Hello, my dear readers! Food is usually one of the largest expenses that we have in our budget. Here are some easy hacks you can use to save money on groceries. Let’s begin!
1. Make a grocery list and stick to it
It helps your wallet to plan ahead. If you arrive at the grocery store knowing what to buy, you will be less likely to spend money on things you don’t need. Of course, if you love discovering a few interesting items while browsing the aisles, you can certainly leave room on your list one or two discretionary items. After all, we all deserve some little luxuries in life, don’t we?
2. Shop when you are full
Have you noticed that everything in the grocery store looks so much more enticing when you are hungry? If you go to the store hungry, you will be more likely to purchase more food than you need.
Therefore, do your grocery shopping after you have a full meal. You will be able to stick to your list of grocery items to buy a lot more easily, and therefore save money on groceries.
3. Return bottles and cans for deposits you paid
This may be an overlooked trick on how to save money on groceries. If you look closely at your receipts, you may oftentimes notice that the stores charge you $1 or $2 on certain bottles and cans as deposits. Typical items with deposits include milk, alcohol, certain juices, etc. As long as you clean the containers and return them to the store, the store will give you the money back. Although it is not a large sum of money, it can add up over time.
4. Only buy products that you will use
Do you still have an almost full jar of that fancy Thai fish sauce tucked at the back of the fridge that will expire in two days (or maybe it already has expired)? The lesson here is that we should only buy groceries that we use. This includes items that are on sale. After all, if you purchase items on sale only to throw most of them away, not only are you not saving money on groceries, you are also creating food waste.
5. Bring your own bags
Bringing your own bags to the store instead of purchasing the plastic bags helps both your wallet and the environment. Most stores now charge at least $0.05 per plastic bag. That is the amount of money you do not need to spend and can save on groceries.
Get yourself a few durable grocery bags, and you will no longer need to purchase those flimsy plastic bags that may hurt your hands and the environment.
6. Cook more at home
This tip should be a no-brainer for all of us who are looking to save money on groceries. There is so much added cost to food when you order take-out from the grocery store. An $8-9 wrap can easily be made at home using the freshest ingredients at a fraction of the price. In addition to saving money on food, you also get to enjoy the benefit of controlling what ingredients are added to your food.
Of course, I am not saying that you should eliminate ordering takeout altogether, but do it only sparingly.
If cooking at home sounds like a daunting task to you, you may want to start with my super simple homemade scones recipe. I promise you that you will have some delicious scones with basic ingredients in no time.
7. Batch cooking
Batch cooking isn’t just a great way to manage time, it is also an easy hack to help you save money on groceries. Purchase whatever protein or root vegetables that are on sale, and roast them in a sheet pan with your desired spices. For under an hour from start to finish, you can have several nutritious meals ready to go for the rest of the week. No more excuses to purchase ready-made food just for the sake of convenience.
8. Buy private brand named food
More and more grocery chains are now selling some of the most common and popular food items under their own private brands. Ketchup, mustard, juice, chips and so many more can now be found under private brands. They typically sell at lower prices than brand-named food items, and they taste the same (at least to me).
Therefore, if you want to save money on groceries, opt for store-named items. Your wallet will love you for it and your taste buds most likely won’t complain, either.
9. Buy in-season produce
The prices of fresh produce can vary wildly depending on the production level. After all, fresh produce only has a limited shelf life. As money-conscious consumers, we should all take advantage of that, and choose our meals based on what is in reason. At my local grocery store, strawberries can sell as low as $2.99 per pound when they are in reason. When they are not, the price skyrockets to $6.99 per pound.
If you love a certain fruit so much all year round, you may consider purchasing it in bulk when it is in reason, each as much fresh as you can, and preserve the rest to enjoy (as jam, for example) for the rest of the year.
10. Plan your meals based on what is on discount
Grocery stores almost always have something on discount in a given week. What is even better is that the food items on discount almost always change weekly. Therefore, why not plan your meals based on what is on discount? You will still get to enjoy a variety of food, all at a lower cost than if you purchase the same food items when they are all at regular price.
Nowadays, grocery stores typically have their flyers for preview. Download an app like Flipp on your phone, and you will know in advance what items are going to be on sale.
11. Buy in bulk
If there is anything you consume on a regular basis, then, by all means, buy in bulk! There is usually a negative correlation between price and quantity: the larger the quantity you purchase, the cheaper the per-unit price. Of course, you must make sure that you can finish all the ingredients you buy; otherwise, you may end up spending more overall.
12. Stock up on pantry items when they are on sale
This trick is closely related to the previous one. Pantry items like peanut butter and pasta typically have a long shelf life, which makes them items ideal to stock up on. Next time when they are on sale, remember to purchase a little bit more extra.
13. Buy from farmers’ market when you can
I love visiting the farmers’ market. The hustle and bustle and the liveliness of the market always bring a smile to my face. The market also brings a smile to my wallet’s face, because some of the freshest produce in the market also happens to be very reasonably priced. Who wouldn’t want to spend less for fresher products than the ones you can find at a grocery store?
Of course, I understand that not everybody has easy access to a farmers’ market nearby, but if you do, make sure you take advantage of it. You may even be able to make a day trip out of visiting a nearby farmers’ market.
14. Incorporate meatless meals into your meal plan
Meat is usually the most expensive ingredient on your plate. By incorporate meatless meals into your meal plan, you automatically reduce the cost of your food. Too much meat can also be bad for your health, so going vegetarian for at least a few meals a week can provide a healthy balance in your diet.
If you are interested in getting into meal planning, you may want to check out $5 Meal Plan. They provide meal plans (including a gluten-free option) and shopping lists for every single week for just $5 a month. You also get a 14-day trial to start!
15. Grow your own vegetables
This tip may be a challenge for some, but if you have a green thumb, you can save some serious money! Lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers are all great options if you have access to a garden.
If you don’t have a garden (thank you vertical city life), you can at least grow a herb garden and have some chives or scallions to garnish your meals. They will be beautiful green decorations for your home, too.
Which ones of these tips do you use in life? What are some other easy hacks that you use to save money on groceries? Leave a comment down below!
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Bella Wanana is a freelance writer. She is the owner of bellawanana.com, a personal finance and lifestyle blog. She loves sharing with her readers the best tips and tricks on personal finance and how to live a balanced but fulfilling life. She has been featured on sites like MSN.com, Reader’s Digest, The Financial Diet, Yahoo Finance, and GOBankingRates.