Knowing how much money to spend on food is tough job for anyone in charge of managing the family budget. If you ask experts, you'll get an answer that falls anywhere between five and 15 percent of your overall household budget. The Bureau of Labor Statistics say the average is 12.5 percent, while the Department of Agriculture chimes in at 9.8 percent [source: AP]. What can be taken from this discrepancy is that food spending is one of the more discretionary line items in any family budget. You can inexpensively feed your kids instant soup and white bread or you can shop for organic vegetables and grass-fed beef on the other side of the money spectrum. So what's right for you may not satisfy your neighbor. But any way you cut it, spending money on groceries instead of in a restaurant is a great way to save money each month.
When it comes to shopping for groceries, there are many ways to trim your bill. You should start with a simple method that would make your mom proud -- use coupons. If you aren't an experienced coupon user, the best place to start is by trolling through your local Sunday newspaper. This is where you can strike coupon gold. Look for "buy one, get one free" coupons on items your family regularly enjoys. Also, check with your local grocery store to find out if they have double-coupon days. This is a great way to save even more money. You should always look in your pantry, fridge and freezer before you shop and make a list of what you need. Planning meals comes in handy in this case as well. If you have a tight food budget, using what you already have ensures that you have enough money to buy what you need.
Buy in bulk
Another good way to save at the grocery store is by buying in bulk. Chances are you have a membership-only bulk savings club in your area. You can get great savings on pretty much any food item you can think of by buying it in bulk. But don't fall into the trap of getting too much of something you don't often use. You don't want to end up with a five gallon tub of mayo and a monster box of mac and cheese in your pantry that you'll never use. Just like with coupons, stick with items you know you'll use, no matter how much you save. It's only a good deal if you actually eat the food.
You should also investigate store brands, or generic versions of foods you love. Studies have shown that the ingredients and nutritional value are the same as name brands and many times, it's the exact same product in a different package. When manufacturers advertise their brand name goods, these costs get built into the price you pay. Generic brands aren't typically marketed, so those savings are passed on to you.