The Secret to Keeping Your Grocery Spending Under Control   

Aside from your mortgage, your biggest monthly expense is probably groceries. And unlike your mortgage, car payment, and most other bills, you actually have some control over how much you spend at the grocery store.

Create a grocery budget

Start by tracking how much you spend on groceries for a few weeks. Then set a weekly or monthly budget. Plan to spend this money on groceries, and whatever you do, don’t exceed it.

Next, try cutting your budget by $20 per month. Keep going and see how low you can go. The rest of these tips will help you do this without feeling like you must deprive yourself.

Keep a price book

Who doesn’t love a bargain or a good deal? They’re everywhere in stores, but do you know if what’s being touted as a bargain is actually saving you money?

Keep a small notebook in your purse or a text document on your phone with the regular prices of the items you buy most often. This will help you determine not only if the “bargain” is really a bargain, but also which kitchen staple is cheapest and where, and adjust your shopping accordingly. Your price book is also very useful when you’re looking through the weekly grocery brochures. You can decide if it’s worth a trip to the store long before you ever step foot outside the door.

Come up with a few thrifty meals

You don’t have to turn everything upside down and live on nothing but rice and beans all week. Instead, think of a few inexpensive dishes that your family enjoys eating. This could be rice and beans. Or how about a big pot of soup or chili. Often, meatless meals are the best solution or use meat in small portions on thrifty meal days.

Eating sparingly even a few days a month and using up all leftovers will make a big difference in your food budget.

Cut out the extras

Make a list before you go to the store and stick to it. All those little extras like the fancy bread from the bakery or the candy you bought at the register add up quickly. Get in the habit of leaving those extras out unless there is a good reason to buy them. Stick to your list, and you’ll lower your grocery bill by quite a bit each week. It’s amazing how all those little extras add up.

Try these tips and see if you don’t save big each week. What you do with the extra money each month is up to you. Save for a nice summer vacation, pay off your credit cards, or build your financial safety net.

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