Everyone has to eat, so the majority of us make regular visits to the grocery store. As of 2013, the average cost to feed a family of four ranged from $146 to $289 per week, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. This figure is based solely on eating at home, so the real average is much higher if you factor in the money that most of us spend eating out.
Obviously, there is a big difference between spending close to $150 per week and spending nearly $300. The amount you spend will depend on several factors, including your age, the age of your family members, the cost of groceries where you live, as well as whether or not you shop sales, use coupons, choose store brand items, and so on. What we do know is that the majority of us would love to save money on groceries, but that takes careful planning. Here are five ideas that will help you start saving.
1. Use Coupons
You probably saw this one coming — but yes, coupons can be a very affective way to save money. You may have heard of TLC’s Extreme Couponing, which often showcases people saving huge amounts on outrageous grocery bills. While most of us don’t have the time to coupon to this extreme, even using a few coupons per week can save you money when implemented regularly. If you don’t already subscribe to a newspaper, that is an easy way to start. Sunday papers usually include coupon inserts; just looking at the flyers for the stores you shop at the most will save you a lot of money because you can plan your meals around what is on sale. Some people subscribe to several Sunday papers in order to have doubles of certain coupons.
Coupons also often come in the mail, and several grocery chains also mail out coupons or provide them online to subscribers. In addition, some coupons can be loaded to your cell phone. You can save even more by planning weekly meals around particularly good coupon deals for the week in addition the individual store sales, or by stockpiling items that will last for a long time. One caution about coupons: it is very easy to get into the habit of thinking you need something simply because you have a coupon; coupons are only useful if they are for items you actually need or will use before they expire.