Every family needs food; but since the grocery budget is one of the few “discretionary” budget items many families have, it is often the first one to get cut when times get tough. As food costs continue to climb faster than our paychecks, feeding a family with limited funds is still something many of us have to do. But don’t think that a smaller budget means you have to skimp on nutrition or taste. With a little effort and these quick and easy tips, you can maximize the amount of good, healthy food you can get with every dollar you have to spend.
1. Make a List
The easiest way to stick to your budget is to make a list and only buy things that are on that list. If you see something you think you need that wasn’t on the list, make a note of it and check it when you get home. If you really need it, add it to your list for next time.
2. Plan Your Menu
It might seem like a lot of extra work, but you can make your money go so much farther by planning out all your menus in advance. Some people plan a week at a time, others go for two weeks or even a month; so pick the timeframe that works best for you. Once you plan out your menu, you can create your shopping list based off of the ingredients you will need for each menu item. This helps ensure you will always have what you need on hand while also eliminating the purchase of extra items.
3. Shop Infrequently
One of the worst things to do when you are trying to manage a limited food budget is stop at the store to pick a “few things up”. Planning your menu and using a list should eliminate the need for this costly practice. You and your wallet will be much better off if you plan ahead so that you can buy things when they are on sale and avoid impulse purchases that can easily break your budget.
4. Keep Things Organized
A disorganized kitchen or pantry will almost always increase the amount of money you have to spend on groceries simply because you will buy things you already have but can’t locate. Keep shelves organized and don’t overload the refrigerator so that you can easily see what you have and you are only buying what you need.
5. Stick to the Basics
While basic food items like dairy, meat, fruits and vegetables can sometimes seem expensive, you’re gaining more value per unit and certainly more health benefits. The fewer processed food items you purchase, the more you’ll save.
- Ways to Stretch Your Food Dollar and Eat Well (fillyourplate.org)
- Arizona Food Prices are Up Slightly in 2014 (fillyourplate.org)
- 6 Ways to Fit Organic Food Into Your Grocery Budget (fillyourplate.org)