Tips and Tricks to Manage your Grocery Budget

For most families, the grocery budget seems to be the hardest to control. Busy seasons might mean more wasted money on food waste and fast food, whereas the holidays could mean higher grocery bills for hosting social gatherings. How can a person save in the kitchen?

Address Food Waste

One way to manage your grocery budget is to take a good look at your food waste. How much food are you wasting each month? If you frequently throw away produce and other fresh goods, it could be a sign that you need to buy less. A lot of wasted food may also be a sign that you need to be more disciplined in the kitchen and actually prepare and eat the food you buy rather than ordering a pizza at the last minute. Every time you have to throw food away, it’s like throwing away a few dollars here and there. According to USAToday, “American households throw away about $640 each worth of food every year.” Who wouldn’t want an extra $640 at the end of the year for holiday spending or a small family vacation?

Meal Prep and Plan

The number one reason why most individuals and families don’t plan meals is because they believe it’s too time consuming, but it does not have to be. Even if it took you one hour a week to plan – which could help you save about $640 or more a year on food waste and other costs – that would save you about $12 an hour. For individuals making $12-15 an hour, the savings are like taking a paid week off of work.

To make life even simpler, look for pre-made meal plans. Several are available for free on the Internet, while other paid meal plans can cost about $10 a month. Specialized meal plans, such as 5 Dinners 1 Hour or Once a Month Meals, give shopping lists and instructions on how to prepare food in advance. For 5 Dinners 1 Hour, instructions are given for five meals to be prepped at the beginning of the week. The meals are then quickly cooked each night of the week with very little time and mess. Once a Month Meals offers instructions on how to prepare meals that can be kept in the freezer, reheated and eaten all month.

Even if you do not want to pursue a formal meal prep and plan, try to double one meal a week for the freezer. The best meals to double – and even triple – are lasagnas, casseroles, chili, soup, carnitas and meatballs. This method will slowly build up your freezer stash, affording you minimal grocery shopping some weeks.

Eat Less and Eat Simpler

As a whole, America has issues with overeating. If you’re struggling with the scale and with your grocery bill, eating less might be the solution you need. Blindly serving food onto plates for your family can mean that each person is eating one-fourth to one-half of a cup more than they really need. That little bit of extra food each night adds up.

Along with eating less, try eating simpler. Making delicious gourmet meals is great, but save the filet mignon and lobster recipes for special occasions. Instead, turn to simpler foods, such as beans, rice, chicken and eggs for meal staples. Two of the cheapest meals to prepare are bean burritos and eggs and toast. Meals don’t have to be fancy, just filling and healthy.