You know you’ve really become an adult when you start thinking about budgeting.
And once you start thinking about budgeting, one of the hardest things to get a handle on is grocery shopping. Naturally, we all need to eat, but how do we keep from spending every last penny on food?
I’ve come up with eight ideas to help with just that.
- Set Your Budget.Take a good look at your finances. Check your banking history and determine how much you have been spending and how much you would like to be spending on groceries every month, and how often you’re going to shop for groceries. It’s okay if it takes a couple of adjustments for the first couple of months. You may find your household needs to spend a little more than you planned, or maybe you’re not spending the whole budget (yay!). Just get a dollar amount in mind.
- Make a Grocery List. Excess spending comes partly from impulse purchases. When you menu plan and go grocery shopping with a list, it’s easier to stay on track and only come out with what you need. Some self discipline is still required, of course. A grocery list isn’t going to magically keep you from walking down the junk food aisle if you really want to go there, but it’s definitely going to help.
- Evaluate Your Pantry. Do you really need four different kinds of cereal? Why are you buying potato chips? Bake your own darn cookies, I guarantee they’ll taste better. Look at your spending habits and determine if there is anything superfluous that you can cut out for the time being. Not necessarily permanently, that’s between you and your health, but at least until your budget is back on track.
- Use What You Buy. This is where menu planning comes in handy. You’re less likely to be stuck with a fridge full of food going to waste if you plan ahead and only buy supplies for what you need. If you’re planning to eat out at some point during the week, you know you don’t need to plan a meal for that day, and thus don’t need groceries for it. Just exercise some discipline on the nights when you’re tempted to order take out when you have a meal planned, it’ll save you money and food.
- Calculate as You Go. Everyone’s phone has a calculator and a note pad now. Make a note of prices, weigh your produce and keep a running total as you go through the store so that you don’t have any surprises when you get to the till.
- Be Prepared for Adjustments. Sometimes an item is out of stock, or is more expensive than you expected, or something is a really good deal. Be prepared to think on your feet. You might need to substitute an ingredient, or rearrange your menu. Your grocery list isn’t set in stone. Sometimes life gets in the way. Roll with the punches and you might just come up with something brilliant.
- Take Cash. If you’re like me, and the grocery gets paid for via that magical little plastic card in your wallet, and therefore if you go over your budget a little, maybe try using cash to buy your groceries. You can’t go over budget if you don’t physically have the money. If you’re paying in cash and you only have x amount to spend, you have to work a little harder to stay within budget. Or else you end up being that person who has to put things back when they’re at the till. No one wants to be that person.
- Shop the Sales. You know those flyers you get in the mail that have been dubbed “junk mail”? Sit down sometime and go through them. You can compare sales between stores to figure out the best deal, and it’s also a great way to stock up on long term items like meats that you can divide up and freeze or non-perishables. Also, in this technology-blessed era, most grocery stores have websites where you can browse the sales. Also, if you find out which stores have a price matching guarantee, you can bring a flyer from a competitor showing a sale, and your store will match the sale price. That way you don’t need to drive all over town to get the best deals.
If you’re looking to save some money and get more organised with your grocery shopping, give these eight tricks a try. I guarantee you’ll see change. What tried and tested money saving tricks do you use? Let us know in the comment section below!