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How To Save Money Effectively With 10 Simple Acts

How To Save Money Effectively With 10 Simple Acts

When money is tight and it’s time to start cutting back on spending then targeting your grocery shopping is a great way to cut costs. It’s so easy to over-spend on good food and luxury items without really realising. Making a few changes to the way you grocery shop can save you so much money and will get you into good habits when searching out bargains.

Shopping cheap doesn’t have to mean eating low quality and unhealthy food; you can still eat delicious meals on a budget – it’s just about spending smart. Here are some great ways to save money without cutting on the quality.

1. Make A List

Sounds obvious but how many times do you have a list but buy loads more once you get to the supermarket? Most of the time we only write down what we know we’ve run out of and end up buying more on top of that. It will save you a lot of money if you sit down and make a plan of action to work out what kind of items you’re going to aim to get and making notes of what deals the stores are currently marketing. Write down your budget at the top and aim to stick to it as closely as possible.

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2. Use Coupons Only When Necessary

Coupons can save us loads of money if we use them in the right way. Don’t use coupons on anything you don’t really need just because you want to use the coupon. It can be tempting to do this but we do just end up spending more than we need even though we think we may be getting a cheap deal. If the item is a necessity use it, if not throw that coupon away!

3. Check Unit Prices

It’s always a good habit to check the unit prices on the price label. We tend to forget to do this as it’s usually pretty small to see but you’ll be surprised just how much the cheaper option isn’t actually as cheap as you thought. You want to get as much as possible for your buck so make sure those unit prices add up; it may mean a little maths but it’s worth it!

4. Buy Own Brands

It’s very tempting to stick with brand named products because we’re under the illusion that these are of better quality. It’s been shown time and time again that shop-brand products have next to no difference in taste or quality, only in price. So just because the label doesn’t look as pretty or you’re not used to a different brand it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t buy it. With brands you really are just paying extra for nothing so make the switch.

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5. Don’t Shop Hungry

Always a good tip – never ever shop hungry. With blood sugar low, studies have found that you can actually spend up to 70% more when you’re hungry as opposed to not being hungry. Not only that but you will more likely buy the wrong kinds of foods which are always more expensive. So always go grocery shopping post-meal to save those pennies.

6. Plan Meals After You Buy

Sounds like a backwards habit, right? But planning exact meals and then shopping for them can cause you to spend more. If you know the recipe calls for cheap foods then it’s okay but if you like to make random recipes and buy the ingredients as you go you can end up buying more expensive items. It’s much better if you buy the cheaper foods and then plan meals around them later – it can be fun finding good and interesting recipes that you can use your ingredients for!

7. Look For Sale Items

Always a great habit to have. Supermarkets always have that shelf where they put all the food or other items that they need to get rid of. Either they’ll be going past their sell by date soon or the packaging will be damaged but it makes no difference other than the price!

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Make sure you stop by and have a look to see what they have to offer. If the food is about to expire in the next day or two then it’s easy to just freeze it as soon as you get home. Of course try not to buy random items you don’t really need as this is counterproductive in saving the cash. So focus on rock bottom prices on items you know you’ll need or normally use.

8. Bulk Buy on Deals

Sometimes bulk buying can feel like you’re spending more money but think of it as an investment. If toilet rolls are on a ‘buy one get the second for half price’ deal then snap it up. You know you’re going to always need toilet rolls so it makes sense to stock up on this deal. Always be on the look out for deals on essential items or items you know you use a lot. You will save money in the long run.

Make sure you don’t get seduced on deals for luxury items or items you don’t usually use – it can be really tempting but you aren’t really saving money even though it may seem like it. Supermarkets love to market deals to make you think you’re saving money but most of the time you won’t be.

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9. Stock Up on Versatile and Cheap Foods

Stocking up on food items that can be used in many weird and wonderful ways can save you loads of money. Take potatoes for example, they really are one of the most versatile things on our shopping list; they can be mashed, fried, boiled made into hash browns, potato wedges, fries, baked potatoes – so many amazing ways to use them. Lentils, beans and vegetables are also great at bulking out meals making them a healthy and cheap way to eat more without spending a lot.

10. Go Meat-Free At Least Once a Week

Meat can be expensive. Look out for good deals at the meat counter to save money but another alternative is to go meat-free for one or two days a week. No problem if you’re already a veggie or a vegan but for the meat-eaters out there, meat is a massive addition to your weekly shopping spend.

