School is out. The kids are home—from school, from little to big! Great, right? But, now the refrigerator seems to empty out by noon every day.
In addition to figuring out how to keep everyone busy, you have a new challenge: how to save money on food. It’s not only summer travel and activities that can bust your budget. Without a solid game plan, your kids can totally deconstruct your financial plans.
Household Budgets are Stretched to the Limit
Almost everyone is on a tight budget these days. One need only glance at any headline, digital or print, to see that Americans are stressed out about their finances.
Credit card and student loan debt are robbing many of us of sleep and financial serenity. Unpayable medical bills are causing many Americans to skip drugs and doctor visits. No one is saving enough and very few are prepared for a major emergency.
We’re Spending a lot of Money on Food
According to a recently published survey by GoBankingRates, the average American grocery bill is $300—per person! The survey reveals that families are spending roughly $2,700 per year at restaurants or carryout establishments.
Anything you can do to minimize monthly expenses will go a long way toward creating some peace of mind. One place to start is with your food bill. Yes, more hungry mouths are home now, and we know that if they are bored, they will eat more. Maybe the first tip is: keep everyone busy! However, beyond this, what can you do to save money on food?
How to Save Money on Food: 5 Easy Tips
- Watch Out for Those Inspiring Recipe Videos on Social Media
Social media is filled with constant information and inspiration for just about everything. But, it is also a danger zone when it comes to keeping to your budget. Your food budget is no exception.
All those great “how to prepare” videos can send you running out to the nearest gourmet or health food store to buy special ingredients. But, are you actually going to make that dish? After spending a small fortune on a small bottle of avocado or organic coconut oil, will you use it, or will the bottle sit on your shelf? Be realistic with yourself. Purchase only what you are certain you will use more than once.
- Buy Generic
The brands work very hard to convince you that their product is superior, but in truth, you will find that store brands taste the same, are made with the same ingredients and…cost much less. For instance, you can save as much 30% on store branded food product. If you have a lot of mouths to feed, your best friend is Costco, Trader Joe’s and other discount outlets where you will find items even tastier than branded product. This applies to household supplies too, such as detergents, shower gels, and cleaning products. And, you will be very happy at checkout.
- Make the Best Use of Your Freezer
The GoBankingRate survey revealed that groceries are the second most expensive item in our monthly budget. One great way to save money on food is to take full advantage of your freezer space. Stock up when food items are on sale. Of course, it should be food that everyone will eat.
With this strategy, not only will you save you money, but you will also save time running to the grocery store. Plus, if the kids are old enough, they can open the freezer and take out something to prepare on their own. Who knows, maybe you’ll even find a nice meal waiting for you when you get home.
- Leave the Kids Home
Supermarkets are designed to entice you to spend money. Many floor layouts require you to pass by everything in the store. Their favorite customer is your child. Everything they want is attractively displayed right before or at the check-out counter, at eye level.
Kids, whether your little ones or even your teenagers have a very poor ability to sort out what is a “need” from what is a “want.” Unless you want your shopping cart overflowing with stuff that was not even on the shopping list, you should arrange to leave the kids at home. If your children are old enough to be helpful, you can use the experience to teach them how to save money on food.
- Eat at Home
Getting back to the survey, a key way to save money on food is to minimize trips to restaurants. The survey revealed that the average family is spending around $2,700 on meals out or carry-out.
Meal preparation can be a family affair. For older kids, one of their summer responsibilities can be to prepare meals for the family. You can make it lots of fun, allowing them to select the meal and helping them purchase the ingredients at the lowest cost.
Summer is a great time for barbecues too. If fatigue is the issue, get one of those slow-cookers and prepare meals in advance. Whatever is left-over, put in the freezer for another day.
Read this article for additional summer-budget savings tips.