In March of 2008, the U.S. Department of Labor estimated that a family of four spent an average of $8,513 per year on food, or $709 per month. It is also estimated that there is a 4% increase in food cost each year. If that estimate is correct, a family of four now spends about $9875 per year on food or about $823 per month on average. Breaking that down even further, that’s about $206 per week.
Sadly, I would have to say that our family pretty much fits the averages and that needs to change. We’ve made some changes over the last couple of months, but we need to get out of our comfort zone and take bigger steps in reducing the amount of money we spend on food.
One way we plan to save money on food costs is by re-establishing our garden. Seeds have been ordered and as soon as they arrive we’ll be planting indoors to get our seedlings started for the garden. But until our garden begins producing, I’ll still be making regular trips to the grocery store and that is where the changes begin.
Regular trips to the grocery store means once a week. The more often I visit the store, the more money I spend. Yes, I take a list with me on every visit, but too often additional items end up in the cart and those additions add up over time. So to help save me time, money and energy, I’m going to quit buying my groceries a week at a time. Instead, I’m challenging myself to only shop once per month.
Living in a small town means that a major shopping trip for me requires a minimum 20 mile drive one-way. Shopping once a month should save me between 2 1/2 – 3 hours in travel per month. If I’m driving less per month it’s saving us money in gas.
This is going to take a level of planning I’ve not tackled before. Planning a weekly menu is a bit different than planning a monthly menu. I need to make sure that I have a complete menu and list of items that I need for each meal. This means shopping my fridge, freezer and cupboards first then completing my grocery list. I can’t save money if I’m not using up what I currently have on hand.
This year has become the year of self-imposed challenges and I have to say that I pretty excited about this challenge and the possibilities. My challenge will begin March 1st and I’ll be sharing along the way so check back to see how it’s going.
Has your family made changes to help save money on your grocery bill? If so, what changes have you made and how is it working out for you?