Grocery Shopping on a Budget

These are the weekly costs of groceries for a family of 4 with 2 kids ages 6-11 per the USDA 2018 (end 2018/most recent)

Thrifty plan Low-cost plan Moderate cost plan Liberal plan

$148.70 $195.60 $243.80 $296.60

How does your spending compare?? Do you feel like you spend too much at the grocery store? Check out the tips below to help.

Budget Tips From Actual Consumers

1. Make a budget. Your first step to sticking to a budget is to actually have one. To do that, you have to decide how much you can spend.

2. Comparison shop. A big part of budgeting is just being aware of how much things cost. You can literally compare apples to apples (ha) and spend, say, $2 less per pound by getting a different variety. Compare the ingredient list and nutritional information of two brands of packaged goods with a big price difference. While some things are cheaper for a reason, if you look at the labels and find that ingredients and nutritional information is the same, you’re literally only paying for the packaging. Be aware of price per unit, similar items may have different cost and we tend to go for the one that costs less. However, if for example the unit price is .16/oz for 18 oz at a cost of $3.00, or the unit price is .20/oz for 14oz at $2.75 we would get more for our dollar buying the $3.00 item.

3. Avoid distractions. Pick a store with fewer temptations. Depending on your personality, that could mean avoiding the candy or chip aisle at your local grocery store, or ordering online for delivery or pickup to help stick to your list.

4. Practice portion control. This may seem counter-intuitive, as many websites will tell you to buy in bulk, and a handful of foods, like nuts and grains, are legitimately cheaper in the bulk aisle. For many foods, buying more than you need just ends up being wasteful. Some people can eat or make leftovers useful, but others won’t touch them. So don’t buy a six-pack of chicken breasts when you only need four. Don’t pretend you’re going to make soup with the extra chicken if you never really do. Just buy what you need for the meals you know you’ll prepare. If your kids will only eat chicken legs, just get the four-pack of chicken legs.

5. Get the whole family on board. The more buy-in your partner and kids have on the front end, the less likely you are to end up with a plate of barely touched food at the end of dinner. While you should probably refuse to serve mac and cheese for dinner every night, setting expectations about what everyone will be getting for their meals can help with food waste.

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Registered and Licensed Dietitians serving individuals in Springfield, MA and the surrounding area. 

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