Let’s face it, busy modern lives don’t always slow down, allowing us to plan ahead and plot our weekly course.  Too often we are left reacting to what comes are way, rather than proactively shaping our days.  Unfortunately, flying by the seat of our pants is an easy way to waste money, especially on things like food.

The amount of money you spend feeding your family might surprise you when viewed as a weekly or monthly expense.  In fact, when it is all tallied, food costs are among the most prominent expenses in most family budgets.  As a result, effectively managing your family food spending is among the quickest ways to shave savings off your recurring expenses.

Shoppers each have their own approach putting food on the table, ranging from pantry stockers who look to lay in some essential provisions, to daily shoppers who don’t mind frequent trips to market.  Whichever strategy you use, there is room for money saving adjustments to most family food management methods.

Plan Ahead for Food Savings

Weekly Menus Help Planning Efforts

Keeping food flowing through your household is a balancing act; knowing when to buy what, and how much to bring home.  To hedge against overspending at the supermarket and protect yourself from throwing food away, food needs should be considered for the long term, rather than concentrating only on today’s meals.

Certain foodstuffs always have places in your pantry.  Staples like pasta and canned goods have stable shelf lives and are used frequently enough to warrant stocking up a bit.  Keeping a wide selection of essentials on hand ensures that you’ll always have somewhere to turn at dinnertime, and also carries additional benefits.  Stocking up while items are on offer, for example, is one way to save on food.  As long as they will be used before expiring, it makes sense to accumulate a few copies of your favorite family dishes when the ingredients are on offer.

Beyond the basics, managing your food flow requires a look into the future.  By planning weekly meals, each food item is accounted for, limiting wasted, spoiled food.  It also provides a helpful glimpse into family schedules, which are often to blame for inflated food budgets.  If you are working late, for example, or the kids have commitments during the week, it doesn’t make sense to plan meals that day.  Instead, eating on the fly is easily covered by leftovers, which are earmarked for that day.

Leftover food gets thrown away when other meals are prepared in their place.  Planning ahead for a week or so accounts for leftovers and extra portions remaining from weekly meals, plugging them in to feed the family as appropriate.  Roasts and poultry, for example, furnish more food than your family can eat at a single sitting, so leftover meat is repurposed into other dishes during the week.  Even the scraps can be used to prepare chicken, turkey, and beef stocks, which are boiled into soup and gravy bases for subsequent meals.

Shop on Your Terms

Leaving money on the table is easy to do when you let your guard down too far at the supermarket.  Instead of allowing retailers to drag you through their food stores, take ownership of your grocery items, shopping on your own terms.

You are your own best advocate buying consumer goods, so it pays (literally) to be as informed as possible during your shopping outings.  While it is true in all retail segments, food merchandising is particularly effective at pulling you away from your food budget.  To remain on track, use a well-crafted shopping list, directing you to only the items you need.  By sticking to the items it contains, your list thwarts expensive impulse buys.

Do you plan food ahead?How frequently do you shop? Please share your thoughts below as a comment.