Groceries: everybody needs ’em! As one of the unwavering expenses in most of our lives, grocery spending is a common area that many people would love to cut down on. For as gratifying as it may feel to fill your basket with items that aren’t necessarily on your list in the moment, it can be equally staggering to tally up these bills at the end of each month.
Even still, you like what you like. It’s not always easy to buy the same item by a different brand if you really enjoy your go-to brand. It’s easy to rationalize an extra dollar here or there if it means that you’re not sacrificing quality. In fact, it may also be that you have sprung for an alternative option in the past only to cement further your rationale for purchasing your favourite items. You don’t really want to stop buying what you like, but you also don’t want to be spending as much as you are on groceries. So what gives?
Luckily, there are a few things that you can implement into your grocery shopping routine that will help you save money in the long run. With a few extra precautions in place, you might be able to have your cake and eat it too.
Here are some easy ways you can save on groceries without sacrificing your favourite foods
Plan meals ahead of time
If you’re planning your meals on a meal-by-meal basis, you might be unknowingly hemorrhaging a lot of money. Let’s say your recipe calls for spinach, and so you buy spinach, but it turns out that you only need about 1/4th of the package. The extra 3/4ths now has no purpose and will probably sit in your fridge until you can find one or IF you can find one.
When you plan ahead, you can build a several-day plan around buying items that can be used for several dishes. Not only does this cut back on the waste, but it ensures that you’re spending your money more efficiently. Many foods require the same base ingredients, so putting some thought into what you want to be eating for the next week or so will save you a lot in the long run.
Clean out your fridge and check stock regularly
A lot of food goes uneaten. In fact, according to Love Food Hate Waste, about 63% of the foods Canadians throw away could’ve been eaten. They estimate that for the average Canadian household, that amounts to about 140 kilograms of wasted food per year at the cost of more than $1,100.
We’ve all accidentally left something in the fridge past the point of being edible, so it’s essential to check what you might be holding onto regularly. Maybe you can plan some meals around something that is set to expire soon, or perhaps you already have all you need for dinner and don’t need to go grocery shopping at the moment. Regardless, keeping an eye on what’s in your fridge at all times will help you make more informed money decisions.
Check flyer items before going in-store
In the digital age, grocery stores have made their flyers extremely easy to find at any time, including The Sweet Potato. If you are trying to plan your meals ahead but are unsure of what you might want to eat any given week, a quick look at the flyer can help you make that decision. Say you have an excellent recipe for Parisian salad or tortilla soup, and you’re trying to decide between the two for one of your weekly meals. It just may be that lettuce is on sale that week, making the salad the more advantageous option. It’s better for you and your wallet to go grocery shopping prepared.
Shop on a full stomach
A lot of us don’t give a second thought to how hungry we are before we go grocery shopping, but shopping on a full stomach is a sure-fire way to stop spending needlessly. When you’re hungry, you are thinking about all of the different foods that you’d like to be eating right now, and it reflects in what you buy. Because of this mindset, it’s not uncommon to buy more than you actually need. It may also persuade you to buy some quick-make or on-the-go foods that you wouldn’t have sprung for otherwise. If your eyes are bigger than your stomach, eating a nice meal before going shopping will help you cut down on your expenses.
Start freezing and storing meals
Not only is freezing or your meals a great way to combat cooking fatigue, preserving your food’s shelf life will ensure that things won’t spoil before you get the chance to eat them. As we mentioned earlier, as much as 63% of food waste could have been consumed. Preserving your leftovers or cooking in bulk and freezing for a later date can do wonders for your bank account and save you a lot of energy at the same time.
Tally as you go
To get a better sense of how much you’re spending, calculate as you go. This will help you avoid a surprising total at checkout and will help you stick more faithfully to a budget. If it so happens that you are continually going over budget on what you hope to be spending, this will give you a better understanding of the value of each item you put in the cart. If you are really trying to stick to a budget, it will also let you know where you might be able to cut back.
Many of us don’t realize how much extra we’re spending that we don’t need to be and think that the only way to save is to buy off-brand or buy in bulk. While those are also great options for spending less, these suggestions make it easy to continue enjoying the groceries you usually buy. A little extra attention can help you save big. Happy shopping!