Do you know how much you spend on groceries every week? The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports the average family of four spends between $146 to $289 on groceries per week based upon national food intake data and grocery store price information to calculate the cost of the healthy diet at home. For members and non members alike, here are my top five tips to make the most of your grocery dollars:
1). Shop with a plan! If you’re not planning meals in advance and making a comprehensive list before you go – chances are you will be making multiple trips to the store, which not only wastes time and energy, it will also make your spending harder to track and budget. The PCA vastly streamlines this process, but you can still go through the ingredients of every recipe you plan to cook for the week, make a list, then cross off everything you already have in your pantry or fridge, and add any household items (dish detergent, paper towels etc.) you need before you shop.
2). Shop sales. See what meats, fruits and vegetables, and packaged goods are on sale that week and plan your menu around sale items. Saving coupons will boost savings much further too. One of my members says “(The) PCA has inspired me to purchase meats that are on a BOGO sale. Since I now know how to properly prepare and store meals because of PCA, I’d estimate that I save about $15 per week just in the meat department alone.”
3). Buy store brands. Store brands will generally save you 5-10% over name brands for the same product (compare labels to ensure this is true), and sometimes more during sales. Although these usually have a long shelf life, be ware of over purchasing – if you do not end up using it, you wasted money vs. saving it!
4). Buy in season or frozen fruits and vegetables, and use dried herbs instead of fresh. Fruits and vegetables in season will not only taste better, they’ll be less expensive. Frozen fruits and vegetables are flash frozen at the peak of their freshness, so most of the nutrient content is preserved. You can substitute frozen for fresh in most recipes by knowing simple adjustment rules such as frozen vegetables will take less time to cook, and dried herbs pack a more concentrated flavor, so use a teaspoon of dried herbs when a recipe calls for a tablespoon of fresh.
5). Drink filtered tap water. We waste a huge portion of our grocery budgets on beverages, and most of us don’t drink enough water anyhow. You really do not need to purchase any beverages other than perhaps milk. I worked out that I would save roughly $125.00 a month in bottled water alone, and we know how Americans love to consume soda!
When I asked Personal Chef Approach™ members if they noticed a difference in their grocery spending since joining, here’s what a couple had to say:
“I know almost exactly… it’s roughly $40 a week and that’s before the lack of wasted food,”- RCL
“I think $20-40 is about right as far as cash goes. Running to the store repeatedly for forgotten items and impulse buys and wasted food are other costs that are hard to figure.” - SJ
Even when calculating the more conservative estimate of $20.00 savings per week when using the PCA, that’s a savings of over $70.00 a month after covering the price of membership! Now are you more interested in seeing how it works?
Shopping with an organized grocery list eliminates unnecessary purchases, while cooking your week’s dinners in advance ensures none of the food goes to waste. Even when personal plans change last minute, prepared meals can be stored in the freezer for a later date. In addition, fewer trips to the store, and cooking all-at-once will preserve both energy and dollars. What would you do with that extra $70.00 to $140.00 a week savings?