Yes, it is possible to slash a big hold in your grocery budget and still eat very well. Check out these simple strategies for eating well at the lowest possible cost.
You Don’t Need to be Rich
When I was a student, I found a great way to get all the fruit and vegetables I could eat absolutely free!
Ramen noodles are OK now and again. But when you are living on a student-budget that consists mostly of Ramen noodles and bread, the novelty wears off after a while. Thankfully, I found a solution.
On my way home from college in the evenings, I walked through the local farmer’s market just as they were packing up for the day. I noticed that many of the traders were placing what seemed to be perfectly good food out in the street in front of their stall. A short time later, a garbage truck came along and cleared all of this food away.
I asked one of the traders why all this food was being thrown away. She explained that they were getting rid of food that hadn’t sold that day, and which wouldn’t be fresh enough to sell the next day.
That got me thinking. ‘But all of this food is fine if it is eaten today, right?’ I asked. The trader assured me it was fine…it just hadn’t sold. So the next evening when I was passing through, I looked carefully to see was being thrown away. I asked the traders if it was OK for me to take an item or two from these ‘garbage’ boxes. They mostly shrugged their shoulders and said ‘take what you want.’
That night, my room-mate and I had the best dinner we had eaten all semester. We had an amazing selection of vegetables, plus an awesome fruit salad for dessert. For the rest of that year, we dined exceptionally well for free – all thanks to the Farmers’ Market leftovers.
Eat Cheaply and Healthily
That solution worked great for me as a student, but it’s not exactly the way I want to run my family budget. Nevertheless, there are many things you can do to save money on groceries, get the best value from what you buy, and stay healthy while you are doing it.
With a little care and forethought, we can all make our household budget go a little further. So here are ten simple strategies you can employ to make your food budget go further.
Shop at the Cheapest Supermarket
Routine can be expensive. It’s only natural that we should tend to shop at the nearest and most convenient supermarket. After a while, it becomes a habit and we shop in the same place every week without a second thought.
But if you are prepared to travel just a little bit further, you may find that another supermarket offers much better prices. It is well worth spending a little extra on gas if you find a place where shopping is significantly cheaper overall. So ring the changes – check out all your local supermarkets, and get to know who has the best prices. Over a year, you could save hundreds of dollars this way.
Grocery Store Flyers
Pop into the store, be sure to grab the latest special offers flyer and take it home with you. Then prepare your week’s meals in advance, taking advantage of the best deals on offer. The specials change every week, so you don’t have to worry about getting bored.
If you see an item that’s being offered at a really low price, but you don’t know what to do with it, then Google and Pinterest are your friends. Do a search for recipes that include this item and see what comes up – you can discover amazing new meals this way.
Always Take a List
Supermarkets give us big shopping carts because they want us to fill them up! It’s so easy to end up buying all kinds of things that you don’t really need – and that can get expensive.
So be sure to take a shopping list with you when you hit the supermarket. Buy only the items on the list and then head for the checkout.
Never Shop When Hungry
Supermarkets have plenty more tricks up their sleeves, including baking bread and roasting chickens to make you even hungrier, so that you pile more and more food into your cart. Avoid this temptation by going shopping immediately after eating a meal. You will find it so much easier to resist all those expensive indulgences.
Buy More Known-Value Items
‘Known-Value Items’ (KVIs) is supermarket speak for items that we buy regularly, so we know what a fair price is for that particular product. Because of this, supermarkets price these items very competitively, so that we are more likely to buy. KVIs include bread, milk, cheese, etc.
The other side of this coin is that you should be wary of items that you buy less often. The supermarkets make up their margins by pricing these items higher, so you may be paying over the odds.
Buy Produce in Season
It’s wonderful to be able to buy strawberries and grapes all year round, but this availability comes at a price. Produce that is offered out of season locally has probably been imported, or grown in unnatural conditions, pushing the price up.
When you buy local produce that is in season, you not only get lower prices, you get healthier food, too. And there is something special about that moment when this season’s local strawberries arrive in the store…hmmm…delicious!
Avoid Impulse Buys
You’re standing there at the checkout, waiting your turn, and all those candy bars are just yelling at you…’Eat me! Eat me!’
Giving in to this temptation not only ruins your figure, it hurts your budget, too. Because you are buying on impulse, you are not doing price comparisons or thinking your purchase through. You just pick up a candy bar, a magazine and a bottle of Coke and drop them all in your cart, right?
Remember…if these items are not on your grocery list, you shouldn’t be buying them.
Eat More Fruit and Vegetables
We all know that eating more fruit and vegetables is good for our health. But we often forget that it is good for our budget, too. Meat is not only expensive, it has a limited shelf life, so you often end up throwing unused meat away.
If you reduce the percentage of meat in your diet, and increase the percentage of fruit and vegetables, you will be better off in many ways. You will be eating more healthily, and saving money, too.
Check Out the ‘Reduced’ Rack
Here is the one exception to ‘only buy what’s on your list’ rule. It’s a good idea to check out the ‘reduced’ rack to see what bargains are available. This works best towards the end of the day, when the store just wants to clear out produce that can’t be sold the next day.
However, you shouldn’t buy things just because they are reduced. Only buy them if you can see a real use for them, and if the reduced price really is a bargain.
Cook in Batches
It’s almost as easy and as cheap to cook a large batch of food as a smaller one. So cook larger amounts of food, then store all the leftovers to make meals for another day. Make sure they are packed carefully so that they will last a while in the fridge.
Here’s an important tip – be sure to label all of these pots with both the date and the contents. Otherwise, it is easy to forget what you made, and when you made it, so you end up throwing everything away.
Cut Your Grocery Budget
These are all tips that anyone can employ to save money on the weekly shopping. Which just goes to prove you don’t have to live on Ramen noodles if you are on a tight budget – there are many things you can do to stretch your budget.