7 Ways to Stretch Your Dollars Further at the Grocery Store
There’s no denying the pinch we’re all feeling when doing groceries now. Even basic items are costing more and more, giving you less bang for your buck. But what if there was a way to make your money go further without having to sacrifice on nutrition or flavour?
Try out these budget shopping tips for yourself:
1. Create a meal plan
While it's tempting to run to a nearby fresh market or grocery store for the odd ingredient here or there or to get some dinner inspiration, you'll save more money if you plan the week’s meals in advance. Making a list and sticking to it will ensure that you'll have all of what you need, will help you avoid expensive impulse purchases and will also reduce your risk of buying duplicate ingredients that may already be languishing at the back of your pantry or store cupboard. Make your food budget stretch even further by making dishes with similar ingredients, so that no food item is wasted over the week. Bonus: Because you know exactly what you’re shopping for, you’ll waste less time in aisles that you don’t need to be in.
2. Eat before doing groceries
To further reduce the risk of impulse buying and wasting money, refrain from doing groceries when hungry. Shopping for food when you’re feeling peckish makes everything (unhealthy) look extremely appealing in the moment, so do your health and your wallet a favour, and fill up before you go.
3. Keep an eye out for store bargains
Now that you’ve got your shopping list in order, you can still save money at the store with some smart shopping strategies. For instance, in-season fruits and vegetables are not only fresher, but they tend to be cheaper than other produce. Look for store bargains such as Buy 1-Get-1-Free, discounts on bulk purchases, or marked down prices on items that are nearing their expiration or best before dates. At the meat counter, buy cuts of meat that are on sale and freeze the extra portions for later. And instead of buying pre-cut chicken pieces, buy a whole chicken and break it down yourself to shave a few more dollars off your grocery bill. Likewise, before heading out, quickly check store deals online, as sometimes stores offer a better deal online than at the storefront. Bonus: you’ll save a heap of time with shopping that’s done in just a few minutes with just a few clicks, AND delivered right to your doorstep!
4. Do you really need those snacks?
Think about it. While snacks and sodas are lovely want-to-haves, we don’t really NEED them. If you can’t stop snacking completely, even just reducing the amounts you buy will make a substantial difference on your grocery bill. And you’ll be much healthier too with the less junk you buy. Stick to water at home instead of sugary sodas!
5. Buy hearty and flexible foods
Yes, flexible foods. By that we don’t mean foods that can stretch and bend; rather, flexible foods are those that can be prepared as stand-alone, main dishes themselves or used with other ingredients to create a side dish. For instance, potatoes are an extremely flexible food. Not only are they affordable, there is a wide variety of different types available, they are hearty, and they can be consumed in so many different ways (think hash browns, mash, baked, fries, wedges, potato bread, and so on). Other examples of hearty flexible foods include rice, pasta, eggs, oatmeal, lentils and canned vegetables, all of which will all keep you filled up for longer.
6. Slow cook cheaper cuts of meat
Be creative with protein sources. Cheaper cuts of meat can be fatty and tough, and are often overlooked as they are mistaken to be inedible. However, cheaper cuts such as pork butt, pork spare ribs, beef short ribs and beef shoulder can be cooked perfectly in a slow cooker. All these cuts are a lot cheaper than their much more popular (and very expensive cousins), resulting in fall-off-the-bone tender meat when cooked in a slow cooker (and you don’t even have slave over the stove to do any of the cooking).
7. Build meals around less meat
Instead of making meat the main focus of your meal, think of dishes such as stir fries, noodle soups or pastas that are an easy way to build a tasty dish with just minimal amounts of meat. Likewise, add a bit of variety and swap the meat for healthier (and much cheaper) plant-based or vegetarian protein sources such as tofu, cheese, beans, lentils and other soy products.