5 Easy Tips for Grocery Shopping on a Budget

November 4, 2019

Making your meals more cost-effective begins with your trip to the grocery store as having food at home is an excellent way to keep you from eating out at restaurants, bars, and fast-food eateries. With a few tips, tricks, and modifications to your grocery shopping plan, you can save more money in the long run.

Have you been wondering how to budget for groceries? Here are some helpful tips we’ve compiled to make it as easy as possible:

1. Create a weekly menu

Perhaps the least appealing thing about grocery shopping is that it leaves you responsible for making time and summoning the energy to cook meals. If you’re a parent, work a forty-hour week, and/or are a student, being able to make cooking happen requires attention to detail and strategy.

Before going to the grocery store, make a menu of food you’d like to eat and are excited to cook. Just like you would at a restaurant, think of a meal you’re hungry for that’s also feasible to prepare. We recommend considering meal prepping on a day you have some time to dedicate to cooking.

Once you have your menu written, write out all the ingredients you’ll need to prepare these dishes. You don’t necessarily need a new dish every day, so think about meals you’d enjoy eating more than once a week.  A great money-saving tip is to survey your ingredient list and find places where you can use an ingredient more than once so that you’re maximizing your shopping list.

2. Shop seasonally

Shopping seasonally is not just a tool for your budget but also a perk for your health. You save money when you shop locally because you’re opting for produce that is in high volume at that period in time. Even better, if you live in an area where you’re able to find fresh produce near you from a farmer, you’ll be buying food that is more sustainable because it didn’t have to travel a far distance to make it to your home.  Find out what produce is local to your state and see if you can devise a meal plan that incorporates these foods.

3. Eat what you already have

It’s not unlikely that you have plenty of food to eat at home that has been sitting in your freezer, fridge, or pantry. Clean out these spaces, check the expiration date of all your existing foods, and plan your upcoming meals based on what you already have that’s still good to eat.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported approximately 133 billion pounds of food loss at the retail and consumer levels. Surveying your pantry and planning around what you already have is one step towards avoiding contributing to this massive problem of food waste.

4. Choose store-brand foods when possible

Generally, store-brand foods (also known as generic or private label) tend to be cheaper than their name brand counterparts. The reason for the lower cost of these products commonly revolves around the reduction in advertising spend by the retailer. This, however, doesn’t necessarily mean the retailer has forsaken product quality or flavor.

Business Insider reported findings from a 2014 study conducted by the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business detailing that chefs tend to lean towards store-brand foods and medical professionals towards store-brand drugs. Even better, this same article takes away the difficulty in deciding which products to shop generic versus name brand by cataloging a list of food supplies chefs tend to buy in generic name brands.

5. Buy in bulk

If you live with multiple people (roommates, partners, children, extended family, etc.) buying in bulk could be a fantastic money-saving option for your recurring groceries like eggs, toilet paper, or soaps. An article in U.S. News suggests buying items in bulk tends to bring the cost down because the product cost is usually less per unit. While your average savings per purchase might not be jaw-dropping, these small changes yield longer-term savings.

As you budget for groceries and plan for your next shopping trip, consider integrating these tips to bring down your average grocery spend. Groceries are a necessity and you should be purchasing what you want to eat. Consult your budget as you incorporate these changes to take note of which changes are working best for your lifestyle.

No matter how you decide to bring your bill down, be sure you’re not sacrificing your enjoyment of food. Saving money and making food you want to eat are two ideas that can coexist.

Are you considering adding a baby to your family?

Check out this blog post for tips and tricks to financially prepare for having and raising a child.

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