Food is one of your budget items where you spend the most money. Even if you quit eating out and cook everything at home, your grocery budget can still be one of your most expensive items. You can reduce your grocery budget to save a few thousand dollars each year by making a few simple changes.
Rice and Beans
You hear “eat rice and beans” when paying off your debt. Is that literally what you should be eating, or is it figuratively? It’s both. One of the ways to reduce your grocery budget each month is to eat foods that don’t cost much. Rice and beans are some of the cheapest foods and are good for you.
Should you eat rice and beans for every meal? I’m no dietitian but eating only two foods all the time doesn’t seem like it would be healthy for you. In this sense, rice and beans is figurative. In order to reduce your grocery budget, you need to eat foods that don’t cost much, and you need to consider eating foods that maybe you don’t want to. You need to eat some of the same, cheaper foods over and over throughout the month. Some of my favorite foods are the ones that don’t cost much: Brown rice, black beans, whole grain pasta, and whole grain bread that my wife makes. We eat these foods every week.
Buy Fruits and Vegetables in Season
My family eats lots of fruits and vegetables. Raspberries and cherries are ridiculously priced when not in season! When they are in season, they are quite cheap. I buy what we can consume, and when we run out, I go buy more.
Bananas and certain varieties of apples are cheap year-round here. We eat bananas and apples throughout the year, but when the price of apples drops to 69 cents a pound, we eat quite a few more. Some apple varieties and other fruits are expensive all the time, and we have them occasionally, but most fruits are cheaper when they are in season. We buy the fruits that are in season.
Average Your Cost Per Meal
You won’t get out of debt or build wealth eating filet mignon, ribeye, or salmon every meal. I’m not sure that I have ever had filet mignon, but I love ribeye and I like salmon. These foods are $10 – $20 a pound. Eating $10 – $20 per pound foods all the time will cause you to be broke. However, when you eat these foods once in a while but mostly eat foods that cost less than two dollars a pound, the average cost per meal over a month can stay low.
Buy in Bulk
We spend two-thirds of our grocery budget at Sam’s Club. I don’t recommend Sam’s over any of the other warehouses, but we shop there because it’s closest to us. We pay the cost of the annual membership, but we save much more by shopping there because of the items we can buy in bulk. Most of our meat is bought at Sam’s Club, and it’s about 50% cheaper there than anywhere else. We know are 20-30 items that we buy from there, so we don’t go to buy groceries and come out with a TV.
Lower Your Caloric Intake
No one’s saying starve yourself to reduce your grocery budget. When you look at the obesity rate in America and how many calories the average person consumes each day, it would do many of us good to reduce our caloric intake.
The best way to reduce the number of calories you consume is to stop eating at restaurants. Not only will you consume fewer calories when you quit eating out, but you will also reduce your overall food budget. It’s expensive eating at restaurants!
Another way to cut your caloric intake is to stop eating highly processed foods. Highly processed foods can be cheaper to buy, but not all of them. Some of them are expensive and make you crave more! You end up eating more which costs you more. You also have to consider the long-term effect on your health and how much this is going to cost you in the future.
How Much to Spend Each Month
As with everything else when it comes to money, you get to spend whatever you want. The more you spend on food each month the less you have to build wealth. Most families with an average income who spend a thousand dollars on groceries a month do not build wealth. Don’t blame this on your kids, either. They aren’t the ones buying the groceries.
See if you can spend $100-$150 on food per person each month. Included in this is the amount you spend at home and away from home. When paying off debt, you should be preparing all your food at home and not going out to eat. If you have teens who eat and eat and eat, maybe it costs you another $25 a month and you will be closer to $150 a month for them.
My family spends around $100 per person per month on food. We feel we eat healthy, get enough to eat, and enjoy what we eat. I still eat way more than I should! See what you can do to reduce your grocery budget. Your future self will thank you because you will have a fatter bank account and maybe a slimmer waistline.