Food is a necessity in life. We need it to stay alive and to provide energy so we can complete daily tasks. When we eat food we like, it can bring us pleasure and provide us comfort. However, when you are living on a tight budget, it can be difficult to stretch your food budget enough to purchase an adequate supply of food to last the month. These tips on how to make your food budget stretch will save you money and increase your food purchasing power.
Planning meals ahead of time can keep you focused on the things you need to purchase in the grocery store. Just as with clothes shopping, grocery shopping can lend itself to impulse purchases that make it hard to budget your food shopping. Plan a monthly menu out with the ingredients needed to make each meal. Make a list of all of the ingredients needed on a separate sheet of paper. You now have a shopping list to help make your food budget stretch.
Reduce the Amount of Sale Tax You Pay
Take inventory of your shopping list. Separate the items that are taxable from the ones that are not subject to sales tax. Some grocery stores charge sales tax for bottled water, soft drinks, juices and snack food. The sales tax on these items can be budget killers, not allowing it to stretch very far. Estimate how much these items may cost you, and then figure out the sales tax. If your sales tax hits $5.00 or greater you should consider eliminating some items such as a few soft drinks and some of the snack food items. Eliminating unnecessary sales tax can help make your food budget stretch.
Say No to Brand and Store Loyalty
You may like Perdue chicken, however if another brand of chicken is on sale then put the Perdue down and get the cheaper brand. Some people are loyal to one brand; however if a different brand is cheaper, buy it. This also goes for grocery stores. Just because you like a particular grocery store does not mean you have to shop there exclusively. Other stores may have better sales during the time you do your grocery shopping. Brand and store loyalty can be budget killers when trying to stretch your food budget.
Look Out for Coupons, Sales and In-Store Specials
Check the grocery store ads for every store in your area. Pick out the ones with the best sales for the items on your list. Now create a shopping list for each store and add up how much the items will cost for each store. Next, round your totals to the next $5.00 to play it safe. When you go shopping at these stores, look for manager specials. You may be able to get additional savings for certain meat products on your list to help stretch your food budget farther.
Be sure to sign up for grocery store savings cards, if available. These cards often grant additional savings on existing sale items and items not advertised. Plus they save you way more than manufacturer’s coupons alone, which often require you to buy two or three items to save $1.00.
If you like to do your grocery shopping at your local Super WalMart, you may be able to get additional savings if you find grocery items on sale from a local competitor at a lower price. WalMart may match that price, saving you time from going from store to store. It is best to ask a WalMart store manager for the details as there are stipulations on what is eligible for price matching. It may not hurt to contact the grocery stores in your area to see if they have price matching programs as well.
Manufacturer’s coupons are an ideal way to stretch your food budget when a grocery store has double or triple coupon sales events. During such sales events you can combine a manufacturer’s coupon with a store coupon for the same item for extra savings. Sometimes these double and triple coupon sales events can get you grocery items for under a dollar and at times a grocery item may cost you nothing during such events.
If clipping coupons is too cumbersome of a task to engage in for every shopping outing, hold off until your local store(s) has a double or triple coupon sales event. Another alternative to clipping coupons is to have them mailed or emailed to you. Clubs such as Susan Samtur’s Select Coupon Program allow you to choose the coupons you want sent to you.
Remember the four tips on how to make your food budget stretch: Plan ahead, separate taxable purchased from non-taxable, forget brand loyalty and watch for special coupon events, sales and in-store specials. With these tips you not only will stay on target with your food budget, but you have your meal plan already established. Now there will be no need to wonder what you will fix for dinner tonight. With careful planning and paying attention to savings, you can make your food budget stretch.