There are so many delicious recipes that don’t include meat and will leave you nicely satisfied; meat isn’t as much of a necessity as we may think. There are many cheap ways to add protein to a meal, for example eggs, lentils and pulses or soy.

Further Tips To Save Money

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    • Invest in a slow cooker. Slow cookers are amazing because not only do they save you time but they save you money as well. You can throw the simplest of ingredients into it and it’ll make great warming stews, soups – pretty much anything. You can also make large amounts and make it last over a couple of days.
    • Your freezer is your best friend. A freezer is almost a necessity when it comes to cutting your spending on food. Freezing food found on the sale shelf to prolong its life can allow you the convenience of saving money and eating it at a later date. Bulk cooking and freezing meal-sized portions will extend the amount of meals you have and save you loads of money. Any deals you find on food that will easily go off can be separated into sizeable amounts and popped in the freezer for later. Basically if you want to save money, then freeze!
    • Research cheap recipes. Spending time researching delicious recipes that use cheap ingredients will give you an idea of what kind of items you should go for when shopping. There are loads of great websites out there that you can go to – thankfully eating cheap doesn’t mean eating noodles every night.
    • Eat leftovers for lunch. Never waste anything. If you have a small amount leftover then have it the next day for lunch.
    • Eat meals on smaller plates. The problem with large plates is that we can tend to make portions unnecessarily bigger resulting in eating more than we need to. Using smaller plates will keep the portion as it should be and therefore not eating too much into the budget!
    • Do food shopping at the end of the day. Shopping at the end of the day preferably after you’ve eaten is the best time to save money. You’re full from dinner and this is usually the time that supermarkets put their fresher items on sale so shop later for a bargain.
    • Try visiting ethnic food shops. Don’t just limit yourself to supermarkets. Ethnic shops are great for cheaper items and you can usually find unusual ingredients to make your meals a bit more fun.

    Featured photo credit: unsplash via pexels.com

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    Jenny Marchal

    A passionate writer who loves sharing about positive psychology.

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    Published on January 17, 2020

    How to Eat Healthy on a Budget (The Definitive Guide)

    How to Eat Healthy on a Budget (The Definitive Guide)

    Have you ever looked at health gurus and wondered how on earth they can afford all that health food? Or maybe you’ve tried multiple times to start eating healthy only to find the $600 monthly budget overwhelming?

    If you’re anything like me, you know exactly what I’m talking about! I absolutely understand the sinking feeling of looking back over a grocery budget and finding you went way over what you intended. And besides that, it can be hard to justify buying a tiny $5 bag of carrot chips while a $1 mound of potato chips is sitting right next door.

    My husband and I recently ran into that struggle. We got married this past year and soon found ourselves trying to balance 12 hour work-days with keeping our relationship strong and trying to keep our personal businesses afloat. Granted, our budget was the one thing that took a hit! After we started tracking our spending, we were shocked to see we were spending over $1000 a month just on food! A little planning cleared that right up.

    So, how to eat healthy on a budget?

    Here’re the top tips I learned that helped us shave over $600 monthly off of our food budget so we could reinvest that in the areas that really mattered to us![1]

    1. Meal Plan

    You’ve probably heard the saying “Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail” right? Well, this saying couldn’t be any more true than in the area of healthy budgeting! The fact is, most healthy foods don’t actually cost that much… the pre-made time saving ones do!

    If you go about creating a healthy meal plan within your budget, you could easily cut costs down to around the same price you are paying for junk food.

    Meal planning is as simple as working in foods you already have in your fridge/freezer, adding in several meals with simple ingredients and seasonal veggies, and breaking it down into a shopping list.

    Often, finding a few meals to make in big batches will save you the most money in the long run, which leads me to my next point.

    2. Cook in Bulk

    Not only will cooking in bulk save you a whole lot of time, it will save you a whole lot of money too! Believe it or not, if you find meals to make with similar ingredients, you can easily save more money than when you were eating unhealthy.

    Don’t believe me? Just look at a $4 frozen pasta dinner. Now, sub that with a veggie pasta dinner. 5 zuchinni ($3), Pasta sauce ($2.50), and chicken ($5) could last you a full 5 meals which adds up to a whopping total of just over $1 per meal!

