Whether you’re a mom of a growing family or a single woman on the go, money matters. That’s especially true of the dollars we spend to feed ourselves and loved ones. Get a handle on spending with these 10 ways to stretch your grocery budget.
In many households, food spending takes up between 5% and 15% of the budget. For those who eat takeout frequently, that number can go even higher—and if the fat, calories, and additives found on many restaurant menus doesn’t keep you away from takeout, consider how much money you may be spending on those food choices.
Grocery budget tips, like the ones we’re sharing below, are a smart strategy for any shopper. Even putting one or two of these tips on your to-do list can add up the savings over time. What’s more, these ways to stretch your grocery budget will help you gain control over what you’re eating. You can switch the focus away from processed or takeout foods to healthy homemade foods that are loaded with nutrition—not junk.
Check out our grocery tips below, and then if you have budget tips to share, post them in the comment section below. We’d love to hear how you make healthy budget-friendly.
1. Make menu planning a priority.
Knowing what you’re going to prepare in advance allows you to maximize coupon use and take advantage of sales. Menu planning also lowers the chance you’ll make unhealthy choices like ordering takeout. Visit our Menu Planning section to get started.
2. Use coupons.
One of the most common ways to stretch your grocery budget is to clip those coupons. Whether you find them in a newspaper or on a coupon website, these manufacturer perks will help you reduce that grocery total.
3. Consider store brands.
When you need staples, like shredded low-fat mozzarella or kidney beans, store brands can help you stretch your dollar. But always scope prices—not all store brands are cheaper, and, sometimes, name brands are less expensive with coupons or when they’re on sale. Visit 6 Must-Have Lists for Your Ultimate Grocery Shopping Guide.
4. Grow your own veggies and herbs.
Even if you weren’t born with a green thumb, you can successfully grow vegetables and herbs. You don’t need a big garden either; for example, tomatoes can be grown in pots or hanging bags. Check out 10 Veggies and Herbs to Plant This Spring.
5. Shop from the reduced rack.
Find good deals on the grocery store’s reduced or clearance rack in sections like the bakery or meat department. Meat can be frozen for future use, while less-than-fresh whole grain breads can be used to make Healthy Homemade Bread Crumbs.
6. Plan to make recipes that incorporate low-cost, nutrition-rich foods.
Produce like broccoli, squash, and Brussels sprouts stay relatively low in price, making them a smart choice for lower-cost healthy eating. Start with these Broccoli Recipes. Beans are another budget-friendly food, so enjoy recipes like Slow Cooker Black Beans and Chicken.
7. Eat in-season fruits and vegetables.
In-season produce tends to be less expensive. Shopping in-season is also a fabulous excuse to visit your local farm market. Here’s our Farmer’s Market Shopping Guide to help you get the most out of your trip.
8. Keep an inventory.
How many times have you purchased a food only to find when you get home that you already have a bunch of it sitting in the pantry? One of the sometimes-overlooked grocery budget tips is to keep a list next to the freezer or pantry noting what’s already stocked. Does the kitchen need a reboot before you start inventorying? Read How to Organize Your Kitchen for Weight Loss.
9. Drink water.
Processed, packaged beverages, like soda, not only add to the waistline—they’ll bulge that budget, too. Save money by choosing plain water. If you or family members need a little flavor try tasty Lemon & Mint Water.
10. Incorporate leftovers into other dishes.
This is one of those great grocery budget tips if your family isn’t big on leftovers. For example, leftover portions of Slow Cooker Chicken Pot Roast are delicious rolled into a lettuce leaf or whole grain wrap for lunch. Discover more ideas in 17 Meals to Make with Leftovers.
Do you tweet or follow tweeters? Follow @SkinnyMsMag for on-the-go access to clean-eating recipes and live-better tips.