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Feeding your Family on a Budget

Budgets are being put to the test lately and it can be hard to fit everything you need to get into your budget each week. Between back-to-school shopping and basic groceries, you may not be getting as much for your money as you’d like. Here are some tips for how to stretch your dollar further and find good deals on the items you’re buying.


Grocery shopping is something you can’t leave out of your budget, even as prices go up it doesn’t change the fact that you still need to find ways to feed your family. However, for many cash-strapped families, an efficient way to save money on meals may come from a surprising source: restaurants. “A recent Consumer Price Index Summary by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics noted that while the cost of food-away-from-home purchases rose by 7.4% over a 12-month period ending in April, the cost of food-at-home purchases rose by 11.9% over the same period, indicating a greater increase in the cost of groceries over dining out”.

This inconsistency comes down to the advantages many food service providers have over the average consumer. These advantages include forward contracts to lock in lower long-term supply prices, wholesale food prices, and menu flexibility. All this said it doesn’t take into account other economic factors, such as fuel prices and widespread labor shortages challenging the food industry. Nonetheless, depending on the restaurant you choose, eating out every now and then may no longer be considered a splurge you can’t afford.

However, it can be easier to come home after work and cook your own meal than go back out with the family to find somewhere to eat, so it’s important to know how to make the most of your grocery shopping experience.

Have a Plan & Join a Wholesale Club

Before going to the store make a list of everything you need to get and stick to it. Make sure you eat first, so you aren’t tempted to grab spur-of-the-moment snacks out of hunger.

If you are shopping for a large family, wholesale clubs can help you save by buying in bulk. But remember you’ll have to spend more money upfront, though, you may pay less overall per item this way. Also note that clubs come with membership fees, though the cost can be worthwhile if you frequently stock up on items. Make sure to do the math before you invest. 

Loyalty Programs & Rewards

Most grocery stores have programs that are free to join, and you can benefit from member only discounts that automatically deduct at checkout. Another great way to save money is by clipping coupons for additional discounts. Search for coupons in circulars in the mail, online, or the store’s apps.

Pay for your groceries with your rewards credit card. Some credit cards offer cash back, discounts, and points that can be cashed in for purchases. Depending on what you're buying, make sure you're using the card that gets you the most value. Just make sure you aren’t spending money you don’t have. If you can pay your balance off every month, then you won't be losing those savings from being charged interest on your purchases.

Shop During Sales

Supermarkets are always running various promotions that can hep you save on grocery list staples.

  • Check the weekly mailer for upcoming sales at different stores.
  • Compare prices between stores for the best price.
  • Shop at a couple of stores to optimize savings.

Smart Shopping

Try to avoid pre-packaged items, those pre-cut veggies and pre-shredded items can save you time when preparing a meal, but these items are typically more expensive for the convenience. Instead buy whole items and slice and dice on your own to save money.

Many of your favorite name brand products have a store brand dupe – you just have to be on the lookout for them! These generic brands are often cheaper but just like the name brand without the price tag.

Consider using a rebate app like Ibotta and Rakuten, that give you cash back for buying groceries.

  • Register for free with one of these services to save more.
  • Can be used on top of loyalty benefits and credit card rewards.
  • You may need to link a loyalty card or submit receipts to receive a rebate.

Take your own reusable shopping bags to the store.

  • Some stores have completely eliminated or now charge for single-use plastic bags.
    • Currently in Denver stores charge at least 10 cents per bag.
  • Others, offer discounts off your order total for using your own bags.
    • Whole Foods Market can give you a 10-cent discount per bag you bring.

We hope you find these tips helpful, to make the most of your money while sticking to your budget. Happy shopping!


Sources & enhanced by Credit Union of Denver:

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