How to save $50 on your grocery bill and still eat tasty, nutritious meals?

Food prices have risen for various reasons, including the rising cost of gasoline, fertilizer, and labor.

You could “shop around” for cheaper groceries, but that would cost you more fuel or travel, not to mention time.

Research shows a healthy diet costs low-income households 20 to 30 percent of their disposable income.

But a healthy diet remains cheaper than a diet dominated by highly processed foods and drinks.

Lowering your grocery bill requires planning and flexibility — and knowing your budget.

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How to save $50 on your grocery bill and still eat tasty, nutritious meals?

So how do you do it?

Start by checking which fruits and vegetables are in season and find recipes that include them.

Replace some fresh fruits and vegetables with canned and frozen varieties, and replace expensive products with cheaper alternatives.

Eat a meat-free meal at least once a week.

Then make a shopping list. This helps save money by reducing in-store impulse purchases. Look at what you already have in the pantry, fridge, and freezer, and only buy what you need. This will reduce food waste.

Check online catalogs for specials before going to the stores. Once in the store, compare prices and choose cheaper brands. This makes nutritious meals more affordable.

How much do households spend on groceries?

A 2021 study found that the average grocery bill was $98 weekly for a single person, $145 for two, $168 for three, $187 for four, and $255 for five or more people.

An older 2016 study found that the average household (2.6 people) spent $269 per week on all purchases of food ($237) and alcohol ($32), both at the grocery store and at other outlets.

Sticking to a grocery list means you’ll likely spend less money. Photo: Getty

About half of the money was spent on “discretionary” items such as dining out or fast food ($80), with $20 on lollipops, chocolate, savory snacks, and chips and $10 on cakes, cookies, and pudding.

The supermarket spent $26 a week on fruits and vegetables.

A 2019 study found that the average person spent $300 a week on all food and drink. This included groceries ($135), dining out ($52), alcohol ($31), takeaways ($22), barista coffee/tea ($13), meal delivery ($12), supplements ($12), and health food ($11).

These studies show that it is common to spend more on food and drink outside the home than on groceries and more on unhealthy products than healthy ones.

How about saving $50?

Putting it all together, here are five key tips to keep in mind when planning food for your household:

1) Have a food budget

The total food budget is influenced by the number of people you feed, their age, and household income.

A rough rule of thumb is that it should not cost more than a third of the total disposable household income.

Allocate target amounts in your budget for core foods, nutritious foods, and discretionary foods and beverages (soft drinks, chips, cookies, cakes, lollipops, pies, pastries, and cold cuts) and out-of-home foods (coffee, fast food, pubs, clubs, bottle shops, and restaurants ).

2) Make a weekly plan for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks

Write a matching shopping list. Check the pantry, fridge, and freezer to see what you already have or if ingredients can be swapped out to save purchases.

3. Pack your lunch

Buy a lunch box and pack it the night before.

Put it in the fridge to grab it in the morning and go. For ideas, see our $5 homemade lunches.

If your mornings are too busy, pack breakfast items as well.

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4. Cook more meals at home

Making more meals at home can be cheaper and healthier versions of some of your takeout favorites, such as pizza and burgers.

A study from the United States found that those who cooked more at home spent half the money on food outside the house than those who cooked infrequently. They also spent 17 percent less on food overall.

Interestingly, both groups spent the same on groceries, suggesting that infrequent home cooks either wasted more food, ate more, or both.

5. Cook Double Portions

Cook larger batches of meals, such as curries, soups, and stews, and freeze them or eat the same meal twice.

For those who need to shop on a significantly tighter budget, we’ve developed a $60-a-week meal plan on our No Money No Time website.

This free resource includes an inexpensive recipe meal plan designed to meet the key nutrients needed for health.

If you need help getting food now, try the Ask Izzy website. By entering your zip code, it shows support services, such as free meals, near you.

Clare Collins, Laureate Professor of Nutrition and Dietetics, the University of Newcastle Megan Whatnall, Postdoctoral Researcher in Nutrition and Dietetics, University of Newcastle

The authors acknowledge the assistance of Hannah McCormick and Ilyse Jones of the No Money No Time Project team in preparing this article.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license.

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