How to Really Save Money on Food & GroceriesMay 18, 2018
If you are a long-time reader, you already understand that “Food” is one of your Big 3 Expenses along with “Housing” and “Transportation.” These Big Three, as they are called, take up more than half of most people’s budgets, so we are always on the lookout to save money in these categories. However, with the price of food not showing any sign of coming down, food is taking an increasingly bigger chunk out of our budget.
How can we save money on the cost of food and groceries?
I know, by now you might be thinking I’m going to hit you with the don’t-buy-Starbucks-make-your-own-coffee line but no. I’m going to hit you with a different psychology. For tips, see our blog Money Saving Tips for Grocery Shopping. Hopefully, here, some of these ideas might be new to you as they lean more towards mindset. Also, if you haven’t read my article on the True Cost of Eating Out, you just may want to take a quick look at that, too, because that article will shake your foundation to its core.
Cutting your grocery budget isn’t always the easiest place to save extra money but it’s worth the effort. If you can learn to keep your expenses down, especially on the Big Three, you will be on the path to enjoying a very comfortable retirement. The less you spend now, the more you can save for tomorrow.
The Biggest and Only Real Rule
When saving money on Food or anything, there is one important rule: Be a Planner. Why do you have to become a planner? Because the majority of money we spend on food is unplanned and last minute. Those two ingredients usually serve up an over-the-budget entrée. So, becoming a planner is the key to saving money when shopping for groceries.
Some people are Super Planners. They plan and prepare all the meals for an entire month in one or two days, like the first weekend of every month. Hey, if you can do that, then kudos to you. There are 30-Day meal plans free all over the web if you want to give it a go. I had five kids, however, and I was lucky to plan out rolls of toilet paper for the month, let alone 30 meals and cook for them. But, we have to become planners, even in the loosest form of the word. Start slow and build, just like working any muscle. Start with planning lunches and a dinner or two a week. Do that for an entire month, then add another day. Within 6 months, you’ll be planning out the entire week’s menu.
Make sure to plan for a flex meal or an eating out meal if it’s in your budget. Yes, you heard me. You’ll want to be cooking and eating at home in order to save the most money but you knew that already. Think about it this way: eating at home also gives you the opportunity to eat healthier. That’s a big bonus.
Planning ahead means that one night when you’re making spaghetti, you can prepare a huge pot and freeze a couple of bags full of sauce to warm up later in the month. Planning ahead means you can pack your own lunches and snacks for school and work. When eating lunch out cost you in excess of $5 a day per person, this can save you big bucks each month. Again, our Money Saving Tips article tells you how.
Being a good planner means creating a list. I’ve got to admit, I love lists and so do a lot of really famous people. Sir Richard Branson wrote an entire blog about his love of lists. I recommend that you become a lover of lists, too. Make out a weekly shopping list and stick to it. Remember, grocery shopping day is for grocery shopping and nothing else. No gifts, no household goods, and no extra items at all should find their way into your cart. The only thing that goes in there is food and food alone.
When you visit the supermarket, stick to the perimeters. There you will get all the unprocessed essentials you need. Dairy products, meats, bread and so on are all on the outside parameters of most stores. Most things in the isles are processed and not as healthy. Plus, you get the benefit of avoiding tempting processed foods like cookies. Processed foods drain the budget and are usually very unhealthy.
If you pay with cash, like using the envelop budget we suggest, you’ll spend less money. Psychologists have proven that you spend less money when you pay with cash than when you use a debit or credit card. Paying with cash makes you feel the pain of spending money. Credit cards have a way of distancing themselves from that same psychology. I don’t believe, however, that spending money is a bad thing so I don’t want you to think so either. I talk about this in my Money Mindset course but for now, I’ll allow it so you keep the benefits of this false believe.
How about doing a vegetarian meal once or twice a week? You can find some amazing recipes on the web and save money on the cost of meat. You can get your protein from a vegetable that night instead. It’s extremely healthy. Want to be even healthier? Get rid of the soda or pop or Coke or Pepsi, whatever you call it. Get rid of that and you’ll not only get rid of a major expense but you’ll get rid of the sugar or worse, high fructose corn syrup, too. Diet sodas are unhealthier choices, with all the gross chemicals added. Just get back to basics. I make my water bottles each morning and add cucumbers or ginger to give them a little flavor. Water is so good for you. Do your best to train yourself to drink more. If you can’t, just start slow by not ordering a soda each time you go out.
Using these ideas will help you save some cash which then can be diverted into other categories within your budget. When in doubt, put your extra money into savings. Too many Americans have no money saved for retirement and that is just bad planning. Don’t put off creating a plan that works for you and your family. Be the planner right now. Blessings in abundance.
Oh, one last thing! Couponing is NOT saving money. Couponing costs you more in time and effort than it would ever be worth in money. Nobody "saves" their way to wealth by cutting coupons. They save their way to wealth by literally saving and investing REAL money. Don't be a couponer.
Michelle R Russell
© The Prosperity Process, LLC
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