The Grocery Budget Challenge

Grocery_ChallengeGroceries are expensive, especially for families. You can go into a store at the beginning of the week, spend $200 and only have enough food until Wednesday. It’s challenging to feed your entire family on a budget, but for most Americans, that’s exactly what’s necessary.

With more than 43 percent of Americans currently owing more than they earn, grocery budgets are getting tighter, and adjustments must be made in order to alleviate debt. We know it might sound crazy, but you can feed your family for just $50 a week. Don’t believe us? Use the following tips to keep your grocery budget under $50 a week.

Make a Weekly Meal Plan

Making a plan not only helps you make meal decisions during the week, it also keeps you in budget. If you know your weekly dinner menu, you will have an exact list of ingredients you need from the store, and you won’t be tempted to purchase any extra items. Making a plan doesn’t just mean making a list though. Calculate the prices and savings before you ever enter the store. This way you won’t be hit with an outrageous price tag at checkout. Also, have a backup plan. The store might have run out of a specific item you need for your meal. Have a replacement in mind.

Shop Local Sales

Let the weekly sales paper drive your menu. If chicken, pork or another meat is on sale during the week, buy enough to freeze for future meals. Shopping sales can save you a lot of money in the long run and help you stay on or even under budget. You can also check out local farmer’s markets or local stores. They will often have fresh fruit and veggies at lower prices than the national chain stores. Be sure to price match different stores to receive the biggest savings.

Visit Discount Stores

Try shopping at discount stores like Aldi or Costco for bulk items. You can buy toilet paper, paper towels, toothpaste, pasta, rice, and a million other random necessities in bulk at a discounted price at these discount stores, but that’s not all. You can also stock up on fresh food items that are easily freezable and save on your monthly grocery budget. Just don’t forget your shopping bags.

Utilize Coupons

Coupons are your best friend. Some stores will even provide best customer coupons based on your shopping habits. Look online to see if your favorite local store provides an online coupon program. You can simply enter your phone number or swipe your shopper’s card at checkout to receive the savings. If you combine your shopper’s card with printed coupons, your savings will increase substantially. Just don’t fall into the coupon trap. Do the math before you go shopping and be sure you are getting the best savings.

Eat Leftovers

When making your weekly menu, choose meals that include versatile ingredients that you can use in other dishes during the week. Also, if you can turn your leftovers into an entirely new scrumptious meal, that’s even more bang for your buck! For example, if you are making shish kabobs on Monday, you can use the leftover kabob ingredients to make a fun stir fry with rice. Also, your leftovers can serve as lunches for the next day. What’s easier than reheating last night’s leftovers? Plus, sandwiches get old after a while.

Buy Generic

Generic is the same thing as the name brand. The packaging and the price are the only difference. Buying generic products will save you money while allowing you some of the luxuries that you are accustomed to. For example, generic or store brand milk can be up to a dollar cheaper than the name brand or organic milk. That dollar can be used in other areas of your grocery budget.

Skip the Meat

That’s right meat lovers. Having one or two meals during the week that skips the meat is not only good for your budget, but also for your health. A 2009 study in the Archives of Internal Medicine stated that those who eat red meats are more at risk of dying from heart disease, cancer and other chronic illnesses. Try making a vegetable soup or a hearty salad during the week. Don’t forget to pack some up for lunch the next day!