Is half of your paycheck going to groceries each month? It doesn't have to.
By following several simple steps people can cut their trips to the grocery store and their food bill in half, according to Steve and Annette Economides, authors of Cut your Grocery Bill in Half with America’s Cheapest Family.
The Economides, who had little money to spend on groceries when they first married, said they were able to feed their family of seven by spending around $350 a month.
The couple said they planned meticulously and were able to get all the food they needed for an entire month by going to two grocery stores and spending four hours shopping just once a month.
“America has forgotten that … planning a menu for your dinners alone, or cutting your grocery store trips even to just once a week, will cut your grocery bill in half right there,” Annette Economides says.
So, how can you start slashing the amount you spend at the grocery store? Here are a few tips from the Economides:
1. Plan your meals
While planning an entire month of meals may sound daunting, if you want to cut your grocery bill in half, planning is the way to do it.
Start small by planning your meals for a week and move up from that, according to the Economides. And if you’re in the habit of going to the grocery store without a plan, it’s time to rethink your strategy.
“If you write your shopping list on a napkin get an app or a big piece of paper,” Steve Economides said. “Having a preprinted list of all the things you buy is a mental cue to remember to check these things to make sure you have it in stock and get out of the spontaneous and into the planned stage of grocery shopping.”
2. Shop the deals
You don’t have to use coupons to save money at the grocery store. The Economides say people should constantly watch for deals and look for items they can purchase that are discontinued or overstocked and thus available for a cheaper price.
Buying the sale items in bulk will help keep your pantry stocked and lock in the discount price, according to the Economides.
And the deals aren’t just in canned and bagged goods.
Steve Economides said they've found great deals on meat products, which they’ve been able to buy in bulk and freeze.
"Now instead of shopping for what we eat this week which many do, we now shop only for produce that go bad, perishable and sale items," Steve Economides said. "Annette looks at what is in stock in the freezer and we shop from the freezer and pantry and that way we are eating food that is already discounted."
As with all things, be aware of expiration dates and mark the products with a sharpie, so you are aware of what needs to be eaten first.
If you end up buying sale items, but never use them you would have been better off without purchasing them at all, according to the Economides.
3. Cut down on grocery store visits
If you’re in the habit of going to the grocery store multiple times a week, you’re likely spending more money than you need to on impulse purchases.
If you're going a few times a week, cut down to one, Steve Economides said. He said many people aren't aware of how much they are actually spending at the grocery store.
If a family of four spends around $200 a person each month, annually that's $9,600, Steve Economides said.
"How many people would go out and buy a used car without any research or planning and spend $9000," he said, "You're going to spend the money, so if you plan to reduce your trips, buy more efficiently and buy sale items you can save significant amounts of money."
USA TODAY Network