How to Cut Your Winter Food Bills
Dec 30, 2020 03:36 PM EST | By Ernest Hamilton
Nope, you're not imagining things. You are hungrier in the winter. Science proves it's a biological response to the changing seasons. As daylight disappears and the temperatures plummet, your body kickstarts your appetite in preparation for a long, dark, and cold winter.
But just because it's completely natural to stock up your pantry and go back for seconds doesn't mean your budget is ready to bankroll all those groceries.
If you're wondering how you can satisfy your wintertime hunger without overspending, keep scrolling. This guide gives you pointers on how to budget properly and find savings at the grocery store.
How to Tell You're Spending Too Much on Food
Broadly speaking, you should spend no more than 20 percent of your income on food, according to the Credit Counselling Society. That said, you may need to spend more or less depending on your metabolism, diet, location, and family size.
This sliding scale makes it harder to determine if you're spending too much on food, but there are a couple of warning signs.
Warning Sign #1
You could be throwing away more than you can eat. The average American family wastes a literal ton of food each year, which breaks down to an annual loss of about $1,886.
Warning Sign #2
You're using cash from other areas of your budget to put food on the table. Like if you splurge on gourmet items and takeout instead of saving. At first, this may not seem like a bad habit, but it can leave you in a tough spot should you face an unexpected emergency.
If you tapped your emergency fund to try out a new recipe right before your water heater bursts, you might apply for installment loans online to afford the repair. While these short term loans are ideal for when you're facing an unexpected emergency expense without any savings, they should never accompany you to the grocery store.
How to Save Money on Your Food Bill
If you arrive at the grocery store with these three tips in mind, you may be able to cut your costs significantly.
Buy in Bulk
Bulk food is tricky. It tends to be cheaper, but it's easier to waste if you can't eat your way through perishable food before its best before date. However, with the holidays coming up soon, buying in bulk may actually make sense from a financial point of view. Just make sure the price-per-unit is cheaper than a regular grocery store.
Whether bulking up or picking up a single item, always buy food with intention. In other words, give each item a job in a specific recipe. Organizing your meals for the week helps you focus on what you need so that you can ignore impulsive additions to your cart. It also helps you cut down on costly food waste, as you can choose recipes that share ingredients and incorporate leftovers.
Shopping with your phone can help you save a considerable chunk of change at the till. You can download apps that help you with a variety of money-saving tips:
- Pinpointing the grocery store with the lowest price on items you need
- Finding coupons at your local supermarket
- Sharing flyers to alert you to sales (use this when making your meal plan for extra savings)
When all you want to do is hunker down and snack from the warm comfort of your couch, raising food costs seem like an inevitability. However, if you're crafty with the way you shop, you may be able to go back for seconds without piling on your costs.
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