Whether you’re enticed by extreme couponing, all organic and antibiotic free grocery products, or meals you don’t have to make, your food choices will affect your budget. That doesn’t mean any form of feeding yourself is necessarily wrong, but there are smart ways to make sure you’re not wasting money on your meals. One way to save is to avoid falling for the latest food fads.
One of the major food fads to entice the budget conscious shopper is “extreme” forms of using coupons. It’s easy to go wrong when couponing. In your hunt for a deal, you can end up with products you’ll never use or so much of one product that it goes bad before you can use it. On the other hand, when you find coupons for products you routinely use, it’s a great deal. Restrict your coupon use to products you know you’ll use. If you really want to save money on your grocery bill, try meal planning based on a grocer’s sales ad or substituting store brands for name brands. Budget grocery shopping can be a big money saver, especially if you’re shopping for a family.
For the health conscious eater, organic foods are the natural choice. Choosing to embrace shopping at a fully organic specialty grocery store, however, is another one of the food fads that can cost you more. Organic foods generally cost more to produce and their prices reflect that. An extra $0.65 here or there may not seem like much, but when buying a cart full of groceries, it adds up. In the summer months, you may be able to supplement your grocery store finds with products from local farmers markets. You may find better produce at a lower price, just be sure to check with vendors to make sure their product is grown organically. You can also save some money by skipping specialty grocery stores. Because of the popularity of organic products, many budget grocers now stock them.
If you’re too busy to cook or if the art of cooking is one you never mastered, I won’t try to convince you to change your habits. Everyone has different habits when it comes to dining. Even frequent diners can save major dollars on their dinner bills. If you have a few restaurants where you regularly like to dine, sign up for their rewards/VIP/frequent dinner program. These often come with coupons for discounts and free meals. You can also cut your bills down a little at a time by cutting beverages from your bill. Many restaurants have steep prices for soft drinks and adult beverages. Even if you’re no chef, you can easily open a can of soda to enjoy at home.
Final tip—don’t scrimp too much when it comes to your food budget. A few simple changes can add up nicely, but your food has a direct impact on your health. Don’t sacrifice health for savings.