My grocery budget has fluctuated throughout the years. When I was in college, I spent less than $50 a week on groceries for myself. As I have gotten older, my grocery bill has become larger. According to a 2012 Gallup poll, the average grocery bill was $151 dollars a week. While I try to stick to my food budget, grocery shopping seems to be my weakness. As a result, for a family of four, I spend about $200 a week on food or about 25% more than the average American.
My Dietary Needs Changed
I used to spend $150 a week on groceries. We would eat spaghetti with marinara sauce at least once a week. This meal cost me less than $5 to make. Yet, after having my second baby, my dietary needs changed. My son was diagnosed with GERD (reflux disease). This meant I couldn't eat much cheese, tomato products, fried food, carbonated drinks and more. As a result, I couldn't make as many inexpensive meals like cheese enchiladas, spaghetti or pizza. In addition, my husband and were both trying to slim down. As a result, we started juicing fresh vegetables. We were also eating more fish and lean protein. We lost weight. However, this made our food bill go up an extra $50 a month.
According to tlchowstuffworks.com, "the USDA estimates that organically-produced food can cost anywhere from 10 to 30 percent more than conventionally mass-produced food." Where I shop, organic chicken breasts cost about $6 a pound. Furthermore, a dozen organic eggs may run about $4. I know I can get these conventional items at half of the price. However, the additives are not worth the savings to me.
It's not any secret that Americans eat a lot of processed foods. In fact, according to npr.org, in 2012, "22.9%" of America's grocery bill was spent on processed foods. In general processed food is cheaper. I can buy a package of boxed macaroni and cheese for about $1. I can add some canned vegetables for another $1. Yes, I can feed my family for a few dollars. However, a meal of fresh fish and salad will cost closer to $10.
While I use coupons, there is a lack of coupons for unprocessed foods. As a result, I find a hard time using coupons when I shop. Recently, I have been searching for more coupons for fresh and organic foods. I have also emailed companies to ask for coupons. As a result, I received some salad, carrot and berry coupons. With a little bit of work, this can save me about $25 a month on my grocery bill.
Meal planning is another way I can cut my grocery costs. When I make a plan and a list, I buy only what I need for meals. In addition, I can look at the circular to make sure I am buying apples on sale. It's easy to save money when I buy the organic apples for $1.99 a pound rather than $3. Meal planning prevents me from wasting food or making impulse purchases. By doing this, I can slash an additional $25 off my bill.
I may spend too much on my grocery bill. However, with a little planning, I can reduce my grocery bill so that I'm closer to the national average.
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More from this Contributor:
- Food & Cooking
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