The majority of Americans spend most of their money on three things: rent/mortgage, transportation, and food.

When you’re trying to save money, cutting your food costs may be an excellent place to start.

You don’t have to spend hours cutting out coupons or buy more in bulk than fits in your freezer to save money on food. There are simple methods you can easily employ to cut down on your food costs.

Cook at home

The is the obvious and most likely to save you the most money way to save on food. Many of us avoid cooking our own meals — whether it’s because we feel we don’t have time, we’re tired, or take out is just too tempting. Eating out is far more expensive than cooking our own meals at home so if you’re trying to stretch your food budget, start by increasing the number of meals you prepare at home.

Share meals

If you’re not ready to eliminate eating out, try sharing meals at restaurants instead. Plus, you’ll find it’s easier to avoid overeating when you share, and you’ll be cutting down on food waste.

Set limits

Set aside exactly how much you want to spend on groceries. Stay within your limits. It’s helpful to know your limits before you head off to the grocery store.

Go generic

“If it costs more, it must be superior,” doesn’t always apply. Many times, when buying name-brand groceries instead of the generic, you’re only paying more for the name and advertising. There are products where the name-brand may be superior to the generic but for many groceries, staples like flour, coffee, and spices, you’ll probably be better off going generic and saving the extra money.

Buy bulk

Not everything of course! Buying in bulk is only wise if you know you’ll use all of it.

Pass on pre-cut

Instead of pre-cut fruits and vegetables, purchase whole. Pre-cut and packaged fruits and vegetables on average cost between 30-50% more than if you had bought whole and cut them yourself.

Stay in season

The cheapest fruits and vegetables are going to be those that are in season. Follow a list of available fruits and vegetables by season.

Give grocery ads a glance

Before you head to the grocery store, give your store’s ads a look. It requires a bit more thought, but by planning around what’s on sale, you can save a lot.

Freeze leftovers

Save money as well as avoid adding to food waste by freezing leftovers. Pick up some containers and freeze what you know you can’t eat. Pull these containers out anytime you feel too tired to cook a full meal.

Use membership cards

Most major stores have membership or club cards that will increase your savings. These cards allow you access to sales and special lower prices if you take the time to sign up. Some stores even allow you to earn cash back when you use your card.

Shop online

Online grocery shopping might seem like it would be expensive but depending on your needs, it may actually end up saving you money. Without the stress of roaming aisles, you’re less likely to spend on impulse buys.

Adjusting your food budget takes a little time and effort, but with these simple changes, the money you save may be worth it.

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