as many items as you can from scratch. When time is limited, cook items that are easier, but still less expensive than fast food.

If you are eating out for dinner, just stop it. The prices, as well as the portions, are insane. Go out to lunch instead. The prices are significantly less, and you can often split a meal among family members.

Don't be a "meat and potatoes" family. In addition to the cost, you will be digging your own graves with your knife and fork.  That goes for hamburgers also.

Have at least one slow cooker recipe for days when you know you will be unable or too tired to cook dinner.

Plan your meals, make economical substitutions in recipes when possible, and cook, bake and freeze to make life easier. Your food is building the bodies your children will use for a lifetime.  Spend your frugal dollars on food that will strengthen them for their future years.

About the Author: Nikki Willhite, mother of 3 and an interior design graduate, has been writing and publishing articles on the topic of frugal living for over a decade. Visit her at www.frugalhappyfamilies.com - where you will find hundreds of frugal living tips and articles. Frugal Happy Families- more than just money! 

 

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