The cost of food is probably one of your biggest expenses, after your rent or mortgage. Fortunately, it's one of the easiest expenses to modify. When you make the right choices at the supermarket, you'll find that you're spending less and less money -- money that may be better used paying down debt or adding to your savings account.
The cost of eating out is typically higher than the cost of eating in. Plan to eat the majority of your meals at home. You can make this more fun by planning and cooking meals together. Take this a step further by packing leftovers or sandwiches for lunch the next day.
Shopping Sales and Couponing
Coupon queens are able to save 50 percent or more off of their grocery bills by combining coupons and buying products that are on sale. Buy a Sunday paper and print online coupons for the items that you use most. Stock up when there's a big sale. You can get the biggest savings when you purchase a product that's on sale and combine a manufacturer and store coupon to buy it.
Even cheap cuts of meat are more expensive than vegetarian sources of protein. You can save money by planning to eat a few vegetarian meals each week. Try pasta with vegetables or beans with rice.
If you don't have a plan in mind when you hit the grocery store, you're likely to grab whatever looks good -- which isn't always the cheapest choice. Plan out your weekly meals and then create a list of things that you need for the week. Go grocery shopping just once per week. You can save even more if you plan your meals around the foods that are on sale that week. Look up your grocery store's flier before you plan your meal.
Fruits and vegetables are essential for a healthy diet, but they can be expensive. Whenever possible, buy the foods that are in season. This will be cheaper than out-of-season produce, which must travel long distances to get to the store. Frozen foods are just as nutritious as fresh -- sometimes more nutritious -- so they are a smart alternative when your favorite foods aren't in season.
Maggie McCormick is a freelance writer. She lived in Japan for three years teaching preschool to young children and currently lives in Honolulu with her family. She received a B.A. in women's studies from Wellesley College.