If it seems like you are spending more and more money every time you go to the grocery store, you are right. Food prices are increasing and have been for the past couple of years. According to USDA’s Economic Research Service, food prices increased 4% between 2006 and 2007 and that was the highest annual increase in the price of food since 1990.
In 2008, it is expected that food prices will rise 5% - 6%. That is enough to have a significant impact on your food budget. A little planning with some minor changes can help you eat healthfully without breaking the budget.
The first way to save money is to decrease the amount of food waste in your household. According to a New York Times article by Andrew Martin,we Americans waste about a pound of food per day per person in theUnited States. (Of course, that includes restaurant and field waste.)
Think about how much money you would be saving if you never had to throw any food away. I’m not suggesting that you become a member of the clean plate club and eat everything in sight so you don’t throw it away. I’m suggesting that you make plans for all of the food you purchase and follow through with those plans.
How many bananas sit on the counter until they turn black and get tossed in the trash? That banana can be mashed and frozen and used for banana bread later. When you prepare a meal and don’t eat it all, take leftovers for your lunch or plan a night when you finish the leftovers.
Before you go to the grocery store, check to see what you have on hand to assure you won’t be doubling up on some items. Clipping coupons for the items that you use can help with the bottom line for your grocery bill. Two web sites that allow you to print coupons are www.Coupons.com and SmartSource.com. The Sunday newspaper often has a booklet or two with coupons.
Plan your meals around sales at the grocery store. You can also save significant dollars by purchasing the fruits and vegetables that are in season or are on sale that week.
This is hard for many of us Midwesterners but planning a couple of meatless meals every week can make a big difference in how much you spend at the grocery store.
Beans are a great source of protein and it costs only pennies per person to serve them. You can use beans to make a vegetarian chili (most people don’t even miss the meat). Many kids say they don’t like beans but will eat a bean burrito and love it.
We can’t control food prices but we can control how we spend our money.We can also control the amount of waste from our own household. Check your waste this week and see how your household fares.