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It’s estimated that approximately 15% to 20% of the average family’s budget is spent on food. If your budget is tight or if you want to reduce variable expenses so that you can increase your monthly savings, there are numerous shopping habits and tips you can implement to save money on food. Evaluate these money-saving ideas and select those that are the best for your situation.

Organize to Save Money

Accessing your shopping habits is not necessarily the first step in finding ways to reduce your grocery bill. Instead, you might want to access the amount of food that you throw away each month. According to the Christian Science Monitor, Americans toss approximately $40 a month worth of food in the trash.

Part of the reason for food waste is that items get pushed to the back of the refrigerator and forgotten about until they spoil. Pantry items may get lost among the chaos in a disorganized pantry and remain unused until their expiration date has passed. In an organized pantry and refrigerator, you can see at a glance what you have on hand and prepare meals according to what needs to be used expediently.

Planning Saves Money

“Time is money” is a quote that is often attributed to Ben Franklin. It is a statement that can be applied to grocery shopping. If you take the time to review weekly grocery ads and plan your meals according to what’s on sale, you can save money on your overall food cost. Taking time to clip coupons or take advantage of online coupon sites is another way to reduce your grocery bill.

Bulk Buys

Buying in bulk can save you money. If you buy meat or produce in bulk, it’s essential that you package and store the food appropriately so that it doesn’t spoil before you can use it. Vacuum sealing mylar bags are an ideal way to ensure that the food you have purchased can sustain for an extended period of time.

Labeling items you store in the freezer and adding a purchase date to the package can help you keep track of what you have and of what needs to be used first. Once again, organizing is a habit that can save you time and money.

Healthy Eating

Adopting healthy eating habits can be beneficial to your health and your budget. Eating healthy can provide your body the vitamins and nutrients your body needs to stay healthy. This can result in fewer visits to the doctor and possibly prevent the development of long-term illnesses.

Seasonal shopping is a great way to save money on fruits and vegetables. Implementing preservation methods such as freezing fresh berries or summer vegetables will prevent you from having to throw away food with a short shelf life. Having some meatless meal days each month is another way to reduce your grocery bill and eat healthier.

Creative Cooking

Think outside the box to use up leftovers and small portions of unused food. Look in the refrigerator and pull out those small bags of unused vegetables and meat and make some interesting, healthy omelets. Soup is always a good way to use up leftover vegetables. There’s an endless list of items you can use as a pizza topping.

Regardless of how much money you save on food when shopping, if you don’t use what you buy, you have wasted both food and money. Plan your meals and snacks so that you don’t have to throw away food. Always remember that you can save money on food by making healthy food choices.