The quickest means to saving money on food is to stop eating out, quit ordering in and start cooking your own meals at home. There are a multitude of additional measures that you can take to further minimize your expenses:
1. Plan Your Meals
Write down a meal plan for the week and write down the different ingredients that you will need. Remember to plan for breakfast lunch and dinner. Keep the meals simple for the majority of the week and plan only one special menu for breakfast lunch and dinner. For example, your family can munch on cereal for breakfast most mornings and you can cook pancakes or bacon and eggs as a treat on a Friday.
2. Make A Grocery List
Once you have formulated your meal plan, you can write down a grocery list of all the food items that you will need. Remember to include herbs, spices and condiments that you may need. Check the grocery cupboard to ensure that you don’t already have these items.
Only go shopping once a week and stick to your shopping list. The temptation is always there to buy more than you need or to pop into the shop on a regular basis but this will only increase your expenses. Try to freeze daily necessities such as bread and milk to further limit trips to the grocery store.
Include some snack foods and beverages on your shopping list. Don’t go overboard and keep non-essential items to a minimum. When the snack items are gone, don’t purchase more until the next week’s shopping day arrives. Alternatively, look for simple recipes for cookies, cakes and other simple snack foods that you can make yourself and add the ingredients to your shopping list.
3. Bargain Buy
Look in your local newspapers for any specials or coupons that you can use to save some money. Compare these bargains to your shopping list to see which items you can save on. It may be necessary to shop at more than one store to get the best deals. However, don’t drive too far to visit different stores as you will simply spend on gas what you save on your grocery bill.
4. Know Your Proteins
Meat, chicken, fish and other proteins are often the most expensive items on your shopping list. Plan for one or two vegetarian meals during the week to minimize your expenditure. Keep in mind that chicken and pork are less expensive than red meat options. Try to stick to the cheaper cuts of red meats and cook casseroles or stews rather than expensive steak.
5. Cash Is King
Try to avoid buying food on credit or using your credit card. You pay interest on these purchases meaning that your actual grocery bill will be much higher than you think. In fact, you could end up paying as much as 30% more for your food when you buy on credit. If you are late making a payment, you could incur additional penalties and interest.
Jonathan Leger is a freelance writer and small business owner. He runs a popular question and answer website with a section dedicated to food and cooking at AnswerThis.co.