When it comes to sticking to our budgets, it’s easy to go without Chinese takeout, overpriced lattes, and newly released video games. But there is one thing that all of us can’t live without: food.
The problem is, even if we make home-cooked meals using store-bought ingredients, a lot of us tend to go over our grocery budgets.
So how can you save money on groceries?
In this post, we won’t force you to deprive yourself of food. And we won’t discourage you from enjoying healthy choices. Instead, we listed a few tips to help you shop for groceries on a budget–while eating healthier meals.
Make a Grocery List and Stick to It
You don’t have to be an excellent organizer just to create a grocery list. And odds are, you’re already making one every time you do some shopping.
But it’s easy to stray away from your grocery budget. Bags of chips and premium dark chocolates tempt us to splurge and make us forget why we’re in the grocery store in the first place.
Listing your to-buys isn’t enough to stay within your budget–you’ll also have to stick to the list.
Purchase the Right Amount of Perishables
If you often buy more than what you can consume, you probably have thrown away a great amount of spoiled food by now. Not only is that a waste of perfectly edible meals–it’s also a waste of your money.
To save more, you have to factor in how much you and other household members can eat within a week.
So buy just enough fresh produce to last you seven days. Or better yet, include frozen fruits and vegetables in your grocery list. That way, you can have less perishable produce and more reason to get your daily dose of plant-based nutrients.
Make the Most of Leftovers
Speaking of perishables, another way to cut down your food waste is to make leftovers out of them.
If you have a loaf of bread that’s nearing its expiry date, cut it into cubes, put them in the oven, and grind them in a food processor to make bread crumbs. Or if you have leftover meat or veggies, boil them to make broth or soup.
Rather than paying more for convenience, why not prepare and cook food yourself? This isn’t limited to ordering takeout–it also means avoiding ready-made or ready-prepared food from the grocery store. This includes deli sandwiches, pre-minced garlic, and boxes of rice mix, among many others.
That said, you have to set aside the time to prepare and cook everything at home. It’s cheaper and healthier too.
Build a Meal Plan
Want to eat healthy, save money, and save time? Make it a habit to plan out your meals for the week.
By having a meal plan ready, you’ll have an easier time sticking to your grocery list and preventing food from going to waste. Plus, you won’t have to aimlessly shop around in the grocery store and go over your budget.
Another good tip is to build a meal plan around locally grown fruits and vegetables in season. Not only will you find better deals on produce that way, but you’ll also help boost your local economy.
Buy in Bulk
When buying non-perishable items and nonedible essentials (like diapers), it’s more cost-effective to purchase them in bulk from warehouse stores.
Manufacturers spend a lot on product packaging. Try comparing the prices of small snack portions with those of bigger ones, and see the huge cost difference for yourself.
Besides that, you might want to buy oatmeal, cereals, and other grains in bulk. And rather than getting packed pre-cut meat, buy meat in bulk, chop it up, portion the meat cuts, and place them in the freezer.
Switch to Generic
Your inner bougie might disagree, but if you want to cut down your grocery bill, you’ll have to choose generic products.
A common misconception about generic products is that they’re poorer in quality than big-name brands. But the only thing that makes the latter more expensive is their popularity.
Whether you shop for generic or name-brand products, it’s always a good idea to be a conscious consumer. In other words, check the products’ ingredients or do your research before buying.
Use Coupons and Rewards Programs
Coupons and loyalty reward points aren’t just marketing ploys to get you to spend more. Yes, you should use these with caution, especially if the discounts apply to items you normally wouldn’t buy. But you can’t deny that they give you an effective way to enjoy more savings.
Sign up for your store’s newsletters and take advantage of its rewards cards and sales. Another option is to look up the websites of your go-to brands and check for coupons.
Oxford at The Ranch Apartments in Waller, TX