Published: August 19, 2022
Many families are feeling stressed and financially strained by inflation and supply chain issues. Amid these challenges, families are prioritizing back-to-school spending. In fact, the National Retail Federation estimates that families with children in elementary through high school will spend an average of $864.35 on school items in 2022. However, when that spending on supplies cuts into grocery budgets, meal time can become especially stressful.
If your family’s back-to-school budget has been impacted, we’ve compiled the following money-saving tips:
- Avoid buying everything at once if you can. Prioritize the most in-demand items.
- Set a budget and make a plan. After doing an inventory at home and determining which items are needed more immediately, make a list to avoid impulse shopping.
- Consider wholesale stores if you have a large family or want to share the cost with friends on bulk items.
- Attend a back-to-school event near you. Check out our list!
Additionally, the busyness of back-to-school activities can throw off your meal routines. Taking time to get back on track with family meals may be helpful. Want a hand with stretching grocery dollars and meal planning?
- Use the resources available to you
Many grocery stores hire dietitians who offer meal solutions and cooking demonstrations. These experts can provide sound, practical advice for meal planning and cutting grocery costs while focusing on healthy foods. One example is the Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA)’s Meal Solutions. Additional options include the following, but be sure to check the stores in your local area:
- Consider store brands
Many generic brands offer items that have the same ingredients as name-brand items. Often, they’re made in the same factory. That means the only difference is the packaging. Not to mention, many grocery store-branded items promise high-quality ingredients at a lower price point, so give the generic store brand a try!
- Sign up for loyalty cards and programs
Grocery loyalty programs can help by providing shoppers with alerts on sales, deals, and digital coupons. Keep an eye out for those, and plan your meals around them. Doing so also helps to cut down on food waste!
- Buy frozen, canned, and in bulk
Low-cost, high-nutrient foods that can be bought frozen, canned, or in bulk can help save your family money. Consider canned or frozen options that can be substituted for fresh ingredients, especially if fresh options can go bad quickly.
- Plan to use leftovers
Leftovers can be less work. Reheating them can save you from potentially eating out when you’re too tired to cook and reduce the amount of food waste in your household. You can also use your leftovers in a different dish and still save time!
While back-to-school time can be chaotic, even briefly, it can be a relief to get back to a regular schedule. Remember that every meal doesn’t need to be a huge production! Saving money at the store can lead to nourishing meals and quality time spent with your family at the dinner table. Finding that time to reconnect is valuable.
In the next Nourish the Service blog post, we’ll talk about the benefits of family meals. So map out your meal plan, save money by putting these tips to work, and get ready!