8 Smart Tips for Managing Your Grocery Budget


We are all looking for ways to optimize our shopping dollars. And for families with kids, it's even more important to look for bargains and make the most out of as little as possible.

Cutting your food bill means you can spend more on things you cherish, like a special trip with your family or putting more money aside for retirement.

With a bit of time and research, you can shop smart and find ways to trim your grocery spending while stretching your budget, and still providing your family with nutritious meals is possible.

To prevent your grocery shopping from busting your budget, try the tactics listed below in the coming weeks.


DETERMINE YOUR GROCERY BUDGET
First, decide how much you want to spend on groceries. You can use your latest bank statements as a starting point if you are not sure where to start.

According to the Department of Agriculture, a family of four spends between $205 and $245 every week for a moderate-cost food plan. Your own costs depend on the available budget and dietary needs of your family members.

A grocery budget calculator might come in handy to get an estimate and cut costs.

MEAL PLANNING 
Planning your menus is a great way to save some dollars (and calories). We all turn to pizza or cheeseburger on our way home from time to time, as it seems easier. These impulsive purchases quickly add up (as well as the unwanted weight).

Nobody wants to spend hours in the kitchen meal prepping every day, so use this trick – cook all main dishes for an entire week in one day!
Another cunning trick is to adapt your weekly menu according to your store's weekly circular. And when you are all out of ideas, you can find menu plans online for free or at about $5.00 a month.

Also, use the websites that help you prep a meal based on the ingredients you already have.


BUY THE ITEMS THAT ARE ON SALE
Look for clearance sections in stores – the discounted overripe bananas are perfect for smoothies and homemade banana bread. You can stock up and freeze certain products like meat and veggies when you come upon a great deal.

Clearing inventory on weekdays means certain goods are cheaper, so that's the best time to do your shopping.

Buying in bulks can also save you money. It is time to load up whenever you see a majority of items you regularly use on a sale, like ten cans of your favorite soup going for $10.

Downloading budgeting apps can score you substantial savings. Most stores offer mobile apps that will help you cut your food spending.

MAKE A SHOPPING LIST 
Making a list (and sticking to it) is still the best way to manage your grocery spending. You don't even need a pen and paper anymore. You can just download an app, and you are good to go.

The best grocery list apps allow you to share the list with your family members, find recipes based on your selection, add special notes, or set reminders on meal prep days. Some of these smart apps allow you to track how much of certain goods you have left in your home. Kids are especially prone to grabbing things that are shiny and colorful, and the retailers are counting on that. It is vital you talk about money management with your little ones and help them build age-appropriate financial awareness.

Creating a grocery list before the actual shopping will prevent you from making an impulsive purchase. It will ensure you get everything you need, too.


USE A PRICE BOOK
Keep track of which stores have the lowest prices on certain products. This really helps save money.

By making your own price book, you'll be able to determine sales patterns, and since sales usually go in cycles, you'll know when it's the best time to stock up.

Use a notebook and write an item at the top of the paper. List the price and the store where it can be found. To be sure you are getting the most bang for your buck, use the cost per unit instead of a retail price. This will help you track the savings more precisely.

A price book will help you track store circulars for weekly sales and compare prices to find the best deal for the goods you are looking for.
A useful tip – most circulars can be found online, so checking them is as effortless as it can be.

SWITCH TO STORE BRANDS
Be open-minded and try the brands you don't usually use if they are on sale or come with a lower price tag. You can save a lot of money by opting for store-brand goods.

The quality of the store brand products might surprise you! Many of the items are made in the same factories as big-name brands, but store brands save on having no advertisements. This means you can get these groceries at a much lower price without sacrificing taste or quality.

A few dollars here and there add up to significant savings over time. You can save almost $20 for dinner alone if you opt for generic products. And if you do the math that is $80 a month and $1,040 a year just if you switch brands for dinner!


LOOK FOR ONLINE BARGAINS
Online vendors offer lower prices, even up to 50 percent off regional grocery chains' prices. If you are using an online grocery store for the first time, you will be waived the delivery fee or given discounts for new consumers.

Even with the delivery costs, you can save money buying online.


USE COUPONS 
Having coupons can drastically lower the price tags on certain items. They can even cost less than the store brand sometimes.

There are retailers that double or even triple manufacturers' paper coupons every day, every week, or less regularly. Locate those stores and save even more money.

Matching the coupons to the items that are already on sale can help you cut your grocery bill even more. There are many coupon websites that can guide you on this subject and help you save a significant amount of money.

Remember to coupon wisely! Don't spend money on things just because it's a discount. Again, stick to the list you created!


When you track your grocery purchases, you can prevent overspending in the next week/month. You don't have to resort to extreme couponing to tighten up your spending habits.

Smart grocery shopping can help you get in control of your finances without too much of a hassle.