Grocery shopping on a budget is certainly a concern we face when looking to save money on food. Perhaps you’re struggling to find a job. Or, maybe you’re trying to save for a house or think you spend too much on your weekly shopping. Luckily, food shopping on a budget is possible and can be healthy too! This guide will introduce a few ways to cut costs to ensure you are still eating healthy, even on a budget.
How To Grocery Shop On A Budget
The first thing you can do to save money shopping for groceries is to create a budget. Indeed, you’ll save money grocery shopping when you create a food plan. The plan is what you’ll eat every breakfast, lunch, and dinner throughout the week.
When you go food shopping without a plan, you will likely pick up things that won’t get used. Or worse, thrown away. For this to work, it’s important to have everything you need to create meals for the week in advance.
A food plan will reduce the costs while reducing the amount of food going to waste. Once you’ve started, planning your meals will feel like second nature. And you won’t have to worry about deciding what you are cooking throughout the week!
Use Your Grocers’ Loyalty Program
Use your grocer’s loyalty program to unlock a treasure trove of savings and benefits that go beyond mere discounts. These programs often offer exclusive deals, points towards future purchases, special coupons, and early access to sales tailored specifically to your shopping habits. By signing up and consistently using your loyalty card or app, you can maximize your savings on groceries, making every dollar stretch further. This smart shopping strategy helps manage your budget more effectively and enhances your overall shopping experience by rewarding your loyalty with tangible benefits.
Some examples of U.S. grocers with loyalty programs include Kroger’s Plus Card, offering discounts and fuel points; Safeway’s Just for U, providing personalized deals and digital coupons; Target’s Circle, offering cashback and exclusive discounts; Walmart’s Savings Catcher within its app for price matching; and Whole Foods Market’s Prime membership, which gives Amazon Prime members extra discounts and deals. Each program is designed to reward customers for their loyalty with savings on groceries, exclusive offers, and other perks.
Know Your Prices and Shop Where Prices Are Lower
Being savvy about grocery prices involves knowing the typical cost of items you frequently buy and comparing those prices across different stores. But don’t shop at too many stores, as managing each store’s weekly offerings could become a chore.
That said, when you know where to shop and where prices are lower, it can lead to significant savings. Stores may have varying pricing strategies for different items, so diversifying your shopping destinations based on who offers the best deals for what you need is a smart approach. Regularly reviewing store flyers and online price comparisons and utilizing price-matching policies can also help ensure you get the best value for your money.
Buy What You’ll Use in Bulk
Buying in bulk can be a smart way to save money, provided you focus on items you regularly use and have a long shelf life. This strategy reduces the cost per unit and minimizes the frequency of shopping trips. However, it’s important to have adequate storage and to avoid purchasing perishable items in bulk unless you’re certain they’ll be consumed before spoiling. Bulk buying is especially cost-effective for non-perishable goods such as rice, pasta, canned goods, and toiletries.
Buy Seasonal And Preserving It Saves Money
Opting for seasonal produce cuts costs due to lower prices from peak harvest abundance and ensures you’re enjoying foods at their best taste and nutritional value. Beyond just buying seasonally, preserving these foods through canning, freezing, or dehydrating allows you to savor summer berries, autumn squashes, or spring greens year-round. This approach not only stretches your budget but also elevates your meals with the taste of fresh produce off-season, such as making strawberry jam or freezing corn for winter use.
Watch The Unit Price, Not the Item’s Price
Focusing on the unit price rather than the sticker price of an item is a strategy I love to use for cost-effective grocery shopping. This approach involves comparing prices based on standard units of measurement, like per ounce, gram, or kilogram, across different brands and package sizes. It reveals the true cost and helps identify which options offer the best value for money. I find this method is particularly useful in navigating bulk deals, sales, and different packaging sizes, ensuring that you make informed decisions that stretch your dollar further without being misled by seemingly lower prices of larger, more expensive packages.
Limit Buying Expensive Convenience Foods
Convenience foods are exactly that – convenient. However, convenience foods cost much more than buying raw/less processed goods. Try and limit the purchase of expensive convenience foods, such as pre-cut fruits, ready-made meals, or instant products – all of this can be prepared in advance and will go a long way in reduing your grocery bill.
The same goes for signle-serve packages. Buy larger quantities and reduce the portions at home, storing them in the fridge or freezer for later use.
Don’t Go Food Shopping Hungry
This one doesn’t require much effort at all! To save money, don’t go food shopping when you’re hungry. Regardless of your budget, shopping with a detailed grocery list, ensures you don’t go off track if you are hungry. You are unlikely to reach for cheaper and healthier options if you are craving food, which could impact your health and wallet! Aim to go food shopping just after eating to help you stay on track and save money for other things.