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    That’s not even digging in to all the money you will save from fast-food. Trust me, a little $10 spent here and there add up! You’ll be saving a whopping amount from all the meal prep you will do!

    3. Cook all Your Meals in One Day

    The science behind this is 2-fold.

    Number one, if you have lots of meals to grab and go, you will be far less likely to binge on pricier food when you get hungry. Let’s be real, you’re not going to spend 1 hour cooking when hub-n’-grub is at your bekon-call!

    Number 2, meal prepping ahead of time will help you stick to your meal plan better when you’re not in the mood. Let’s face it, we’re all going to have days when protein and veggies doesn’t exactly sound appealing. But, if you have a full meal that’s quick to grab in the fridge, it will be easier for you to fill up on the good stuff rather than spending money on what you don’t really need.

    4. Cut Back on Snacks and Specialty Items

    I can almost hear you from across the screen. “But, I thought snacks were good for me!” Here’s the deal: Snacks are expensive! And healthy snacks, oh my goodness, say goodbye to your paycheck!

    Look, I’m definitely not saying that healthy snacks are bad. Quite frankly, I would much rather you chow down on Halo Top than a triple-butterfinger-fudge sundae. It’s just that… healthy snacks are why eating healthy gets a bad rap for being expensive.

    Look at it this way: You could either buy a week’s worth of groceries full of chicken, fish, beans, veggies, and fruits for $30. Or, you can spend that $30 on six snacks that will leave you hungry for more.

    What’s more, the ingredients for gluten-free baked goods, sugar free substitutes, or protein powders alone will add up to you eating a full week’s budget in one sitting. By all means, if you want to work some yummy items into your budget, do it! But don’t confuse that extra monthly $300 of delicacies as a necessity. Your body and budget will thank you!

    5. Satisfy Yourself with Your Favorite Subs

    We all have an emotional tie to food. Maybe pasta reminds you of home! Or maybe a fresh-baked pizza is what gives you a feeling of comfort. Whatever you favorite food, find a way to work it into your budget in the best way.

    We’re only human, and depriving ourselves of what we love will never end well. More often than not actually, it ends in take-out or a pricey-premade substitute.

    Instead of finding yourself in this situation, find a way to make your favorite foods fit your budget. Zuchinni noodle pasta might just give you that feeling of home without breaking the bank. Or maybe you could google a healthy pizza alternative you would like that you could make at home. Often, something similar to your craving will be enough to give you a sense of satisfaction.

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    Or, just buy your cheat meal and save it for a special day. That’s okay too!

    6. Stick to the Cheaper Proteins

    Okay, I know we all love steak. Unfortunately, buying pre-cooked or expensive cuts of meat are one of the easiest ways to drain a budget.

    Instead of purchasing those, try buying frozen chicken or eggs. A 5 lb bag of frozen chicken can be as cheap as $5, and you can buy a whole weeks worth of eggs for just over $1. You could even try going vegetarian for a few meals if you really want to cut down on costs!

    7. Buy Frozen Fruits and Veggies

    I know, we all love our fresh fruits and veggies! However, sometimes frozen might be the way to go if you’re looking to cut costs!

    Fruits and veggies are easiest to ship when frozen, making them a much cheaper option. Contrary to popular belief, scientists have actually found that frozen might be better for you too![2]

    The reason is, frozen produce is picked at its prime and shipped immediately. Fresh fruit tends to be picked much earlier so it will ripen while being shipped. Not only does this make it less nutrient dense, but sometimes the fruits are actually pumped with artificial flavors to make up for the lack of real nutrients.

    While I’m all for fresh fruits and veggies, don’t feel guilty if you opt for frozen foods due to a budget.

    8. Bump up the Calories with Rice and Beans

    The problem some people find when trying to eat healthy is that it can be hard to get the amount of calories you need without relying on expensive “specialty” items. Instead of stocking up on pricey gluten-free breads and pasta, I say stick to simple rice and beans as the bulk of your meals.

    Brown Rice is very cheap and easy to use as a base for bowls and dishes. Likewise, beans can add a bit of fiber making you feel full and satisfied without having to spend a lot of money.

    If you are trying to cut on body fat, use extra veggies as the bulk of your meal and add in rice and beans as a filler.

    9. Try Acai Bowls

    Acai Bowls can be a really cheap and satisfying meal as long as you do it right.

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    You can find cheap fruits at most stores or just freeze your fresh fruits before it goes bad.

