No matter where you go, you’ve probably heard someone—perhaps your parents, relatives, or a random stranger—about how expensive buying groceries is. However, maybe it doesn’t have to be this way; maybe there’s a way for you to cut back and save more. The power lies within you and your own spending habits.
There are several ways you can save and budget on groceries, but it depends on you how much time and effort you’re willing to do for this. In this article, we’ve compiled a list of tips and tricks you can follow to budget your money when it’s time for your grocery run.
Estimate Your Grocery Budget
First thing’s first: you need to create your grocery budget or at least an estimation of it. Try not to go over budget, too—what you want to do is only buy just enough groceries and necessities to last you until the next payday.
If you find that food is spoiling before you have the chance to eat it, this means you’re going over budget. In this case, you must reconsider how much you’re spending on food and groceries. The appropriate amount, however, depends on different factors.
For instance, are you only shopping for yourself or for your family? After all, you don’t need to shop as much if you’re a single individual who lives alone compared to if you have a family to feed.
Stick to Your Grocery List
If you can stop yourself from impulse buying, you can save more on your grocery bills. In fact, research conducted by the University of Pennsylvania found that you can save up to 23% if you stick to the necessities. As such, we recommend that you make a grocery list of all the important and necessary things you need during your grocery run, and make sure you stick to it no matter what.
A supermarket is a magical place, and you never know what you can find on the next aisle. It’s entirely possible for you to become tempted with a new product or your favorite junk food, but your wallet and your savings will thank you if you stay true to your grocery list.
Choose Generic Brands Instead
As you probably know, generic brands don’t taste as good as name brands, but they’re definitely more affordable. If you’re not willing to eat your favorite cereal from a generic brand, try to think of a workaround that can still ensure you save money even just a little. For instance, if you’re buying cereal or food in general for a baby or toddler, they probably won’t care what kind of brand you’re feeding them.
As for other staples like salt, flour, sugar, and other kitchen products, most people won’t notice a difference in taste and quality. If you’re one of those people, you should consider getting generic brands instead to reap the benefits of a much lower price. If name brand products go on sale, though, feel free to buy those—but if you’re willing to substitute name brands with generic brands on regular days, you’ll see how much of a difference it can make on your savings.
Shop Smart and Healthy
You can significantly save more during your grocery run if you purchase more fruits and vegetables for your everyday meals and snacks. In fact, not only will you get to shave off up to 25% of your budget, but you can also shave off excess weight simultaneously.
Shop at a More Affordable Store
There’s no law that says you’re required to buy your groceries at renowned malls and supermarkets. One of the secrets to saving more is by buying produce and other food items from chain groceries, organic stores, local farmers’ markets, and other similar shops. These stores usually have sales and bargains on offer that you don’t want to miss.
Look at the different shops within your area and compare the prices and quality of the products. You might even find bulk items for sale that you can stock for a long time in your pantry.
There’s no shame in using coupons—they exist for a reason and it’s for people to save more. Besides, coupons are easy to come by. You can find them in your inbox, the mail, and in stores. In fact, even a quick Google search will show you various coupons available for all kinds of stores.
If you’re serious about saving and budgeting, many grocery stores also have apps that help you track your savings and coupons. So, don’t hesitate to download such apps so you can also be updated in case of sales and bargains. Gather all the coupons you can because multiple coupons can really help you get a major discount when shopping.
That being said, make sure the item you’re buying is actually a necessity and not just because you couldn’t say no to a good sale.
If you have the extra time, meal prepping or at least preparing the menu for the week can help you budget and determine what you need to buy and how much of it. This way, you have a good idea of the specific ingredients you need for your daily meals.
Another piece of advice is to go for recipes that don’t have ingredients that are too varied. For instance, choosing recipes that more or less have similar ingredients means you can cut back on foodstuffs you need to buy. If you want to go the extra mile, you can cook up big batches of your meal so you can reheat the leftovers for lunch or dinner. This takes a load off your back, too, as you now have less to purchase, and you don’t have to plan as much.
You don’t have to follow all these tips at once if you’re not able to—take baby steps instead. It can seem daunting, but you’ll get the hang of it eventually. Just keep in mind that if you manage your food budget well enough, this means you can better manage your finances overall.
You’ll definitely be more thankful in the long run if you start budgeting your groceries early on.