Market prices are soaring across the board as consumers face the highest inflation rates in decades. Food prices are no exception. With the grocery bill being one of the most significant monthly expenses for some families, budgeting and finding ways to save on food has never been more critical.
Planning a food allowance may require a shift in shopping and even eating habits to help tame those grocery costs. Here are some tips to implement money-saving strategies so consumers can reduce their grocery bill anxiety.
1. Plan Your Budget
Every budget-setting process starts with calculating monthly fixed, variable, and discretionary expenses. Food purchases are variable, so it isn't always simple to pinpoint the exact amount spent on groceries regularly. Extra food purchased for a dinner party or a meal requiring unique ingredients can cause one month to be higher than another. It's best to save the grocery store receipts and calculate an average.
Knowing the amount of money available to spend on groceries can help families adjust some habits such as shopping at different stores, considering substitute food items and brands, and other alternatives.
2. Plan Your Meals
Many health professionals are encouraging families to consider meal planning. Meal planning has many benefits, and saving money on grocery bills is at the top of the list. Undoubtedly, meal planning requires some time and effort every week. It certainly isn't easy deciding what the family might want to eat on Friday when it's only Sunday.
However, once it becomes a habit, shoppers will appreciate how a more targeted grocery list will save them time, money, and the stress of deciding what meals to make on the fly while in the store or making multiple grocery trips each week, driving up your gas budget.
Also, meal planning couldn't be easier with so many available free resources. Although it can be overwhelming with all the options, searching online for different meals and recipes will save time and effort. It's especially great when searching for recipes with particular ingredients or a special diet. It's best to try a few different meals from a handful of websites to begin. If the meals were a hit, continue to follow those particular websites or food blogs for more recipes. Keep the tried and tested ones in a weekly or bi-weekly rotation.
3. Check Your Food Stock at Home
It's not uncommon to find a food item at the back of a pantry or cupboard that we didn't realize was still there. The same likely rings true for items at the back of the freezer. Before finalizing meal plans and grocery lists, check out the food items already at home. Doing this will help reduce waste and avoid duplicate purchases and help people get the pantry and freezer organized and cleared out before restocking.
4. Consider Substitutions
Using substitute items can result in cost savings without sacrificing the quality or taste of the meal. For example, fruits and vegetables that are not in season tend to be more expensive. Using different vegetables in meals than a recipe calls for usually doesn't compromise the meal. The meal should still taste great as long as the texture is the same, for example, using a different kind of squash than the recipe requires.
Consumers can also consider using frozen vegetables instead of fresh ones. Cooking with frozen vegetables can work just as well as fresh. However, the cooking time may need to be longer.
Using a different brand of product is also a cost-saving option. Consumers can compare the ingredients, but they are almost identical to another brand name in many cases.
4. Look for Sales
It's time-consuming to go to different stores to buy a few items on sale. Unless it's worth stocking up on an item at one store, it may not be sustainable to grocery store hop like that.
Grocery shoppers should find a store that price matches items. Shoppers can either bring the flier that shows the sale item or show the sale item directly from their cell phone. The cashier will then match the sale price of the identical item being purchased.
5. Use Rewards Apps and Loyalty Programs
Money-saving apps are available at every mobile user's fingertips to help save money on groceries. Fetch Rewards is a free app that encourages users to save receipts and scan them to earn rewards points. Fetch Rewards awards points for any kind of receipt and allows users to redeem them for various free gift card options like Amazon, Walmart, and many more.
Grocery stores often have loyalty rewards programs. Popular grocery stores like Kroger, Walmart, and Stop & Shop allow shoppers to earn points worth money that shoppers can use towards paying their grocery bills.
Another option is to find a credit card that allows shoppers to earn points when they pay for grocery purchases. With grocery bills being a relatively large and recurring expense for families, finding a credit card with a good rewards program can help save even hundreds of dollars annually.
Staying on budget when grocery shopping isn't easy, especially with soaring food prices. Some tips to save on food purchases include making meal planning a part of a weekly routine before grocery shopping, checking newspaper fliers and online for coupons and sales, and signing up with rewards apps and loyalty programs to earn points and rewards.
Shifting shopping habits this way will help shoppers save money on groceries and stay on budget.
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