Frugal Living

23 Tips To Cut Your Food Budget By 30 to 40%

23 Tips To Cut Your Food Budget By 30 to 40%

Food BudgetThe percentage of income spent on a food budget really varies for each income level; the bottom fifth of American earners spend a whopping 10 to 14% of the yearly family budget on food.  This is compared to 9% for the middle fifth, and 6% for the top fifth. In the past these numbers hardly ever included meals purchased in a restaurant; now 42% of money spent on food is spent in restaurants, and that number also varies somewhat by income level.  So, if you can reduce your food budget by 30 to 40% you drive the greatest benefits to those that need it most.

The editors at Mother Jones used data from to create an online food calculator so you can compare your food expenditures with others of your age, income category, as well as others from your area.  I found the spending calculator especially useful when buying for a family.  If you enter your age, gender, city, annual income, spending style the calculator will compare your data against food spending trends in the US: it is a wonderful way to start to calculate how much you might reduce you food purchases without affecting your quality of life.

We All Have Are Own Reasons To Reduce This Part Of Our Household Budget

It is important for me because I am trying to understand my big spending categories in my budget, cut them back, and funnel more money into savings; I am trying to put more away over the next ten years so I have that when I retire.  I’m finding that for me I can reduce my expenditures by about $2,500 each year, or almost $20,000 over the next ten years and still get all the same groceries in the exact same quantities.

This Is How I Get To A 40% Discount On My Food Purchases

My closest grocery store is SAFEWAY so I am learning how to squeeze the most out of each dollar I spend there (I can walk to the store easily so I get my exercise and I don’t have to spend additional money for gas). I joined the loyalty program so I use the online tool to qualify for member discounts when I purchase which gets me about a 32% savings off list.  If I buy at specific dollar levels I can sometimes take discounts on gasoline purchases or outright discounts and that takes me to about 35% off list.  If I watch for manufactures coupons on items that are on sale (this happens often) I can get close to 40% off of the list price for the groceries on my must buy list (I try to always buy from my shopping list)…The Golden Rule is that if it is not “on-sale”, I don’t buy it.  I have a special watch list for things like batteries, toilet tissue, laundry soap, etc.  SAFEWAY has special pricing on Friday where they list out over a dozen items that get get additional discounts that are beyond member pricing, or pricing discounts offered in their circulars.

Become familiar with which stores has the best quality and pricing for the items you routinely buy.  The produce is better and the pricing is slightly better at my Fred Meyers (also within walking distance).  They are owned by Kroger and because of their policy on openly carrying sidearms and assault weapons into the store the women in my family had one of those talks with me about not purchasing from the Kroger chain; sanity at Thanks Giving and Christmas seemed to be the greater goal.  When your wife, daughter, sister, niece starts a sentence with “this is important to me” the answer has to be “of course”.

Store Coupons Saves Just Over 30%

SAFEWAY is not alone in offering an online tool to be able to digitally clip store coupons. I build my shopping list each week after viewing the weekly circular and the online member coupons. There is also a point system that allows me to reduce the price of gas. I am able to reduce the cost of gas by $0.10 per gallon for each $100 I spend. There are times when this this will drop to $75 or the discount per gallon will increase above $0.10 for specific items. When I go to fill up I take both family cars and fill up both at the same time. This means I purchase close to 20 gallons of gas.  The annual savings on gas is a minimum of $100, but with careful timing this runs closer to $200 to $300 annually.

Know the Coupon Rules

1. SAFEWAY will redeem coupons only for the specific items included in a customer’s purchase transaction. The redemption value is stated on the coupon, unless that value yields a final price for such item less than zero; if application of the redemption value yields a price less than zero, the coupon will be redeemed only for the amount that yields a zero price (you will not get cash credit or payout from a coupon purchase). This is important when you are taking the store coupon and  also using a manufacturer’s coupon.  Don’t expect to get money back, you can possibly get an item for free.

2. Paper coupons must be presented at the time of the purchase transaction (be prepared in the checkout lane). My SAFEWAY accepts only coupons issued by Safeway, or the manufacturer of the relevant product. SAFEWAY will not accept photocopies of coupons. I print coupons from, and cut coupons from Red Plum.

3. Coupons are subject to advertised offer limitations and all other limitations and restrictions on the applicable coupon or product.  Know this it is almost always listed on the shelf , the shelf information has gotten pretty good.  Sometimes you will notice that the price per quantity is actually lower for the same item in a different size…Compare and watch for this.

