With many people experiencing new financial constraints due to the coronavirus outbreak, now is an ideal time to consider how we can reduce our daily and weekly expenses. The money we spend on grocery shopping can add up fast – but it doesn’t have to. In fact, making just a few small changes in how we approach the supermarket strategy can have a bigger-than-bite-sized impact on our wallet.
Plan, Plan, Plan
The best way to save on groceries starts well before you ever enter the supermarket – and that’s planning your meals and snacks for the week. Making a structured meal plan helps you define exactly what you’ll need from this shopping trip, and what you can do without. Not sure where to start? Download a smartphone app like GroceryPal or Grocery iQ for an all-in-one place to store your list and coupons, and support you to plan meals ahead of your shop.
Set a Shopping Day
With a plan in hand, it’s much easier to commit to only visiting the grocery store one time per week. A once-weekly shop has the double benefit of saving you time and limiting your ability to make impulse buys, which can really add up if you’re hitting the supermarket multiple times per week. While it might seem impossible to limit your grocery shopping to just one day per week, it’s really not too tricky – as long as you have a great meal and snack plan made in advance and you stick to it.
Don’t Shop Hungry
There’s a good reason you’ve heard this statement so many times before! Shopping on an empty stomach makes you more susceptible to purchasing groceries you don’t really need, including less healthy items that pack less of a nutritional punch – making them a less wise financial decision, too. Aim to eat a healthy meal an hour or two before you hit the supermarket and bring along a bottle of water while you’re shopping, to ensure your brain and body are fully powered to stay on track with your money-saving grocery goals.
Use Coupons (Wisely!)
Coupons are a double edged sword. They can get you some great deals, but at the same time, seeing an unbelievable discount can also trick you into purchasing an item you don’t really need simply because it’s on sale. The key to shopping with coupons is to make your shopping list first, then check for any special deals that match up. On the other hand, you might also peruse the coupon pages for a great deal and then base your weekly meal plan around what you find – just be careful that you’re not spending hard-earned money on groceries you won’t actually use.
Raid Your Pantry
Before you head out to the grocery store, always check what’s already in your shelves! Oftentimes we forget about the foods that have been lingering around our cabinets for some time, missing out on the opportunity to make use of these ingredients and save more money at the store. Take a good look at what you’ve already got at home and see if there are any creative ways to use things up – the last bits of peanut butter can become a peanut sauce for noodles, leftover mashed potatoes can be turned into gnocchi. When you eat down the pantry, you save money on groceries.
Buy Staples in Bulk
Bulk buying is similar to using coupons, in that it’s a great money-saving strategy when done right. Don’t buy 20 gallons of milk if you’ve only got space in the refrigerator for one, but do consider long-lasting staples like rice, pasta and beans. These items can be significantly cheaper when purchased in bulk and because they won’t go bad, you can make one big purchase and lower your grocery bill for weeks and weeks afterwards.
Consider Where You Shop
Lots of factors go into deciding where you shop; and if budgeting is a big focus, there are even more elements to consider. The closest grocery store might not have the cheapest items, but then again, gas money can add up and your time is important too. Compare shops around you in terms of where the sales are and keep note of which stores have consistently low prices on which essential items. If you’re able to hit multiple stores in one shopping trip, this can help to save money on groceries.
Get Creative About Meal Planning
Changing the way you shop for groceries can also mean changing the way you eat. If you’re looking to save money on the grocery bill, consider lower-cost meals that are still equally nutritious, and delicious. Online resources like Tin Can Cook and Eat Cheap and Healthy on Reddit have tons of simple recipe ideas built around inexpensive ingredients – think canned beans, fresh greens and cheap spices – so you can spend less money on grocery shopping while getting lots more nutritional bang for your buck.