Food is a necessity and an expense that simply cannot be avoided. A 2012 Gallup poll found that Americans reported spending $151 on food per week. Around one in 10 said they spent $300 or more per week, and those with higher incomes tend to spend more on weekly food bills than people who earn less.
Compounding high food bills is the fact that people tend to waste food. According to the American Chemistry Council, roughly 80 billion pounds of food are thrown out every year in the United States. Britons throw away around seven million tons of food and drink per year, says BBC Good Food.
Saving money on food may seem challenging, but it doesn’t have to be. With some smart strategies, individuals can reduce their food budgets and still have enough to eat.
1. Store food properly. Pay attention to the correct ways to store food, including promptly refrigerating or freezing items to prevent spoiling.
2. Do your own work. Prepackaged, presliced, or preportioned foods take longer for manufacturers to prepare, and those costs are passed on to consumers. Separating foods oneself and putting them into manageable portions may take a little time, but the savings for consumers could be considerable.
3. Buy in bulk when it makes sense. Bulk warehouse stores can make it easier to stock up on essentials. But they also can entice people to buy items they really do not need. Consumers should only purchase items that make fiscal sense or ones that cannot be purchased elsewhere for less. Always compare the price per weight or per unit when shopping.
4. Stock up on staples. Be on the lookout for sales on items used frequently, particularly staples that can be stored away. Watch for low prices on coffee, oils and canned goods, stocking up when such items go on sale.
5. Embrace dried and canned beans. Beans offer filling fiber and protein for relatively little cost. They also can be added to meat or vegetable recipes to bulk up dishes.
6. Plan ahead. Planning ahead can save big bucks. Peruse sales before leaving the house and spend time visiting a few different stores to save more money. Make use of store coupon apps to preload savings that can be used at checkout.
7. Explore frugal recipes. Skipping meat or other expensive items once in awhile can help reduce food bills. Save expensive items for treats, which can make you appreciate them that much more. The same concept can be used for dining out.
It is relatively easy to save money on the cost of food when consumers make a commitment to being more frugal.