Trying to reduce your grocery spend? Good for you! Here are a few tips to get you started:
1. Plan around sales.
Forming your menu around the week’s discounts is a great way to stay under budget while still adding variety to your diet. Different items will be on offer every week, so you won’t get bored with eating the “cheap” stuff. Also remember, it’s perfectly OK to stock up when things are on sale and freeze the foods for a later date. Just don’t forget to actually use it. (More on that in #10.)
2. Use coupons and vouchers.
You can find them in the weekly circulars, or even online. Manufacturer’s coupons aren’t too hard to find with a quick Google search, and some supermarkets will double or triple your coupons — helping the savings really add up. But don’t get carried away. Coupons can only save you money when redeemed for products you were already planning to buy. If hunting for coupons tempts you to buy excessively, then the whole thing is counterproductive.
3. Buy generic brands.
Brand name products often look more appealing on the shelf, simply because we recognise the name or the packaging. But that’s just a marketing trick. You may be surprised to learn that shoppers can save an average of 15 – 30 percent by choosing store brands instead.1 If your budget is especially tight, you may want to make a habit of buying the item with the cheapest unit price, no matter the brand.
4. Stick to your list.
It’s easy to get side-tracked at the supermarket, but impulse buying is a sure-fire way to accidentally exceed your budget. And if your eye tends to stray towards junk food like chips and chocolate, the purchase is certainly unnecessary. Stay focused, make a list beforehand, and commit to buying just those items and nothing more.
5. Buy ingredients, not ready meals.
Pre-packaged meals are a wonderful convenience, but they aren’t necessarily cost-effective. Or even healthy. Put that frozen pizza back in the freezer and pick up a block of cheese and a jar of sauce instead (which can work for many meals, not just pizza).
6. Change your diet.
Just because you have a hankering for an expensive cut of meat doesn’t mean you have to follow through and buy it — especially when you’re on a budget. You could buy cheaper cuts of meat, or ditch the meat altogether and get your protein from beans and nuts. If you can’t go without meat completely, make it last by mixing it with cheaper foods like beans, pasta or frozen vegetables.
7. Stock up on freebies.
Restaurants probably aren’t a great idea when you’re trying to save money. But if you’re able to afford a treat every now and then, take advantage of any complimentary foods or condiments offered with your meal. Today’s breadsticks could be tomorrow’s stuffing.
8. Use what you have.
Before you rush out to the store, take inventory of your cupboards and plan meals around the food you’ve already bought. Chances are good your pantry is already filled to the max with staples like rice, tinned goods or pasta — which can easily be turned into an inexpensive meal.
9. Stretch your portions.
It goes without saying that eating smaller portions makes food last longer. But we’ll say it anyway. If you dine out or order takeaway, eat a small portion and take the leftovers home for another meal or two. Or split your food with a mate, so that each of you pay half.
1Hubbard, K. (2013, Oct. 2). Retrieved from http://bit.ly/1kpNpy9
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