It’s easy to get carried away while you’re grocery shopping. Whether you’re thinking of things to snack on in the late night, delicious recipes you want to try, or even strategically placed products near checkout, it can definitely be a struggle going to the store without buying more than what you actually need.
However this does not mean you have a pass to buy whatever comes your way! Food costs money and spending more than what you should is going to develop bad money habits that could harm your overall financial health later down the road. It’s always a good time to reevaluate your spending habits and learn how to save money on groceries. It is recommended to spend 10-15% of your income on food. This includes groceries and eating out. Though this number might seem daunting. It’s completely reasonable! Here are 5 ways to go grocery shopping on a budget.
Make a List
What seems like an obvious thing to do, but is overlooked by many people is making a grocery list. Not only does this save a lot of money, it saves time spent in the store, helps reduce food waste, and encourages you to plan out weekly meals for additional savings. Having a list also helps you not make impulse purchases. Impulse purchases, like a bag of chips or a soda at the checkout, can become a bad habit over time. If you go to the store when you’re hungry you might even end up buying snacks you won’t want once your hunger passes.
Walking into the store with a grocery list makes you feel more prepared and in control of your spending. It’s pretty easy to resist the temptation of getting extra treats or snacks if they aren’t on your list.
Bag Your Own Groceries
There have been many times where I got a change of heart while checking out items at the register. Rather than dealing with the embarrassment of asking the cashier to cancel an item and putting it away, I usually bite my lip and follow through with the purchase. This results in guilt as I am spending money on items I don’t even want anymore.
On the flip side, bagging your own groceries gives you a chance to reconsider all the purchases you are making without having to deal with the possible embarrassment of asking the cashier to cancel an item. It also gives you a final run-down of all your purchases to ensure you didn’t forget anything, and lets you bag your goods exactly how you want.
Also, grocery stores that have self-checkout options usually have the best prices as their savings on staff are typically reflected on your receipt.
Eat Before Shopping to Avoid Impulse and Unhealthy Purchases
It’s happened to all of us. Going to the store with a list of things you need to buy, but walking out with a bag of chips or a candy bar. Shopping hungry is one of the biggest culprits for overspending at the grocery store. And unlike shopping for snacks at the gas station or from a vending machine, grocery stores tend to only carry multi-serving packages. This means instead of spending only a dollar or two for a bag of chips, you might be spending upwards of four to five dollars for a bigger bag. Not only does this cause you to spend more money, you’re making a commitment to eating larger servings of unhealthy foods.
It wasn’t included in your shopping list, in your budget, or on your meal plan. Put a stop to this bad habit by eating before the grocery store and it will be a lot easier to stick to your original plan.
Become Best Friends With Your Freezer
Though it’s usually recommended to buy fresh produce and meat, there are certain times when it makes more sense to buy frozen. Frozen foods are much cheaper and can be stored for longer periods of time. This allows you to recycle recipes throughout the course of several months without having to commit to making a single dish over and over again until you use all its ingredients. Another reason to buy frozen food is because of seasonality. For example, there may be an abundance of fresh corn in the summer, but it might be a good idea to get frozen corn come winter time.
Buying meats and freezing them is also an effective and convenient way to save money. It’s much cheaper to afford meat when you do this, and extends the shelf life considerably! If you plan on making chicken, I would recommend buying the whole chicken since it’s much cheaper than one that’s cut. Aside from cutting it yourself and using the meat, you also have the option of making a scrumptious chicken broth from the carcass. This is a great way to make use of the entire animal and save even more money!
You can save even more money and time by making freezer meals. There are tons of recipes online suited for any kind of cuisine you prefer. You can set aside a time once every few days to make several freezer meals to save for later. Not only will you be saving money, you’ll also be saving time and putting your health first!
Shop From Bulk Bin Items
Bulk bins allow you to purchase unpackaged, dried foods to your desired amount. They come in handy if you know exactly how much you need to purchase of a particular item. They also let you budget better as you know exactly how much something costs! On a recent shopping trip, jasmine rice from the bulk bins was almost half the cost of prepackaged rice while a bottle of Italian seasoning was nearly 4 times the price of the bulk prices! As you can see, putting in the extra effort to get ingredients from the bulk bins certainly pays off. Effective use of bulk bins also reduces the amount of plastic and food waste you are consuming.