Once your housing and travel costs have been taken care of, it's paying for food that is likely to cause you the most headaches. Banish them on your next grocery shop with these quick tips!
Eat before you shop
Don't head to the grocery store on an empty stomach - you'll just go crazy grabbing anything and everything off the shelf, including stuff you definitely don't need. Even worse, those hunger pangs can make you more susceptible to gravitating helplessly towards junk food! So by eating before you head out of the door, you could just save a few pounds and dollars.
Reconsider what dinner actually is
If you're anything like so many of us, you might be used to thinking of 'dinner' as something pretty grand - a big cut of meat, several steaming sides of vegetables, a French loaf... you get the idea. The truth is, you and your family can survive just fine on omelets, salads and BLTs. Reacquainting yourself with the simple pleasures of simple meals can do so much to relieve your budgetary pressures and your guilt about how well you are feeding everyone in your household.
Keep an eye on unit prices
That discount on that product you always get anyway may seem darned hefty, but how does the price you pay work out on a per-unit (such as per-ounce or per-pound) basis? Even if the unit prices for the products you are comparing aren't listed anywhere, all that you have to do is divide the total cost by the number of units.
Don't restrict yourself to fresh produce
Fresh produce is always the way to go, right? Wrong. When produce is out of season, you'll be happier for having bought the canned, frozen or dried alternatives. We don't just mean these options are cheaper than fresh produce, although that is usually the case. That's because you also won't see any disadvantage in terms of nutritional value. You see, fresh produce tends to surrender a certain amount of nutritional value in transit, whereas vegetables - for instance - are frozen when they are at their ripest, which is also when their nutritional value is at its greatest.
Make your own bread
Fair enough, so you can't make everything on your shopping list from scratch - you would struggle to find the time, anyway. But bread is certainly one thing you can create with your own hands. The ingredients that you'll need don't even cost as much as a store-bought loaf, and while a certain amount of time investment is undoubtedly needed, if you love doing this kind of thing anyway, you'll be able to enjoy all of the satisfaction of knowing you made your own high-quality, fresh bread. Your home will also smell amazing!
Buy in bulk... and do it intelligently
If you're serious about slashing huge amounts off your grocery bill, you really do need to join a bulk value shopping club. There's nothing like buying in bulk for saving big on your food costs, although there's also unquestionably a right way to do it, and a wrong way. The very fact that buying in bulk means buying a lot of items at once means that you should focus on those items you use a lot. It sounds like obvious advice, but so many determined savers can end up with overflowing pantries, stuffed with items that haven't been used up even six months down the line.
Fall in love with lists and discipline
Yes, we all hate having to do things according to a predetermined plan, rather than just doing whatever the hell we want to do... at least until we realize how much money it could save us on our groceries. The fact is, all of this stuff serves a purpose. So, don't be afraid to plan what you'll eat and therefore need to buy, week by week. What will you and your family be having for your breakfasts, lunches and dinners? Get the list together, and don't buy anything not on that list. You'll find it so much easier to say no to impulsive candy purchases as a result.
Only pay with cash
Bringing only cold, hard cash with you to the store - while leaving the cards at home - will make it much easier for you to limit your spending, especially on any unplanned impulse buys. Another top tip: if you still find yourself running out of cash to buy all of the essentials for the month ahead, split the same amount of money over shopping trips every two weeks, or even one a week.
Opt for aged meats
This is a great example of a 'win win' - not only does meat get better with age just like wine does, but some stores sell their oldest meats at discounted prices. Yes, you'll have to pay the price of a fast-approaching expiration date in many cases. But that might just inspire you to make good use of what may well be a tastier meat than that to which you're accustomed!
Not only it is (pretty much) free, but it's also healthy. It's certainly a way for you to avoid you or your kids drinking too many of those horrible sugary sodas, the brand names of which, we're sure we don't need to mention. You can add cordial for flavour - and for just a fraction of the price of soda! Although this list is by no means exhaustive as far as all of the ways of saving money on groceries are concerned, we think it's a darned good one to be getting started with. What do you think? What methods have you adopted to make sure you're sticking to your food and drink budget every day, week and month?