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Tracking and Cutting Down on Your Grocery Bill

There are many bills you can’t easily control, but your food bill isn’t one of them. Here are a few ways to help track and cut costs.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture in the Official USDA Food Plans for March 2016, the average American family with two parents (ages 19-50) and two kids (ages 6-8 and 9-11 years) spends $850.10 per month for a low-cost plan and  $1,287 per month for a “liberal plan.” That’s between $10,200 and $15,400 annually. Even a couple between the age of 51-70 spends over $8,500 per year.

But that doesn’t mean there isn’t anything you can do about it. A few simple tools can help you get a better grip on what you spend and cut those costs.

The first thing you need to do before you cut your spending is track exactly what you’re spending your money on. You could always use a spreadsheet, but there are some great apps that can help you keep track. These tools can help you zero in on exactly where your money is going, enabling you to see where you can alter your habits.

These tools can help you zero in on exactly where your money is going, enabling you to see where you can alter your habits.

Plan ahead

It may seem simple, but planning ahead will eliminate many of those fast-food runs or even additional shopping trips.

“When I work with clients, we find that the food budget is the single easiest way to reduce expenses and derive more satisfaction out of everything you eat,” stated Financial Planner and Contributor for Forbes Mindy Crary.

She recommends eight easy ways to cut your food bill in half, especially planning menus two weeks out, before grocery shopping; doing the grocery shopping only three times per month; and sticking to your list.

“Carve out time in your schedule (about 30 minutes) to plan your breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks for the next 10-14 days,” noted Crary. “Start by checking your kitchen cabinets for what you already have on hand, and build your menu to use up cans of soup and other staples.” 

Pay with cash

While it may seem difficult, using cash will eliminate many of those unnecessary purchases and help you stick to your list.

“Going cash-only when you head to your local supermarket forces you to stick to your budget, especially if you leave your cards behind and only bring the amount of money you’ve allocated for groceries for that particular shopping trip,” wrote Kathleen Elkin for Business Insider. She also recommends going generic, stocking up on seasonal items while they’re at their cheapest, and shopping the perimeter of the store where you’re more likely to find the healthier items like dairy and produce.

Saving money on groceries is easier than you think. Take the time to make a plan, and you’ll be cutting your food bill in no time.

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