If you’re looking to stick to a budget or reduce your spending, one of the biggest ways you can save money is on your food shopping. Buying your groceries is undoubtedly the best way for you to have control over what you eat and what you spend, rather than forking out money on fast food, take-away meals or going out for lunch or dinner to a pub or restaurant.
However, grocery shopping is not without its drawbacks. There are so many temptations and it can be so confusing with all the different deals and offers as well as promotions of new products that mean most of us will return home with much more than we wanted and spend way over our designated budget.
In this article you will find seven money saving tips to keep in mind the next time you visit the grocery store.
Before You Leave Home
There are a few things you can do before you even step outside the door:
- Plan your menu for the week or the whole month, if you do your shopping monthly, and write a shopping list. You may find it easier to plan your list according to how your supermarket is laid out or by category like: fruit, vegetables, dairy, cold storage, freezer, staples, cupboard etc.
- Check your shopping list against the items you already have in your cupboards, pantry, fridge, freezer and any other food stores before you head out the door to see if you need more of an item or if you already have enough.
- When you get to the grocery store only buy what is on your list and don’t deviate. If it’s not on the list, it doesn’t go in the trolley or basket.
- Conduct research before you go out the door. Look at the grocery store’s flyers to see what is being promoted that week and look in any of your regular magazines or newspapers for coupons or vouchers. This may seem like an outdated strategy but you can save a lot of money. Coupons are also available from coupons.com, so make sure you use these to your advantage. You can actually double your savings if you’re a little coupon savvy.
- Eat something before you leave. If you are hungry before you get to the store your hunger will guide your choices and you are likely to purchase far more than you need. Try shopping after you have eaten or at the weekend when you can have something to eat before you go rather than on the way home from work before dinner.
When You Get To The Store
Grocery stores have certain tricks to entice people to spend more money. They have marketing and promotional strategies to draw your attention and millions of dollars are spent on research and advertising to make sure certain products are presented in the best possible way just to help you part with your hard earned cash. Keep this in mind as you enter the store.
It’s good to have a strategy for finding the items you need. Some people go up and down every aisle while others zig zag in various directions looking for what they want. The following tips should keep you on track:
- Try to stick to the outer aisles as a lot of promotional items can be found at the ends of aisles right in the middle of the store. Essential items are often placed around the store in different locations so shoppers are encouraged to pass through the middle aisles on their way to their essential items. This can lead to impulse buys and spending extra – remember rule number 3 from the category above. If it’s not on the list it doesn’t go in the trolley or basket.
- We often go to the store looking for a recognizable brand because we know it, like it or trust its quality. However, generic brands or the grocery store’s own make is often much cheaper than well-known branded items and the quality is just as good. You can see how similar they are by checking the list of ingredients or doing a try buy – this means buying one of the branded item and the same in a generic item and then using the generic item instead of the branded. If you like it and it’s similar to your branded item then you will save money in the future and buy the generic brand instead. If you don’t like it – no harm done and you have your branded item for next time.
- Prepared foods and ready meals are often sold at a higher price. If you bought the separate ingredients needed to make the same food it might cost a little more but you will get four to six portions from the ingredients you buy rather than just enough for one person. You may also have some ingredients like herbs and spices left over that you can use in other dishes. Prepared foods look good and can save time but if you make a batch of meals you can easily freeze the portions you won’t eat for another day giving you more for your money and peace of mind knowing exactly what has gone into your food and how it was cooked.
- The bottled water industry is a multibillion dollar business and although bottled water is a healthy choice it can also be ridiculously expensive. Tap water is just as good and a fraction of the cost. Most places have safe, drinkable tap water and you can even buy a Brita Filter if you wish to remove any potential contaminants.
- When grocery stores are promoting products and items are reduced or on sale they often sell out of these items very quickly. You may be disappointed and just go ahead and buy a higher priced item instead. However, not many people know that they can ask for a rain check and this allows you to come back at a later date when the item is back in stock and buy the item for the sale price instead of the full price.
There are many opportunities for you to save money on your food shopping without skimping on quality and taste. By making food from scratch, checking for coupons and being well prepared you can be in complete control of your shopping budget.
It’s worth shopping around too for deals and although sometimes it’s a hassle going to different stores, the savings can be incredible not to mention reduction in food miles – the distance your food has had to travel to reach the grocery store and the impact of this on the environment. Shopping at local stores for fruit, vegetables, meat and other produce can save you dollars and help the environment too.