How to Cut Household Food Costs

Saving Money at the Grocery Store: How to Cut Household Food Costs

Budget-conscious consumers can employ a few tricks to lower the weekly grocery bill, from paying attention to a grocery store’s competitors to buying the kinds of foods that give the best bang for the buck.

Shop Where There Are Several Grocery Stores in the Same Area

It’s no secret that some grocery stores are more expensive than others. But even within a grocery store chain, prices can vary from one town to the next.

The grocery store business is ultra-competitive, in part because the industry’s profit margins are low. So when multiple grocery stores are located in a close proximity, their prices tend to be lower than average. Likewise, when a grocery store is the sole food-seller in town, prices tend to be higher.

If it’s possible to shop the next town over in a more competitive environment, the extra drive is worth the effort. For those who prefer to shop at premium grocery stores, there’s significant cost savings when a discount store is located nearby.

Don’t Buy Non-Food Items at the Grocery Store

Sure, it’s convenient to pick up a package of paper towels or a bottle of shampoo during a weekly food-shopping trip. But it doesn’t make good financial sense, given that the cost of the goods is typically inflated at grocery stores. Experts say it’s better to shop for toiletries and other non-food items at discount stores.

For anyone who lives near a bulk food store, the potential savings are even greater. Buying toiletries – not to mention food – in bulk nets big savings in the long run. The more individual items per package, the lower the unit price.

Spend Money on the Healthiest Grocery Store Foods

Unfortunately, foods that are the healthiest also tend to be the most expensive. That’s why, according to a report by Lauran Neergaard of the Associated Press, experts are worried that the recession will contribute to the obesity problem that’s already epidemic among Americans.

The good news is, according to the report, there are some healthy foods that provide a pretty good bang for the buck. According to research from the University of Washington, foods that give the most nutrition for the price per portion include: low-fat milk, yogurt and cheese; lean ground beef, chicken and canned fish; eggs; beans; peanut butter; whole wheat bread, tortillas and rice; bananas, apples, and frozen orange juice; and potatoes, iceberg lettuce, and canned corn and tomatoes.

Loading a shopping cart with these healthy foods can help control a weekly food budget – along with the family’s waistlines.

Be Flexible With Weekly Meal Plans

There’s significant savings to be had for those who are flexible enough to plan meals around what’s on sale each week. Scan grocery store fliers each week for special deals and offers, and then sit down to make a meal plan based on what’s there. This shouldn’t be hard to do, given that hundreds of items go on sale each week.

If chicken breast and broccoli are on sale, make a chicken and broccoli casserole one night. If ground beef is a weekly special, make burgers.

Inevitably, not every item a family needs will be on sale. But planning even half of the weekly meals around sale items, particularly when it comes to costly items like meat and cheese, is a budget-friendly strategy.

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