Conquering the Food Budget
Living on a fixed income is one of the things that take some getting used to as a senior citizen. And even if you have a healthy retirement, investments, a 401K plan, and Social Security benefits, when you stop working, your income comes out of that nest egg which is a diminishing bucket of funds. So anything you can do to protect your money and economize means your money will last longer, be there for you when you have an emergency, or be available for fun things, which is what retirement is all about.
If you can continue to prepare your food, you are already well ahead of the game because one considerable expense for any budget is the food budget. And if you are buying food for a spouse, older children still at home, or helping raise the grandkids, you can see a food budget that can get out of control. So it pays to come up with some tips for slashing that food budget but do so in a way that does not hurt the quality of food you eat or feed your family.
The economy begins at home, so you can do a lot before you even go to the grocery store by learning to use everything you buy. Investing in some quality storage units to keep leftovers fresh or fresh vegetables or fruits on hand will help you eat everything you buy and cut down on waste. If you like to garden, you can even take organic waste such as coffee grounds and apple cores and make your compost which can go into your garden to grow your food next spring.
But the key to saving money at the grocery store is to be a savvy shopper. Remember that grocery stores stock lots of items that are made to appeal to people who want convenience over low prices. So you can save a lot of money by avoiding fast foods, frozen foods, or “TV dinners” and buying the ingredients to make your meals daily.
Being an intelligent shopper also means knowing when and where to shop and how to find the good values in food and grocery supplies at the store. Some core principles of smart shopping are…
§ If you can buy in bulk – do it. Most items are cheaper at the unit cost level if you buy larger quantities. So if you can buy and store more food at once, you can take advantage of those savings.
§ Avoid impulse purchases. Stores carefully place appealing items so you will buy higher-priced items. Work from a list
and stick to your list.
§ Slice your cheese. Pre-sliced cheese comes at a higher price. Buy a good cheese knife, buy cheese in blocks, and slice it yourself.
§ Buy fresh produce. Fresh foods are not only better for you, but they are also cheaper.
§ Know your town. Each grocery store has specific categories they do best at outselling the others. Know what stores are good with produce, meat, and everyday savings, and create your shopping lists accordingly.
§ Know your store. Each week, your store marks certain items in preparation for the weekend. Routinely, they will slash fresh meat prices to get rid of last week’s supply in preparation for the higher-priced specials for this week. Knowing when that stuff hits the shelves, you can score significant savings and freeze what to you over the next few weeks.
§ Know your items. Learn your price points of a reasonable price for each item on your list. Try to buy under those price points, so your budget is controlled.
§ Buy store brands.
§ Use coupons.
§ Leave the grandkids home. Children will add dozens of items to your shopping cart and slow you down. Leave them out of the picture; you won’t have to buy their impulse items, and the trip will go faster too.
By being a savvy shopper, you can stretch your food budget and see impressive savings on what you spend on groceries. And that helps you stretch your retirement savings which m, which means, a more prosperous retirement and one that is more worry-free as well is worth the extra effort. 742