Food costs are a big part of any family’s spending, for good reason (we all have to eat!). If you’re on a budget and wondering how to save money on groceries, check out these simple tips to keep your average grocery bill as low as possible.
How Much Should You Budget for Food?
Many budget experts suggest spending about 10 to 15% of your total take-home pay on food, which includes grocery shopping, takeout and restaurant visits. To know if your average food cost per month is where it should be, start keeping track of all the places you’re buying food and calculate the percentage. Remember to include beverages, as you might be surprised to learn how much those morning stops at the coffee shop or evening happy hours with work friends are eating into your monthly food budget.
How Do You Grocery Shop on a Budget?
Thankfully, eating well doesn’t have to break the bank. To keep your average food costs as low as possible, you need to do two things: figure out your grocery budget and make a grocery list. While there are plenty of folks who wander the aisles, randomly picking up whatever looks appealing, grocery shopping on a budget is much easier when you plan and stick to a prepared list.
To put together your list, consider your capabilities and schedule. If you have extra time to spend in the kitchen, you can get creative by making your own DIY condiments or pinch pennies by cooking dried beans instead of canned.
Another tip: check the Weekly Ad to see what’s on sale and consider building your meal plan around those items. If you have the space (and room in your budget), buy these items in bulk to save money on future grocery trips. You don’t have to be an extreme couponer to enjoy extra savings – you can easily and conveniently clip digital coupons online or on the Kroger app.
To make your grocery run even easier, remember that the best time to grocery shop is when you’re full and focused; avoid shopping while hungry, distracted or pressed for time as you’re more likely to grab items that aren’t on your list or part of your meal plan. Consider using Pickup or Delivery – you’ll get the same great items (at the same great prices) without having to navigate the aisles at all!
How Do You Plan Affordable Dinners?
Dinner is often the most debated meal of the day, and it’s likely that the majority of your grocery budget goes toward its ingredients. So what can you do to cut costs when it comes to figuring out what’s for dinner?
As mentioned earlier, planning is key! Avoid the temptation to grab fast food or pay more for convenience items by staying prepared and stocking up on staples. For some easy and budget-friendly dinner options, build your meals around more affordable proteins, such as chicken, ground beef or beans. Add an inexpensive grain and round out the meal with in-season produce for inexpensive, fresher options; choose frozen veggies when fresh are unavailable or the price is too high.