In April, the USDA reported that the weekly cost of groceries for a family of four, male and female, 20 to 50 years, and two children, six to eight and nine to 11 years is $211.60 when being thrifty. At the same time last year, it was $157.60.
Here are six simple ways to save on groceries:
1. Meal Plan
A weekly meal plan can help you purchase groceries that align with your family’s food needs. A meal plan will also help you avoid expensive last-minute takeout orders.
The key is to plan for all meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. Include inexpensive meals throughout the week to help spread the cost of more expensive items such as meat. You can substitute meats for other proteins such as canned beans, which are much cheaper.
Once you’ve finished your meal plan, list everything you need and stick to it at the grocery store.
2. Cook from scratch
An effective way to reduce grocery bills is to make meals from scratch. When baked goods aren’t within your budget, you can whip up cookies, cupcakes, and even ice cream. Baking goods such as flour and sugar are cheaper when you purchase bulk. Pizza is also a from-scratch meal that can save you a lot of money. Make the base and sauce and keep it simple with cheese and pepperoni topping. Pre-made pizzas from the supermarket or ordering in will cost a lot more. Also, leftovers for lunch the next day are a must.
3. Purchase in-season produce
Knowing what is in season takes little more than a google search and a glance at that week’s sales. Sale items often are those that the supermarkets can purchase cheaply and in bulk. A great example is green beans and corn. When green bean and corn season is here, you can purchase these incredibly cheaply. And don’t just buy for fresh consumption. Purchase vegetables and fruit when they are cheap, wash and freeze for use at another time. Your bank balance will thank you.
4. Minimize food waste
A great way to save money on groceries is to cut back on waste. Reducing waste is made much easier when you meal plan. If you don’t meal plan but want to cut grocery costs by reducing your waste, keep a mental or physical list of items in your fridge and cross these off. The addition of sell-by dates may be helpful too. Eat leftovers within one or two days. If you do not get around to eating these, freeze them for another day.
5. Buy less meat
We mentioned this earlier, but it’s worth emphasizing the point. Along with spiraling meat costs, milk and egg prices have skyrocketed too. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, between April 2021 and April 2022, egg prices have risen 22.6%, chicken is up 16.4%, milk and beef are up nearly 15%, and fish and seafood are up 11.9%. Instead, swap meat for beans and other plant-based proteins such as lentils, chickpeas, and quinoa. Alternatively, plan for meat-free meals a couple of times a week. If you want to pep up a blander meal, use spices. Spices bought in bulk are relatively cheap and because you use so little each time, they will last. Also, now is the perfect time to plant herbs from seed. As the weather worsens you can freeze this year’s annuals for use another time.
With all this in mind, the key to saving money is creating a budget and sticking to it. To summarize:
- buy discounted items (there are apps for this, you can access offers for multiple stores in one place!)
- buy in-season produce
- eat less meat or substitute for plant-based proteins
- make meals from scratch
- account for leftovers
The My Money Manager app from Warren-Boynton allows for creating a budget, goals, and track spending. You can find out more at https://www.wbsb.net/internet-services/online-banking/ or visit one of our branches in New Berlin, Springfield, Modesto, or Palmyra.