An interesting internet article recently about saving money on grocery bills reported that the average family (of 2.5) in America spends at least $537 a month on food (including eating out). What the article didn’t say was that the statistics reported (for October 2008) are almost two years old, and mostly irrelevant in 2010.
I suspect the per-week expenditure numbers are much higher in these challenging economic times, especially since everyday pricing is still high in some supermarket chains and it is hard to be successful at saving money on grocery bills. When I can find a similar-quality head of romaine lettuce in a mom-and-pop store for half the price of a major supermarket’s “sale,” guess where I’m going to shop.
However, frugal living advocates did have some good advice about saving money on grocery bills. (Their suggestions did not take into account that some ready-made prepared meals are less costly than buying all the ingredients to prepare the same meal.)
Here are 8 ways to begin saving money on grocery bills:
1. Reduce meat consumption (usually the highest expense on the register receipt). Make 3 vegetarian meals a week instead of one.
2. Eat fresh and non-processed. The closer a food is to its original state, the cheaper it is, and the better it is for you since extra salt and chemical preservatives are not added.
3. Use coupons from online sources (instead of subscribing to the newspaper).
4. Stockpile paper goods, cleaning supplies, canned goods, soda, cereal, and toiletries when they are on sale (many drugstores offer attractive pricing to induce traffic).
5. Form or join a local buying club to purchase group-desired grocery items by the case at wholesale prices.
6. Learn to cook and make meals that don’t involve convenience foods such as frozen meals or boxed “helpers.” (Homemade meals are generally higher in nutrition as well as being less costly per serving.)
7. Buy what’s on sale or in season and plan meals accordingly.
8. Skip a week of shopping and use what you already have in the freezer and pantry.
Until our general economic situation begins to turn around, being frugal and saving money on grocery bills is the smart thing to do. Our grandmothers knew how to do it; so can we. And, no doubt we’ll create some memorable meals for the family cookbook and recipe card box.