5 Tips for Grocery Shopping on a Budget
Although the holidays are an amazing time of family togetherness, cozy gatherings, and nostalgic memories, high interest rates and steep spending can make this time of year quite stressful. If you're starting to feel the financial anxiety creeping in, remember that you're not alone: the holidays are a recognized trigger for money-related stress. And it's not just gift-shopping. Food is expensive too: the average Canadian family of four spends more than $200 a week on groceries alone.
If you're trying to ease the burden of your grocery bill—or even take some major steps towards reducing your debt and overall stress—we're here to help. Check out our top five easy tips for grocery shopping on a budget:
1. Price Checking—The Smart Way
We're not suggesting that you spend hours cutting out coupons in an extended arts-and-crafts project. Simply subscribe to flyers from three grocery stores where you like to shop. Then, the next time you're on a lunch break, you can pull out the three weekly flyers and compare prices. This will only take you a few minutes and can help you discover where the best deals are for the week of grocery shopping.
Another perk of comparing flyers? It can get you thinking about what you actually need to get at the grocery store, so you won't be overwhelmed by choices when you’re there. Being unprepared can lead to impulse purchasing of things you don't necessarily need, so price-comparing can prime you to make smart decisions for your grocery budget ahead of time.
Another option is getting an app that compares prices for you. There are many apps that can do this. Flipp is one of them. With Flipp App you create a shopping list and every item you have on your shopping list will automatically show you which stores in your area that have that item on sale.
2. Cut Out Unnecessary Expenses
If there's a special event or a birthday coming up and you can afford it, by all means splurge for the finest cut of steak and the freshest seafood from your local market. But for your day to day purchases, it can be helpful to consider removing expensive items from your grocery cart. For example, can you eat less meat with your meals? Can you substitute expensive proteins like steak for more modest expenditures like rice and beans?
Although it sounds like a sacrifice, substituting out some of your tried-and-true favourites can bring some diversity into your diet. It can inspire you to try new recipes, experiment with new flavour combinations, and think outside the box. Here are some other items you might consider cutting out of your shopping list:
- Processed foods like chips and cookies
- Drinks like soda or sugary fruit juice
- Broth or other things you can easily make at home
- Pre-packaged items like rice that can be bought in bulk
3. Buy in Bulk
One of the best ways to save on dried goods is to buy in bulk. Although you might feel intimidated by the up-front price tag, over the long run it’s more economical to purchase products you use frequently in bulk quantities. This works best for items that you consider staples in your diet—like rice, beans, or oats—and it has the added benefit of building up your pantry. Not every grocery store has a well-stocked bulk section, so you might have to shop around a bit to find one that offers the products that you use most frequently in cooking or baking.
If you have a stockpile of bulk grains built up, this is an easy way to make cheap meals on the fly. You can easily whip up rice and beans with what's on hand and mix it with some seasonal veggies for a delicious stir-fry. Or use oats to make a cheap and nutritious breakfast that can be easily seasoned with whatever you have around the house.
4. Be Flexible: Sale and Store Brand
When it comes to grocery shopping on a budget, it's important to keep an open mind. Although you'll definitely have some must-haves on your list, you can also maintain some flexibility when it comes to other items. For example, if you were planning on cooking broccoli this Tuesday night, but happen to see there's a sale on green beans, it's a great idea to purchase the green beans and extend your budget.
This also goes for store brand items. In many cases, the store brand dish soap has the same exact ingredients as the name brand you usually buy. If you're willing to be flexible and buy based on sale price, you might discover you have a new favourite brand!
5. Prepare Ahead of Time
Even an $8 lunch every day at work is going to significantly eat into your food budget. If you're trying to save money, plan to prepare lunches ahead of time. You can even prepare over the weekend by freezing any leftovers you have and bringing them into work during the week. If you're not a fan of re-heating food at work, you can always prepare simple lunches like sandwiches.
And the same goes for coffee. If you want to cut back on the habit of buying that $5 latte every morning on the way to work, make your own coffee in the morning and take it with you in a reusable thermos. Later on, you can just use the coffee maker at work to satisfy the urge for caffeine.
Also, planning your dinners ahead of time can save on time and money. If you plan your meals on the weekend for the upcoming week, based on the flyers you have already looked through, you can save a lot of money. You can modify your weekly meals depending on what is on sale at your local grocery stores.
We know that it can be a difficult time of year financially but making some simple changes in your grocery shopping routine can definitely help you save enough money to make a difference in your budget. If you'd like more information on debt relief solutions and ways to avoid debt consolidation during tough financial times, contact us today. We can help you start the New Year on the right foot!