Feeding your family can get pretty expensive. It can become exceptionally costly when you don’t really manage your spending on your meals. Here are some statistics and tips on how to help you save money while feeding your family.
- Set a Budget for Meals. If you are just buying groceries whenever you want and not taking into consideration your monthly spending, you could be wasting plenty of money. You need to set a budget on your meal spending. The United States Department of Agriculture reports that the average monthly cost of food at home for a family of four is between $685.54 and $1,349.56 (These numbers were generated from the Official USDA Food Plan as of November 2015.) If you have never kept track of the amount of money you’ve spent on food, now is the time. Create a budget according to your family’s needs but also remember that by creating a budget you are trying to save money so be conservative with your budget. If you have never kept track of meal spending consider using the numbers provided by the USDA as a reference or starting point.
- Eliminate Eating Away from Home. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics in a release September 2015, consumer units spent $2,787 annually on food away from home which means that on average a family spends $232.25 a month eating away from home. Consider packing lunches instead of eating out and brewing a nice cup of Joe at home instead of picking one up on the ride to work. If you are one who grabs a “tall” cup of coffee from a local coffee store, you are spending $933.40 annually on this perk. The staff at Talk Business & Politics reports that the average person spends $53 a week on eating out for lunch. That’s a lunch budget of over $2,756 annually per person. Just think what you could do with this extra savings!
- Reduce Meals. We’re not suggesting that you go without a meal, but we are recommending that you consider what and how much you are consuming. Reducing portion sizes, the number of sides and the types of foods you eat can have a large impact on your grocery budget. Consider eating a simple meal such as a simple salad, sandwich or protein shake a few times a week rather than having a large 3 course meal.
- Meal Plan. When you meal plan, you shop for only the items you need rather than throwing a bunch of unneeded items into your cart. Check out your freezer and pantry first and develop meals around what you already have on hand. Then supplement these meals with purchases from the grocery store.
- Shop Coupons and Sales. Remember the meal planning tip? Shop sales and use coupons to add to your shopping list for the week. If you cannot get it on sale or use a coupon for it, then don’t buy it this week. You will be amazed at exactly how much money you can save by shopping sales and with coupons. Think of groceries like buying a new car. You never want to pay full price or “asking price.” Manufacturers offer coupons on items on a regular basis. Proctor & Gamble, for example, produces new coupons ever month on their items. Why would you pay full price? It just does not make cents! (See the humor!)
- Don’t Waste. If you have leftovers use them to make other dishes, eat them again, freeze for later or take for lunch. Entrees such as roasts can be quickly turned into other dishes like hot sandwiches or soups. Count these left overs as another meal in your meal planning efforts.
- Use Cash to Shop. Many people who are conscious about their spending habits use this tactic to control the amount of money they spend. They operate under the premise of “you can’t spend what you don’t have.” Debit and credit cards make it all too easy for consumers to over spend. By shopping with cash, we can only spend money that we actually have in hand. Consider using an envelope system for controlling your spending habits.
- Become a DIYer. Save on meals by becoming a do-it-yourself(er). Instead of buying fresh produce everyday consider growing a garden of the vegetables your family enjoys or a herb garden. Start your mini farm with some chickens for eggs. You can also go online and learn how to make your own washing and cleaning supplies.
- Trade It. Join online sites and networks and trade what you have for what you need. If you have a garden, trade for eggs or meats. Have leftovers? Find a friend who will trade leftovers with you. This creates a new meal for each family in the trade and it doesn’t cost you anything.
- Use Discounted Cards. Nearly all the stores have debit cards in which you can purchase. Many of times these cards are offered at less than face value. For example, a local drugstore may be running an ad this week with a savings of 10% when you buy a $50 prepaid card. When you do this, you are instantly saving money on your purchases.
By simply implementing some of these tips into your routine of feeding your family, you will be able to save money. When you are looking to save money if you just look at your normal spending habits and reshape them, you will be amazed at ways you can improve your spending and savings.