It wasn’t soon after the bag boy starting bagging my grocery items on my first trip out shopping that I was struck with the harsh realization that we couldn’t afford our food! Items were being scanned, the total was rising, and so was my pulse! I was slightly dumbfounded that eating could be such an expensive endeavor, and swiped my Visa card in a shocked daze. Carrying my bags out to the car, I resolved to find the solution. Below are the strategies I have found to cut costs and shop smarter.
Always Have a Plan
Stepping foot into the grocery store without a thought out plan is a recipe for disaster – at least financially speaking. You need a detailed list of the items you need to buy, and the quantity you need to buy them in. Don’t guess that you might need this, and you probably already have that. Check before you go and you will save on overstocking items or having to run back out for something you ended up needing.
The Great Shopping List
As we’ve already established, you need a grocery list. But it’s more complex then that. To create a sufficient and money-saving shopping list you need to do more than scan the cupboards and refrigerator, jotting down items that seem to be missing and that you might need more of. You need to take time to think through the week and decide exactly the ingredients you will need. I like to do this by getting out the cookbooks and planning which meals I will cook for each day of the week (obviously interchangeable to fit your appetite on any given day). After I have my meals, I look over the ingredients and make a list of all the things I will need to buy. Add on to that list milk and cereal (or any of the staples in you home that you go through each week) and you have yourself an efficient grocery list. You will only buy the things you need, saving money and preventing food from being forgotten and spoiling.
Find the Right Recipes
So you’re planning your grocery list off of the recipes you plan to make for the week. This means that the recipes you choose (and the ingredients that are in them) will have a direct impact on the amount of money you spend. Take time to find budget-friendly recipes on the internet, in cookbooks, and in magazines. There are countless resources for budget friendly cooking and baking.
Shop at the Right Stores
In my neck of the woods, we have Family Fares on convenient corners close to my house and work. These grocery stores are nice, stock mostly all the stuff I need, and are convenient to get to during my daily routine. But here’s the catch: most of the stuff costs more then I need to pay. Sure, if you have the money these types of Grocery stops are great solutions- but this article is about saving money. Discount stores like Aldi, Save A Lot, and the like (whatever you have in your area) can provide deep discounts on the groceries you need. Sure, they might not be quite as convenient and you might have to bring your own bags, but the money you’ll save will be worth the effort. You also should be open to the fact that you might need to go to more than one store to get all the things you need. Sometimes Aldi doesn’t have something on my list (such as produce), so I head over to WalMart Super Center or Mijer to finish off my shopping.
If you plan ahead, look for discount grocery stores, and pay attention to sales, you can do wonders for your budget. A little extra time and effort will go a long way in saving you bundles.