Feeding Your Family on a Budget

In this tough economy, it becomes increasingly difficult to pay for the basic necessities in life such as food, clothing, and shelter.  As many of us have hungry mouths to feed, the question becomes, “How do I feed my family a healthy diet without breaking the bank?”

Here are some tips to help with your grocery purchasing, and to help you make good choices, both nutritionally and financially.

  1. Always use a Shopping List.  This will remind you of what you need, and will also help to avoid impulse buying.
  2. Don’t be “Brand Loyal”.  You may have that favorite brand of peanut butter, but instead of buying the higher-priced favorite, buy what is on sale.  If you compare the ingredients, you will find that many store brands also provide similar versions to the higher-priced varieties.
  3. Plan One Weekly Shopping Trip.  If you limit trips to the grocery store, you will probably reduce the amount you spend, as this eliminates “impulse” buying.
  4. Plan a Weekly Menu:  If you can plan out your dinners for the week, you can put all of the items on your weekly shopping list.
  5. Buy in Bulk:  Stocking up on many items including paper products, cereal and much more at wholesale stores such as Costco or Walmart can help you avoid having to continually shop for these items at the more expensive corner grocery stores.   In addition, if you buy the larger packages of chicken and beef, you generally get a better deal.  Simply break the larger quantities into smaller packages suited to your family size and use freezer bags to store them in your freezer.
  6. Buy Items in Season.  The price of strawberries can vary from $1.50 (in season) to $7.99 (out of season) per quart.
  7. Read Store Circulars and Clip Coupons.  Many local grocery stores send out their circulars in newspapers.  They can also be found at the store.  Be aware of the dates of the sale items and only buy the advertised items during the sale dates.  Pay attention to the coupons that print at the register at the time of your receipt.  A couple of websites that can offer free printable grocery coupons are coupons.com and shopathome.com.  Also check out athriftymom.com to get some menu ideas, coupon advice, and grocery store deals.
  8. Always Review Your Receipt.  I will never forget a trip to the store that I made about 12 years ago.  I bought a large amount of groceries, so I was expecting a big bill.  I happened to check the receipt as I was leaving the store, and noticed that a package of Muenster cheese, wrapped by the store with its own bar code stating a price of “$5.55” was scanned at the register as “$55.55.”

-Lory M.

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