Do you like living? You do? Great! Then chances are that you like eating. Why? Because you have to eat to live, of course! And honestly, what is more fun than eating a spectacularly cooked meal at a 5-star restaurant in an exotic locale? Well, not much in my book. Still, I would put saving money right at the top of that list as well. Unfortunately, one great way to save money is to start cooking at home – which means having to endure that dreaded trip to the grocery store.
I know, I know. Cooking at home can be so time-consuming. It can be so stressful. For people like me who love to eat but not cook, the act of cooking can be soooo…freaking…boring. Unfortunately, the fact is that eating at home can save you money. I know from experience. For years, we spent our money recklessly on eating out. Eventually, we began wondering where all of our money was going. When we finally sat down to do a written budget, we learned that our dollars were flying straight out of our bank accounts and into our stomachs, courtesy of our local restauranteurs.
Saving Money on Your Grocery Budget
While saving money on food starts with eating at home, the fact is that you could still be spending much more than you need to if you aren’t careful about your grocery shopping. Eating steamed crab legs at home every night would sure feel like I’d entered the Elysian Fields. However, my pocket-book wouldn’t like it so much. Here are a few tips on how to set a grocery budget that won’t break the bank.
1) Eat Less Meat
Yep, I said it. Call me un-American. Call me a treehugger. Call me a freak. I don’t care. The fact is that most of us eat way too much meat. A little meat is fine. 8 portions a day is a little much. Not only is eating too much meat a detriment to our health, it can also put our finances on life support. In addition, the whole “meat” industry isn’t particularly good for the environment. It consumes a ton of resources just to get that tasty burger to your plate. Plus, all that animal poop is one of the biggest contributors to methane gas emissions – which is a greenhouse gas. So, next time you are thinking about chowing down on that 3 lb. steak, add some veggies to your meal and choose the 8 oz. steak instead.
2) Plan Meals Around Sale Items
Do need to eat steak or hamburger at every meal? Is asparagus something you just can’t live without on a daily basis? Well, be prepared to take a hit to your grocery budget. However, if you are flexible in your meal planning, you are much more likely to save money. How? Buy, cook, and eat what is on sale. This can save you thousands of dollars over the course of the year.
3) Shop While You are Full
Hey, hungry pants! Don’t go grocery shopping while your tummy is growling at you. Most of us have probably heard this before, but it bears repeating. If you are hungry when you go shopping, even the brussel sprouts start to look good. When everything looks yummy, you buy things that you normally wouldn’t…and things that you don’t even need. So, eat before you go shopping. It will keep you from starving the rest of your budget.
4) Don’t Buy More Than You Need
I know a lot of people who love places like Sam’s Club. They love the ability to buy in bulk. Often times, even at the regular grocery stores, you can find better deals on products that come in larger quantities. (Be careful, though. This is not always the case.) However, it is only a great deal if you are going to be able to eat all that you buy. If you are paying more for product that you won’t use, you’ve probably wasted money – even if it is priced less per pound. Should you find that you have more food than you can inhale at one sitting, make sure you eat the left-overs. Better yet, there are some items that you can use in another meal. Take that pot roast, and make vegetable beef soup. Somethings taste even better the second time around.
5) Eat Cheap Meals at Least Once a Week
Here is one for you: eat cheaply. Use coupons to buy cheap brand name products and eat those at least once a week. Don’t have coupons? Then buy generic. Store brands taste waaaay better than they did when I was a kid. I’m not sure if the quality has increased or if they just taste better because now I’m spending my own money. Regardless, try them out if you haven’t for a while. You may be surprised at how good they taste.
Better yet, make breakfast for dinner. Traditional breakfast food is pretty darn cheap. In our house, we love eating eggs at least once a week Furthermore, you can get bacon (or turkey bacon) and pancake mix very cheaply at the grocery store. Eat breakfast for dinner once a week, and watch your grocery bill experience some George Costanza like shrinkage. (Was that too much???)
Let’s face it: there are tons of ways to save money on grocery shopping. Pick the methods that work best for you, and you’ll be saving money in no time.
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