No matter how hard we’d like to save money and keep our lives as frugal as possible, we do need to eat. And our food costs can really soar, depending on our choices of foods, if we cook at home, how expensive the restaurant we are eating in is etc. While we can’t live without a proper nutrition, we can surely apply few tricks to make sure we’re not spending more than it’s OK on food. Here are some ideas that will cut your food bills dramatically. Please feel free to share your own ideas:
1. Go to buy groceries when you need to
I know it sounds a little silly and you’ll probably ask me “what’s that when you need to thing supposed to mean?”. While it doesn’t probably make sense, let’s try remember when do we usually shop for groceries? Do we just go to the store on a whim and buy something cause we like how the product looks like? Do we make a plan for this? Maybe schedule a day in the week to get the ‘bulk’ of the food? My family usually has a day in the week, when we buy most of the stuff to eat, but it’s not uncommon for us to ‘happen’ in the groceries store and purchase something on a whim. The problem is that, when we get back home, we realize we have more of that certain product (and it’s easier to waste food this way).
So, wondering into the store just cause it’s there, is not always a good idea. Don’t buy food just cause you have the money in your pocket, buy it because YOU NEED IT. Schedule time to purchase the food. When you’re in a rush from work, tired and pretty badly disposed it might not be too smart to go buy the groceries. But, when you have some time off, you can prepare for this, schedule that time and not be in a rush. Being angry and hurried won’t get you to make good decisions.
2. The holy list.
I am not kidding, the LIST is very important. I am usually such a ‘dizzy head’ that, if I don’t have a list, there’s a 100% chance I’ll forget to buy something that I really needed to buy. The list helps me remember what’s needed in my family. Not to mention that there are less chances for me to buy 4 more kilos of apples (when we’re already having 5 more rotting in the pantry) just cause I felt they look nice. Try to stick to the list and purchase the needed items. If you’re good with prices, you can actually budget your groceries buying and compare prices.
3. Don’t shop when you’re hungry
‘Elementary, dear Watson’, when you’re hungry, you’ll think with your stomach, not your head. Instead of having my list and purchase what’s needed for our meals, I’ll go purchase all kinds of extra food that I’d eat right then (even if I don’t have an empty fridge anyway) if I could. Most of the food that’s packed in small quantities (sliced etc) is usually more expensive, but I don’t care about this then, I’m HUNGRY.
4. Don’t purchase rotten food
I know people who’d buy any garbage, just cause it’s discounted. Not purchasing fresh meat can send you to the hospital in no time and medical bills are usually pretty high. Always read the labels carefully and see if the food is not expired. While some food is still OK 2-3 days after it’s ideal shelf life expired, don’t take your chances too often. You can play the ‘expiration game’ if you know you’ll eat that product before it expires, but, if you’re not sure about this and it can cause issues once it’s expired, pay the extra buck and don’t mess with your health.
5. Do you have a coupon? Is it a sale? You don’t have to go buy the food
Many people feel ‘obligated’ to shop when the store has a sale or there’s a coupon for it and really feel bad if they ‘miss’ the opportunity. Guess what, the stores are banking on your ‘guilt’. Don’t worry, there will be more sales and coupons. If you really don’t need to go purchase groceries, STAY AT HOME and you’ll actually save all the money.
6. Buy as much as you and your family needs, but not more.
We’re throwing A LOT OF FOOD. I won’t go into details about how in other parts of the world people are starving to death and we’re throwing away perfectly edible food, but we should have more respect for this resource and maybe for our money if we don’t care about anything else. Don’t stock on food and let it to rot. If you do stock, make sure the food will last (such as sugar, cooking oil, potatoes, which can last for a while). Use the fridge to keep your meat safe from going bad and purchase the fresh produce in small quantities, as much as you need to eat for few days, before it goes to waste.
7. Cut your own fruits and vegetables
Do you know that a small box of parsley or dill can go up to 3 bucks? You can get a way better deal when purchasing the parsley with its root and a thick bunch of parsley. Same for fruits or all kinds of veggies. Anything that means cutting and pre-packaging will cost you more, why pay for the same thing? Just purchase apples and cut them, get a thick bunch of spice leaves and use them for your meals. You can even put some in the freezer and have to cook with in the future, if you need.
8. Avoid the store tricks
Most stores will put the most expensive merchandise at eye level. Look down for a change and you might get a better deal. Make sure you don’t go purchase stuff from the checkout (that’s impulse buying and not really smart) and are considering some non-brand food too. I usually have some brands I can’t consider giving up on, but some products that were cheaper and from a less known brand were way better and healthier.
What else do you think we can add here? What are your own grocery saving money tips?