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3 Easy Tips to Save Hundreds on Your Monthly Food Bill

Try as you might, there’s no escaping the reality of food cost. It starts at birth, follows us to death, and will likely consume hundreds of thousands of dollars over the course of your lifetime.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports that a family of four on a moderate spending plan will devote more than $1,000 to food in just a single month — ouch! With some planning, foresight and a few savvy shopping tips, let’s look toward cutting that number in half:

  1. Don’t eat out as often: A new study from the Department of Commerce shows that for the first time, Americans are spending more on dining out than on groceries. Eating out is fun and easy, but expensive. For two people to sit down and have a meal at a run-of-the-mill chain restaurant, it’s a challenge just to get out for less than $30 — double that number for a family of four. You can eat at home for about 80% less. Here’s a quick exercise. Go through your bank account statement for the past three or four months and add up how much you spent on food that was prepared outside your home. You may be shocked.
  2. Shop the sales: Let’s face it, we’re creatures of habit. Your household probably goes through the same fruits and vegetables, brands of soda, frozen pizzas and yogurts every month. Get in the habit of looking at the weekly sales flyers and purchase the items when, and where, they’re on sale. Shopping the sales can knock another 20% or so off the monthly bill.
  3. Make a plan and stick to it: Making a plan and knowing the weekly deals are only half the battle. Now, you have to stick to it. It’s easy to get sidetracked by items you hadn’t thought about at home, but be careful. “Just another $5…” adds us quickly and can bump up your final cost considerably. And another thing, if you haven’t figured it out by now, don’t go grocery shopping when you’re hungry — it will turn out to be an expensive trip.

There are many benefits to preparing your own meals, both on cost and healthwise. If your biggest barrier to cooking at home is time, then do a quick Internet search for fast homemade meals. There’s a little more legwork involved, but you might find that you can put together a nice meal in less time than it would take to round up the family and go out.