This is a collaborative post by ASPCA.
When you are in the midst of raising a family, especially if there are more than 2 or 3 of you, those grocery bills can skyrocket. And while we’ve all likely had the thought – I wonder if I can just quit buying groceries – at one time or another, that isn’t very realistic! With a little time and effort, you can feed your family in a nutritious and healthy way on a realistic budget!
A More Humane and Healthy Menu on a Budget
One thing to remember when shopping for groceries, or really trying to save money at all, if you think and plan ahead, you will save money in the long run. It isn’t uncommon to see someone grab something up for the sake of it being on sale or having a coupon for it. But, if you think ahead and plan out whether or not you will really use that item, you might save yourself money regardless of a sale or coupon.
Making lists are also a fantastic way to save money. Especially if you plan to visit multiple stores. You know exactly what you are getting, where you are getting it, and you are much less likely to spend on anything that isn’t already on your list!
Here are six simple ways to become a more aware and health-conscious consumer when shopping for your family’s groceries on a budget.
- Shop Locally – Using local grocer’s and local farmers’ markets help support local, often smaller scale, farmers and ranchers who are producing outside of the traditional factory-farm system. If you aren’t sure where to start, visit your local farmers’ market and start asking some question – this guide will get you started. Buying local also has health benefits by knowing that you are buying fruits, vegetables, eggs, meat, and dairy from grass-fed animals.
- Eat Seasonally – Eating foods in season means that you’re able to buy from a more local economy and avoid having your food shipped in from other countries. This means fresher foods picked at peak ripeness too!
- Always look for coupons – Even your local grocers will accept coupons. And if you find yourself having to shop at the bigger supermarket chains, using coupons can really help cut down your grocery bill. Just be sure to watch for labels on what you’re eating and where it came from.
- Conquer Labeling Confusion – Marketers create confusion with their flashy labels and clever catch-phrases. But unfortunately, sometimes they care more about finances than transparency. Words like “natural” or “humane” often don’t have any oversight to tell you as a consumer anything concrete. However, some phrases and labels do have regulations associated with their use, and that’s what you can start to look for as a savvy shopper.
- Be Careful to Minimize Waste – One of the ways we can really reduce our grocery bill is by making the most of the food we purchase. Purchase only what you know you’ll use and serve the right sized portions to avoid wasting what your family buys. This will help you if you aren’t sure where to start. If you are a family who likes to buy more in bulk, here are some tips to also save money and keep your food lasting longer!
- Look for Certifications That Mean Something – Unlike marketing gimmicks, there are certain certifications and awards that have true meaning. For example, the USDA Organic label shows that the produce grown (or fed to the animal) didn’t use banned pesticides. Others include Animal Welfare Approved or Certified Humane
For more information about how our shopping habits impact the lives of those around us – animals included – take a peek at the Good Groceries Guide.
Find more resources for savvy shoppers at the ASCPA Shop With Your Heart website!
And don’t forget to enter to win some fun items from the ASPCA!
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Rachel is an Austin blogger, educator, mom, wife, young breast cancer survivor writing about health, saving money, and living a happy life in Austin, Texas.
Rachel has written for HuffPost and Hometalk and has been featured on KXAN, Studio 512, Fox 7 Austin, and CBS Austin.