Practical Ways to Save Money on Groceries (Part 1)
Do you feel your hands are all tied up when you see the price of milk or gas these days? Though it feels good to look back with nostalgia for the good old days when everything is dirt cheap, there is just no escaping the fact that prices are always advancing.
That is a part of the rhythm of modern life but we don’t have to just keep our eyes closed, cross our finger and hope that we can make ends meet until the next pay check. Don't let yourself be billowed by every inflationary breeze that comes wafting your way. Here are practical ways to get more food and spend less cash:
- Track your expenses. Saving money is hard if you don’t know how much you’re spending on which item. It is essential to food budgeting to have a list so you can track down how much you need each week or month, set the budget, and create goals to achieve.
- Grow your own. Make a garden. Even if you don’t have one, use your kitchen window sill or the vertical face of your apartment wall. If you already have one, make it bigger the next month. It will lead to healthier eating habits and you’ll have to do away with guilt about wasting too much money on your local grocer.
- Learn to cook. Start from simple recipes that would take a few minutes even if you have a gazillion other chores around the house or rushing every day to work. It doesn’t have to mean giving up restaurant meals or ordering pizza but when you prepare your own meals, you can slash off huge amount on your food budget.
- Keep a running grocery list. When you run out of anything, add it to the list. The more well-stocked your larder is, the better you’ll eat, and the less you’ll spend. Always bring it when you shop and stick to it.
- Use discount grocery stores. You will save a small fortune if you do your shopping in those stores that buy surplus from bigger chains.
- Buy in bulk. For staple items, it would be cheaper to buy it more. But even if the items have short shelf life, that only means you have to work your weekly food menu on those perishable items so it won’t end up rotting in the fridge.
- Cook up large batches. Do this for your favourite dishes or comfort food. Store them up as single meal portions in the fridge, freezer, or pantry. You don’t only save hundreds of dollars but also earn yourself some free time in the kitchen.
- Be creative with leftovers. With a little stock and some seasonings, your casserole or roast can become a stew for the next day. Stretch a large piece of meat by incorporating it into several different dishes. This way, you avoid boring or monotonous meals but still save money in the process.
- Save everything. From bacon grease to chicken carcass and hambones – these can be lifesavers for a tasty, satisfying yet cheap food on your table. If you don’t have time to attend to these stuff after dinner, put them in a bag in the freezer and get back to it afterwards.
- Never succumb to impulse buying. You have to really ask yourself whether you actually need it or not and if it is worth spending your hard-earned grocery fund with. Otherwise, learn to let go.
- Schedule your grocery visits. The more often you go shopping, the more you are likely to spend. Try to make your shopping trip no more than once per week. If that works, try for every two weeks, even every month. This tends to focus you more on buying larger quantities more carefully.
- Compare costs. Track prices of your must-have products at your local grocery store, then keep a best-price cheat sheet in your wallet. Next time you’re stocking up, you won’t have to wonder if you’re getting a good buy. Know the cost per unit (CPU) before you buy in bulk.
- Avoid processed food. Stick with basic commodities so you won’t have to subject your bodies into chemicals, preservatives, and toxins. Plus, you won’t have to pay more for that brand name or trademark.
- Do your own prep. Precut or sliced items cost more. So scrutinize your schedule so you can devote time for food preparation and have it ready to go when you’re rushing for dinner.
- Get a store card. Loyalty cards allow allow shoppers to get extra discounts on items without having to clip coupons. If a store you frequent, even infrequently, offers a card, you should get one.