The average American family of four with two children under 11 spends between $647.80 and $1,290.60 per month on food, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Contrary to popular belief, eating well doesn’t have to be expensive — there are strategies for saving at the supermarket while still providing healthy, wholesome meals for your family.
Plan for success
- Plan your meals in advance. Enlist the help of a meal planner. Whether it's an app, paper planner or dry erase board in your kitchen, there is a tool that will work well for your family. Planning your meals will help you accurately plan your grocery list. And when you shop from the list, you’re less likely to buy on impulse or come home with a lot of food but no solid meal ideas.
- Set a budget and track your spending. Whether setting aside envelopes with cash for the week, or tracking expenses with a money management tool like Mint are the best fit for you, saving money is much easier when you have a goal and track your spending.
Shop smart and save
- Shop at discount grocery stores and stock up during sales. Discount grocery stores such as Costco are a great place to stock up on pantry staples as well as items your family consumes in greater amounts. Compare your purchase needs to the membership fee, and calculate if you’d save money in the long run. When pantry-stable items (like canned salmon) are on sale — stock up!
- Use coupons, rebates and stack discounts. Paper and digital coupons are very accessible and can help you save at the store. Check weekly newspaper circulars for deals, sign up for special offers from your favorite food brands, or use store rewards cards for deeper discounts. You can also combine digital, in-store and manufacturer coupons on items for even greater savings.
- Spend on healthy items, even if they are a bit more. To get the most of your grocery dollars, look for nutrient dense foods such as dark leafy greens, broccoli, eggs, canned tuna, legumes, bananas and plums.
Monitor and adjust your menu
- Limit end-of-week tossing. Make one night per week a "clean out the fridge night,” where you create meals based on food items that are about to perish. You can even combine these items in a healthy stir fry over brown rice, a frittata or pasta dish. Or, pair perishables with staples in your pantry or freezer to create inspiring meals such as, RECIPE and RECIPE.
- Be prepared for the unexpected. As much as we plan ahead, there are always nights where traffic was bad, or "the chef" had to work late, which throws dinner off-track. Have a few quick and easy meals up your sleeve that you can prepare with items on hand. It takes the stress out of the unplanned, and prevents you from ordering takeout.