4. Coupons may not be applied against any free item received in any offer.  SAFEWAY will have free items that the manufacture wants you to try, typically this is listed on the member sights.

5. Coupons have no cash value…This should go without saying.

6. Safeway will not accept manufacturer coupons (including, but not limited to, coupons issued through a Catalina or other in-store coupon dispenser) that display another retailer’s logo or name unless such coupon is for a specific item with the same product identifiers as the product included in our customer’s purchase transaction and is sold and available at the store.  Your store rules for coupons will almost always be listed on their website.

7. SAFEWAY will not accept coupons unless they have an expiration date. Expired coupons will not be accepted.  I have burned myself a couple of times by not watching expiration dates closely.

8. Coupons that appear distorted or blurry won’t be accepted.

9. Sales taxes will be applied in accordance with the law of the applicable state, regardless of any coupon or other discount that may apply to the purchase transaction.  This can really add up and needs to be watched closely.

10. Be aware that all applicable bottle and packaging deposits on purchased and free items have to be paid by you.

11. SAFEWAY reserves the right to refuse any coupons at its discretion, if you have an issue you can always take it to a manager in any store, feel comfortable in doing this.

12. Purchase reward thresholds (if any) will be calculated based upon customer’s final price (after deducting Club Card savings and all other discounts and savings) before deductions for any manufacturer coupons. As an example (and not as an offer), if a $10 minimum purchase is required for a customer reward, a customer’s order at full retail would be $12, a Club Card discount of $1.75 applies, and a manufacturer’s coupon of $1 applies, the customer would be given credit for a $10.25 purchase, and would be eligible for the reward (assuming compliance with all other requirements) even though the customer’s cash payment would be only $9.25. The manufacturer’s coupon would not be deducted from the total for purposes of determining reward eligibility. Purchase reward thresholds (if any) will be calculated based upon customer’s final price (after deducting Club Card savings and all other discounts)

13. References to a threshold purchase requirement will exclude purchases of: Beer, Wine, Spirits, Tobacco Products, Fuel, All Fluid Items in the Refrigerated Dairy Section (including Fluid Dairy and Dairy Substitutes), Prescription Items and Co-payments, Bus/Commuter Passes, Fishing/Hunting Licenses and Tags, Postage Stamps, Money Orders, Money Transfers, Ski Tickets, Amusement Park Tickets, Event Tickets, Lottery Tickets, Phone Cards, Gift Cards, and Gift Certificates; also excluded are: Bottle Deposits, Redemption Values, and Sales Taxes.

Printed Coupons

14. SAFEWAY accepts internet printed coupons. The store coupon rules above apply to all internet printed coupons. I use to get manufacturers coupons.

15. Internet printed coupons must be capable of scanning at the checkout, again if you have an issue feel comfortable taking this to a manager.

16. Internet printed coupons must have serial numbers and must follow an industry-standard format.

17. Manufacturer internet printed coupons must clearly indicate that they are a manufacturer coupon and must have a valid manufacture address on the printed coupon.  This is similar to the $3 dollar rule.

18. SAFEWAY will not accept “free product” internet printed manufacturer coupons.

Load to Card Club Coupons

19. Internet and digital coupons that have been electronically loaded to a Safeway Club Card are automatically redeemed at the time of purchase after the club card number has been entered. All other coupon policies apply.  You need to know your club card number or carry your card with you, this is a rule that you can apply to all grocers.

Doubling of Coupons

20. I am always looking for “double coupon” promotions where I can receive double the manufacturer coupon face value off the regular or club card price up to the identified limit. Limitations and restrictions for double coupon promotions may change so this needs to be watched closely. Changes will be posted in store only. “Double coupon” promotions do not apply to any internet or digital coupons except for applicable internet printed manufacturer coupons. These explanations and restrictions on “double coupons” apply to any promotion that increases the value of a manufacturer coupon beyond its face value. Read and watch this carefully, this is how you move your discount from 35 to 40% plus discounts.

How to Stack Coupons

21. Safeway does not allow a customer to redeem two or more manufacturer coupons against the same item in a single transaction (there are ways to make this work).

22. Coupon stacking policies for manufacturer coupons apply to paper and electronic coupons that have been loaded to a club card.

23. If a customer presents two coupons for the same item in a single transaction, Safeway will give the highest discount for that item, subject to the terms of the applicable offer and/or coupon.


I’m finding that for me I can reduce my expenditures by about $2,500 each year, or almost $20,000 over the next ten years and still get all the same groceries in the exact same quantities (based on just two adults).

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