Almost 50% of Americans spend more than they earn per month. Groceries can be particularly hard to budget correctly and, often, we can lose track of what we’ve spent on all those quick trips to the mall to get ‘just a few things.’ Being more aware of our grocery costs, however, doesn’t mean cutting back on food. Rather, by being organized, more mindful of our outgoings and, if need be, reaching out to our Catholic community, you will find that your money can go a long way.

Be savvy with grocery store cards

One way of saving money effectively is by taking advantage of grocery credit cards. By being smart with your use of them, you can benefit from cashback and other cashback and other rewards. By doing your research and choosing the right card for you, you may also save money with lower interest costs and benefit from an improved credit score, which can have huge implications for you and your family in the long term.

Shop online or plan trips to the store in advance

You spend more when shopping spontaneously compared to a planned shopping trip. Having no shopping list, or time to properly consider what you need, will more than likely result in you buying things you don’t need or just desire (especially if you are hungry or tired). Ideally, try to use cash instead of a card when out shopping; this will help you pay more attention to the costs of things and stick to buying the things you need. Shopping online, meanwhile, is a particularly effective way of budgeting because you can see how much your shopping has come to before you pay for it.

Participate in regular ‘bring and share’ meals

A weekly ‘bring and share’ get together is a great way of saving money on food while also meeting up with friends. For example, you might arrange a weekly gathering in the Church hall after Sunday Mass, giving you the chance to meet other Parishioners and welcome ones into the Church, all while sampling different dishes. It can help to establish beforehand what sort of food or drink people will bring so that you don’t end up with ten meatloaves, but at the same time, as long as there is enough food for everyone, it doesn’t matter too much.

Managing your grocery costs: the takeaway

Budgeting for your family can seem like a very daunting task, especially when it comes to managing your groceries. However, it really is quite easy to achieve.  Simply jot down all your regular monthly outgoings (such as rent and bills) and deduct these from your monthly earnings. If possible, allow for any unexpected costs by also deducting about 1% of your monthly earnings. Plan your meals for each week (cooking your own food as much as possible), and write down everything you need for these, along with any household essentials. If you are able to, shop for your groceries online. Alternatively, go to the store with a clear head, and shopping list in hand. Finally, be disciplined; you and your family will soon reap the rewards.