According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the average family of two between the ages of 19-50 spent $375.40 on groceries during November 2012, and that's what the USDA considers the "thrifty plan." They also list three other spending levels that ranged from $479.70 to $745.50 a month.
As a middle class family of two, my husband and I budget $250 a month for food, which is less than the "thrifty plan," but it is what we feel we can comfortably afford. However, we recently learned we were spending much more than that. In fact, there were months we were spending close to $400 on food alone. I knew I needed to get our spending under control, so I looked for ways to make cuts. Here are three ways I'm cutting our food costs.
Reducing the number of portions we cook
A few weeks ago my husband and I decided to change our lifestyle to live a healthier life. We started by changing the way we eat, and that began with reducing the amount of food we were consuming. To avoid temptation we decided to only buy the exact number of portions we needed for one meal. For example, instead of buying four chicken breast we now buy a package of two, which cuts our spending in half. Shopping for food this way has already saved us $60 on a month's supply of food, and if this continues we can expect to save $720 a year.
Reusing bottled water
Not long ago we were buying a case of 24 bottles of water every week for $5, which was costing us around $20 a month. Admittedly, $5 isn't a lot of money, but taking $240 a year out of our budget really adds up. Instead of buying four cases a month, we plan to buy just one and refill the bottles for the rest of the month. This will save us $15 a month, or $180 a year, which is enough to pay our trash bill for three months.
Switching to instant coffee drinks
At the end of 2012, I took a hard look at the amount of money I was spending on cappuccino drinks every year. I learned I was spending around $576 a year on these drinks alone at local coffee shops. The number shocked me because I could make a mortgage payment with that amount of money. So, I switched from individual cafe cappuccinos to an instant mix I can make at home. Doing this reduced my costs to $5 a week, or around $260 a year. It's still a lot of money, but I'm saving around $316 a year.
If we stick with these changes, we will save nearly $1216 a year. I can then use that money to pay some of our other expenses, or put it straight into our savings account.
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