Unless you live on your own or you’ve already started your own family, chances are you don’t know how much money your family spends on groceries each month. We tend to realize the struggles of daily life only after we become independent and start living by ourselves. One of those struggles is not spending all of your money on groceries.
How To Save Money Buying Groceries
If you sit down and add up the amount of money you spend on food each month, you will quickly find out that shopping at the grocery store and making meals on your own is definitely less expensive than fast food and takeout. I
f dive a little bit further into this, you may even find that much of that same takeout food is wasted when no one is interested in the leftovers. It turns out the numbers are pretty staggering. Generally, about 40% of all food we buy is wasted. That’s right, only a little less than half of everything you pay for goes in the trash. And just think, about 11% of the world’s population go hungry every day. That’s 805 million people!
If you are like me then you probably took these statistics to heart. After discovering how wasteful I was, I decided it was time to make a change and do at least one small thing to better our world. Besides cutting down on wastefulness, you can also cut down on your spending when you learn how to manage your groceries. It’s important to know how to optimize your budget in such a way so that you don’t end up throwing anything away.
Write It Down
The first step is simple: you need to become aware of how much money you are spending every day on food before you can start to find the areas where you can trim down. Being aware of the problem is hands down the most important step to finding a solution. If you don’t know what is wrong or how bad the situation is then there is no possible way for you to fix it. Start by writing it down each time that you spend money on food.
After a short amount of time, you will start to notice how the numbers add up and where your personal weaknesses are when it comes to your eating habits. When I did this, I learned that I was spending around $10 each workday on lunch. Over time this added up to almost $2500 per year.
I now know that I could have been making my own lunch and reduced that daily spending amount to $3, which would have only cost me $800 per year. That means I was missing out on a savings of $1700 every year! Not to mention that up to 40% of that lunch food was going in the trash. This new perspective allowed me to focus on reducing the numbers and the waste at the same time.
Adjust Your Habits
Once you have identified where your money is going, you need to start making small changes to alter the larger effect that this spending has on your finances. If you find yourself heading to a restaurant after a long day at work when you have no food in the house, then you must instead form a habit of cooking with store bought food at home.
It can be hard disregard how long it might take or how tired you are, but over time you will start to appreciate the difference in makes in both your spending and your overall health. You must hold yourself accountable for your actions and not let yourself slip. You will probably make some mistakes at first, but don’t let that discourage you.
It may take some time for you to figure out the right amount of food to buy and how often to shop so that your food doesn’t spoil. Alternatively, you may have trouble getting a handle on proper cooking techniques, and end up with a few dud recipes.
But don’t worry. Over time you will learn to either go shopping more often or quickly turn your store-bought groceries into dishes which you can eat throughout the week. One way or another, this is a better alternative to wasting money and food by getting the majority of your meals from restaurants.
Shopping & Meal Planning
After cutting out restaurants and takeout, you will naturally start to focus more on buying groceries. At first, you may have trouble minimizing your grocery bill, but don’t worry. You will learn how to reduce the cost slowly. One of the most important things you can do to achieve this is to practice meal planning.
This will save you a lot on money of food by ensuring you only buy what you plan to eat and you don’t let anything spoil. The best way to do this is to pick a few recipes you enjoy, add all the ingredients together onto one shopping list, and then go shopping. The best part of this method is that you don’t have to limit yourself with the variety of foods you may want to cook.
You have the freedom to try and replicate anything you have eaten at a restaurant, but make sure to pick only the dishes you know you will like and won’t end up throwing away. Also, don’t be afraid to like the simple stuff. Mac-n-cheese or pasta is a perfectly acceptable dish which is relatively inexpensive to make. You will see your shopping bill drop in no time.
Lastly, be aware that you will have some months which are more expensive than others. Birthdays, parties, family gatherings, and other similar events will likely require you to spend more money at the grocery store. But as long as you have a plan and are ready for it ahead of time, it shouldn’t be too much of a hit to your budget.
Just remember to stick it, and perhaps try making some things on your own that you would normally buy pre-made. Don’t feel like you have to shrink from making a birthday cake just because it’s your first time. You never know, you might have a hidden talent! As far as gatherings go, it’s always okay to let your guests know that bringing food to the party is acceptable and even welcomed.
Either way, avoid those party meal pickup platters at your local sub or fast food joint. They’re far more expensive and wasteful than making similar snacks on your own. Be the master of your kitchen and your grocery bill.