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Tips For Grocery Shopping On A Budget

Aug 14, 2008
It is hard for many families to live within their means in today's economy. As a stay at home mom of two I had to figure out how to make the most of my grocery budget with prices constantly going up. Here are a few tips that have helped me and will hopefully help you too.

Planning Your Budget

The best way to live frugally is to plan ahead. It is always a good idea to head to the grocery store with a plan and a budget in place. Here are a few tips on planning your grocery budget that may help you stretch food dollars:

1. Calculations - Get a rough estimate of the cost to feed each person in your household. Throughout the years, I've found that it takes approximately $30 - $37 dollars a week to feed one person - it may be more or less, depending on how much your family eats and where you live. Here is a simple formula to figure out your weekly grocery budget:

(number of family members) x $34 (average) = (weekly grocery budget)

Since there are four people in my home; I have $136 allotted for groceries. With any luck I can bring this down with coupons and store sales.

2. Plan your meals for the week and write them down. Keep them simple: meat, vegetable, carbohydrates. If possible, plan to use the same type of meat twice in one week; you can buy in bulk, which is generally cheaper than buying in small amounts. Hamburger, for example, is a good meat to use twice. One day you can make hamburgers; two days later, you can make tater tot casserole.

3. After you have planned your menus for the week make a list and put the price next to each item. You can easily get this amount from the sales ads and estimate the other items on your list. This doesn't have to be exact. If you generally buy the same items often then you probably have a good idea of the cost.

4. Round up to the nearest dollar. Even if you're buying something that's $0.39, write it down as a dollar. Those pennies add up; I end up spending $10 to $20 less than I planned to, using this rule.

5. Add up the totals as you shop. Since you are rounding up you can probably keep a running total in your head. Once you have reached that total, stop and check your meal plan. If you're at the amount that you allotted yourself for and only have three meals covered, you need to reassess your menus.

Although every household has different eating habits, this is a good start getting on a grocery budget. Try to tailor this plan to fit your family's needs.

Eating Healthy on a Budget

The plain truth is that it's hard to buy healthy foods when you're on a tight budget; noodles and rice become your main staples. However, being on a tight budget doesn't mean that you can't get the vegetables and fruits you need. The next time you make a grocery list, keep these thoughts in mind:

Not all vegetables are created equally - Buy frozen if you can't afford fresh. The juice in canned vegetables is where most of your vitamins are. Not so with frozen vegetables; the vitamins are still in the food itself. Just like with meat, you can often save when you buy frozen vegetables in bulk. Purchase big, resealable bags of frozen veggies so that you can use what you need and put the rest back in the freezer.

Buy potatoes, noodles or rice, but use them sparingly. Give larger amounts of vegetables, with the starches as a side dish.

Buy carrots as snack foods for the kids. You can buy a large bag for low cost, peel them and then cut them up. Not only do they get vitamins this way, but they're also low in calories. Most kids like carrots because they're sweet.

Buy in Bulk

Whenever you can - and if you have the freezer room - buy your meats and vegetables in bulk. You can save a lot of money this way. Meat is usually cheaper by the pound when you buy the big packs.

You can do many things to cut costs at the grocery store; these are just a few tips. However, the biggest thing is to look at cost vs. amount. While generic foods may look like a better deal, the contents of the container may weigh much less than name brands. Do your research - though it may take more time, you will end up saving more money.
About the Author
Are you looking for ways to reduce your household expenses so that you can be a stay at home mom? Visit Wahm On A Budget for frugal tips as well as ideas to earn money from home.
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