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Does your grocery bill make it difficult to stay within your budget? Do you find yourself spending more than seems reasonable on food?
It’s easy to do — but it’s also an easy problem to solve. These five tips and tricks will help keep your food bill down so you can spend your extra money on something useful (or fun).
1. Create a List and Stick to It
When you head to the grocery store, do you make a list or just wing it? If you’re only running out for a few things, you probably don’t bother with a shopping list. But regardless if you’re buying a little or a lot, having a list and sticking to it can save you money.
Stores want you to impulse buy. They hope you notice the snacks in the bakery, catch sight of the sale signs, and grab some goodies in the checkout line. However, if you purchase those impulse items that aren’t on your list, you’ll spend more than expected.
Grocery iQ is a great way to make lists on your phone. You can create multiple lists and add items quickly by typing a few letters and selecting from the suggestions. You can also add items to your list by scanning a bar code or using the built-in microphone.
If you enable your location, you can check out nearby stores. Plus you’ll see and be able to clip coupons for the items on your list.
Download — Grocery iQ for Android [No Longer Available] (Free) | iOS (Free)
2. Plan Shopping Around Flyers
Another great way to save money at the supermarket is to plan your trips around flyers for local stores. It’s always wise to review the deals for items you already plan to buy.
If you don’t get these circulars physically, there are other ways to do so. Flipp is a terrific app for checking out weekly circulars from your favorite stores. They currently have flyers for over 200 retailers, including grocery stores, pharmacies, and discount centers. You can browse by circular, coupon type, loyalty card, or category.
The app also includes a convenient shopping list and, with your location enabled, you’ll see local deals instantly. The website and mobile apps are extremely easy to use, making Flipp a great way to shop for sales.
3. Bring a Bag Lunch
Whether you head to work or school each morning, you likely plan on a lunch break. And eating out can be expensive, especially if you do it five days a week. Instead, consider bringing a bag lunch with you.
You may not love bologna sandwiches, leafy salads, or fruity yogurts. But there are many other options to try. And there are no better brown-bag recipes that the ones provided by Martha Stewart.
Her almost 50 recipes range from classic to modern. Try the tuna salad, tofu sandwich, Mediterranean chicken, or spinach and artichoke wrap. Each recipe provides the ingredients and directions, but also a cool option to see which items are on sale near your location.
4. Eat Up Your Leftovers
There’s nothing worse than cleaning out the refrigerator and attempting to figure out what’s in that container. Yuck! How much food do you waste by throwing away uneaten leftovers? And how much money does that cost you?
One way to stop wasting money on food is to bring those leftovers in your brown-bag lunch. Another is to find recipes where you can create tasty new dishes out of those leftovers.
BigOven has a convenient tool for using up leftovers. You just add up to three ingredients that you’re trying to use, and it gives you a variety of delicious recipes. If you’re not sure what to do with turkey, eggs, and orange juice, how about Vietnamese Aromatic Egg Wraps?
Signing up for a basic account with BigOven is free and allows you to save favorites, recipes you want to try, and dishes you’ve made. There are also paid plans available which let you save unlimited recipes, add private notes, and view nutritional facts.
To access this option on the web, go to Ideas > Use Up Leftovers. On the mobile app, tap Search > All > Use Up Leftovers.
5. Make Snacks for Road Trips
Whether you’re preparing for a three-hour drive to a theme park or a 20-hour trip across the country, bringing your own snacks can save you a bundle.
The easiest thing to do on a road trip is to stop at a fast food place on the way. But by making your own snacks and packing them in the car, you can avoid those fast food temptations along the highway.
Allrecipes has a subcategory for road trip snacks on their website. You can check out yummy recipes for Cinnamon Snack Mix, Taco in a Bag, or Spicy Bagel Bites.
Whether you want simple finger foods or something that you can enjoy at a rest area on your drive, Allrecipes gives you plenty of delicious options. And they won’t break the bank.
To access the subcategory on the website, go to Home > Recipes > Everyday Cooking > On The Go Recipes.
What Are Your Secrets to Saving on Food?
You should never have to sacrifice good food to save a few bucks. Whether you use all of these tips and tools or just one, you can still enjoy the foods you love while staying within your budget.
How do you save the most money on food? Is there a certain app, website, grocery store, or method that works well for you? Share it with us in the comments below!
Image Credits: nd3000/Shutterstock