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.
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.
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!
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.
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
- 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.
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