    Making your own granola can save you a lot of money as well. The total cost for this delicious meal should only add up to a few dollars compared to triple that price if you were to buy one pre-made.

    10. Make Your Own Meal Kits

    Do you like your meals freshly cooked? Sending meal kits to your doorstep is an easy way to drain your budget. Instead, try making your meal kit at home! Not only is it fun, you will easily get a delicious taste.

    Simply find a few simple meal cards or print some out and fill a ziplock with the ingredients for each specific day. Don’t know what recipe to make? Another option is to order one month of meal kits and recycle the recipe into ingredients for the upcoming months with ingredients you picked up from the store.

    11. Don’t Drink Your Calories

    A few dollars spent here and there can really add up! Just as with specialty items, healthy drinks can be a blackhole for you. An energy drink and kombucha and coffee each day could easily have you spending and extra $300 each month!

    I you really need a special drink fix, try making your favorites at home. Bring a coffee in, make kombucha, or even try making lemonade with stevia or a healthy soda. You’ll be surprised w hat a big difference such a small change can make on your budget!

    12. Buy Cheap Online

    Just like anything else, it pays to be prepared. Buying foods from online retailers can be a really affordable way to save money as long as you’re prepared.

    Plan ahead for those more expensive specialty items you can’t live without. It will save you tons of money compared to having to buy food from a specialty store.

    13. Don’t Fret about the Clean Fifteen

    One of the huge things that can mess with a person’s budget is eating organic. For the record, I am 110% all for eating organic whenever you can. However, for some people, it can be hard to make organic food fit into a budget.

    Instead of scratching healthy eating for a smaller budget, try to buy meat and the dirty dozen organic, and don’t go crazy about the rest. The clean fifteen are the fifteen safest foods to buy that aren’t organic! Meanwhile, the dirty dozen is the most worthwhile avoiding. According to Produce Retailer, these are the dirty dozens:[3]

    1. Strawberries
    2. Spinach
    3. Kale
    4. Nectarines
    5. Apples
    6. Grapes
    7. Peaches
    8. Cherries
    9. Pears
    10. Tomatoes
    11. Celery
    12. Potatoes

    14. Pay Attention to Storage

    Keeping the food you have is just as important as how much food is in the first place. Try to stay on top of how much produce you can actually use before it goes bad. It might not be a bad idea to pencil an extra shopping trip in the middle of the week to keep food fresh.

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    Investing in good food storage containers could go a long way in saving you in the long run as well.

    15. Freeze Food Before it Goes Bad

    Instead of getting mad at yourself at the end of the week for all the wilted produce you need to throw out, try freezing it before you get to that point.

    Most frozen veggies will taste delicious in stir fries and soups. You can freeze fruits to make sorbet or smoothies. Frozen greens can be chopped up and tossed into just about anything for a nutrient boost!

    16. Consider Ditching Most Supplements and Powders

    I have nothing against superfood powders and supplements. However, if your budget is tight, it can be hard to fit supplements and powders in.

    Instead of adding in powders, add extra nutrients to you food. Add lots of greens and veggies to all your meals to meet your nutrient needs. If you need a specific supplement, you can find great deals online as well!

    17. Use Budget App

    There are so many great apps you can download for free. One of my current favorite is HoneyDue because you can track your budget easily with your spouse. There are many options available, just find the one that you’re most likely to use. The ones that download your spendings automatically are often the easiest and will give you a more accurate number.

    My husband and I use the same app, but have a separate budget for each of our weekly food plan and for our additional snacks. Keeping things separate can often be helpful to know exactly where your money is going. Plus, it can help hold you accountable if you have a significant other you are sharing money with.

    18. Use What you Have

    Most people have unused protein powders lying around in their cabinets. Instead of letting that go to waste, work them into your meal plan. Protein powders can make amazing doughnuts, pastries, or pancakes!

    19. Enjoy the Process!

    Finding ways to enjoy your new lifestyle will be helpful in sticking to it long term. Find fun in seeing how much you can save each month. Make a competition with someone to see who can stick to the lowest budget and create something fun to do for the winner with some of the money saved! Blast some music in the kitchen while cooking your new recipes.

    Budgeting and health doesn’t have to be a drag. Make it fun and you’ll enjoy your new lifestyle long-term!

    Featured photo credit: kevin laminto via unsplash.com

    Reference

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