Use What You Have In The Cupboards
A great way to save money on weekly food shopping is to check what you already have in the cupboards. It’s surprising how easy it is to create meals using leftover ingredients that you didn’t think you’d be able to use. For example, you might have some stale bread and old mushrooms in the fridge. You could blend the bread with some oil and seasoning to make great breadcrumbs for a delicious baked mushroom dish.
Or, you might have some broccoli leftover that won’t get used. Add the broccoli and combine some of your homemade breadcrumbs with seasoning, a potato or two. And be sure to add some cheddar cheese for lovely (and healthy) broccoli tots. All it takes is a bit of creativity, and you can make delicious recipes without buying anything new. Indeed, a casserole is a great way to stretch the food budget occasionally.
Reduce The Amount Of Individual Products You Buy
When you go grocery shopping, you can stick to your budget and save money by reducing the number of individual products you buy. Now, this can mean a few different things. Firstly, purchase items in bulk or packs of multiples because they are usually cheaper than the individual or small packets. Rather than buying four individual tins of baked beans for $1.50, purchase a pack of four cans for $5, saving you a buck. While it may not sound like a lot, imagine if you saved that dollar on every item while grocery shopping and invested it.
Also, look for products that offer multiple things in one product rather than shopping separately. For example, consider buying a multivitamin rather than five different individual vitamins. Or, buy mixed frozen summer berries instead of fresh strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries. And, get all-in-one washing tablets rather than detergent and softener separately. Spend some time looking at what the shop offers, and you’ll be able to cut unnecessary easily.
Consider No Name Products
While it may be tempting to shop for branded foods, you won’t save much money doing so. Supermarket brand (no name) products offer fantastic quality and are usually much cheaper than the branded version. There have been plenty of blind taste tests involving supermarkets like Aldi. For example, people get asked to taste two products. The results show that people love the supermarkets’ brand.
Don’t be afraid to give it a try. Store brand products are almost always half the price of the branded version. Indeed, it’s an easy way to cut your food costs in half immediately, making your grocery shopping on a budget easy! You won’t have to compromise on quality while you are also saving money that you can use to pay down debt!
Healthy Options Don’t Have To Be Costly
When you look at your receipt after grocery shopping, the budget-killing items will likely be meat. You don’t need to cut meat out altogether, but aiming to eat 3 to 4 healthy, vegetarian evening meals a week will reduce your shop’s cost. In the UK at Asda, two chicken breasts will set you back $4.75, while a large packet of meat-free chicken-style bites costs just $1.75. Not only will you save money, but cutting back will ensure you are doing your bit for the environment.
Head To The Reduced Section
The best way to enjoy the foods you love at a discounted price is to head to the supermarket’s reduced section. You will find fantastic deals on delicious and more ‘luxury’ foods still in excellent condition. The packaging usually recommends eating the product on the same day it’s bought. Or, perhaps the day after. But don’t forget, you can freeze them the day you buy them.
Cook in Bulk and Freeze Leftovers
As discussed previously, grocery shopping in bulk is usually a cheaper, budget-friendly option. If you’re buying ingredients for chili, for example, consider buying in bulk. A large pack of ground beef and sauce will cost less per meal than buying smaller portions. You can then buy freezable tubs, fill them with your meals, and label them with the contents and date before freezing.
As a millennial, your life is probably busy. So it’s essential to have meals stacked away in the freezer, ready for days when you are short of time. As you continue to cook in bulk, week after week, you’ll build up various meals. This way, you aren’t stuck with the same meal every time. Just one tip, make sure you have plenty of freezer space before you start bulk cooking!
Opt for Frozen Fruit and Vegetables
Another fantastic way to get better value is buying frozen fruit and vegetables. You can buy frozen mango and berries for smoothies or crumbles. Or frozen butternut squash and peppers for a delicious soup. And don’t forget lovely garden peas to go in pasta dishes, salads, or pies. The best part is that aside from saving money for grocery shopping, less food will go to waste.
Grocery Shopping on a Budget FAQ
How does the grocery savings work at Sam’s club?
Sam’s Club is a grocery store that sells items in bulk, direct to the consumer. Consumers save by buying multiples of the same item.
How does the grocery savings work in Canada?
Canadians can save money on groceries by meal planning and only buy what they need. If the consumer has a larger family, a store that sells in bulk, such as Costco, maybe a better choice to save money.
How does the grocery savings work?
The best way for consumers to save money on groceries is to start by planning meals one week in advance. Consumers can then buy the ingredients for the week, cook their meals, perhaps on a weekend, and consume the food in the coming days.
Final Thoughts On Saving Money At The Grocery Store
So, there you have it! Saving money grocery shopping is possible and can be healthy! Also, it offers an ideal lesson in millennial financial literacy that doesn’t have to be boring. These tips will help you think differently about how you shop while enjoying the food you love. Then, you can invest the money you have saved in fantastic ways, no doubt!
This article originally appeared here and was republished with permission.