Grocery Shopping on a Tight Budget: Ways to Save Money
Cutting down expenses is never an easy task. It takes time to prevent yourself from making all the unnecessary purchases on a daily basis. On top of that, if you love to go on shopping sprees or are an impulsive buyer, it will take you a while before you finally figure things out.
Ways to Save Money on a Tight Budget
- Paying with cash
Once you start paying for your expenses with cash instead of switching to debit cards and credit cards, half of the problems will be solved on its own. You will be able to keep track of your daily expenses without having to go broke by the end of the month.
- Debit cards and Credits
If you need to get a hold of your expenses desperately, it is best to stop paying for stuff swiping your cards. You will spend money only on necessary stuff and prevent yourself from going on huge shopping sprees during sales.
Also, if you have already been dependent on your cards for a while now, it is high time for you to start paying back for the purchases that you made. In no time, you will be able to get rid of the constant pressure of paying back for your cards.
- Cutting down food expenses
A lot of us spend a lot of money on food than we ever realize. Cutting down on your grocery shopping can help you to save up from time to time and prevent you from having expensive meals in fancy restaurants.
- Online deals
Online deals are often better than the offers going on at malls or supermarkets. They are cheaper and there are a lot more options to choose from.
Apart from paying rents and other bills, most of our money is spent on expensive restaurant meals and unnecessary grocery shopping. However, it is never too late to start saving up and be more realistic while planning your budget for the month. The following ways will help you to save money when shopping for groceries.
How to Save Money on Groceries Following the 10 Steps
- Keeping track of your expenses
Based on what you draw from your salary per month, take the time to make a list of all your expenses for the next 30 days before planning on how to cut down your grocery budget. Include your rent and other bills on the list so you can keep an account of how much you actually spend in a month. This will also give you the opportunity to start saving up some money every month once you begin cutting down unnecessary expenses.
When you are on a shopping spree, collect all your receipts so that at the end of the day, you can go home and list it down. You may not be aware of how much additional money you have been spending causing you to go broke by the end of the month unless you keep a track of your daily expenses.
- Planning out a budget-friendly grocery list
After finding out the exact amount of your bills per month, you need to sit down and find out how much money you can spend on groceries per month. Since it is hard to make a list of what you should be buying for a whole month, make a weekly list of the items.
This will also allow you to plan out your meals per week and your trips to the supermarket will be less time-consuming considering the fact that you will already know which things to buy.
Moreover, you will be able to avoid impulsive shopping if you already have a list on your mind and are aware of how much you can actually spend to prevent yourself from being broke till the month is over.
- Figuring out your preferences
It is natural to stray away from your grocery list while walking down the aisles of the supermarket due to the variety of brands and new products being stocked up every week. But while doing so, you should try to stick to your basic needs and prioritize on them more rather than shopping impulsively.
Stick to your ‘must have’ list at all times and try to include healthy items like fresh fruits and vegetables to it. If you still have some money left after buying all your necessary goods, feel free to try out new products or just save up the money for future use.
- Restricting yourself from eating out and ordering food
Most people prefer ordering take out or eating out at a fancy restaurant rather than taking the time to cook at home after a busy day at work. While ordering food can be less time consuming, it can also be the cause of you following an unhealthy diet even after spending so much on healthy food items on your grocery list.
Eating out however is more time consuming if you think about the traffic and all the waiting that you may have to do till your food gets served. Not to mention, it will also add up to your transportation costs. Hence, if you have a habit of eating out or ordering food from outside due to laziness, think of all the extra food that would go to waste from your grocery shopping per month.
You can try buying more frozen food as a solution to this problem since it will only take you 5-10 minutes to heat the oil and fry them up. However, do treat yourself on special occasions like holidays or birthdays to try out new exciting cuisines from time to time.
- Bringing in a variety to your shopping cart
It is not logical and healthy to plan on eating the same kind of food every day for a whole month in order to stick to your tight budget. You will get bored of the food in no time and this will only urge you to order food or eat at a restaurant after a day’s work.
Therefore, plan out your meals per week and shop accordingly. Bring in new flavors starting from buying different proteins to changing the kind of vegetables you are used to eating. This will also keep you healthy and allow you to make new dishes at home every week.
- A special list for your fridge
If you tend to get hungry at the middle of the night, try to store up your fridge with items that you like to eat as an ‘after meal snack.’ Even if you don’t get hungry after dinner, it is always a good idea to keep a certain category of items in your fridge. This can include things like flavored yogurt, juice, ice cream, chocolates and anything else that you may like.
You can also buy a few items that you can use to cook in case you run out of food towards the end of the month to avoid shopping out of impulse.
- The leftovers
It is a good idea to cook your meals on the weekends to stay sorted out for the week. You can keep separate containers for your breakfast, lunch and dinner and improvise on them when you are tired of having the same food every day. For example, you can make soup or sandwiches out of the chicken that you may have roasted or fried for lunch.
You can also make a burrito out of the vegetables that you may have had before by adding new flavors to it. Improvising on your leftover food will also prevent you from ordering food or eating outside.
Even though the idea of coupons sounds interesting, it may not always be the best option for you while you are trying to stick to your budget. Many shops often mislead their customers into thinking they would be saving up by purchasing their ‘limited offer’ or ‘buy one get one free’ deals for the month. However, that isn’t always the case.
You could even find cheaper brands with great products from other shops rather than paying more for products that may not even come in handy. Stick to the coupons only if they have the best deals on your favorite items so that you can stock them up for later.
- Ongoing Sales
It is never a bad idea to stock up on a few seasonal or essential products if they are on sale at your nearby supermarket. Think of all the new recipes you could learn by using the same seasonal product. You can also stock up on your necessary items list like onions, potatoes etc. so that you can go out without having to add them to your grocery list for the next month. It will help you to save a lot of money that you can save up or use it to do something else for a change.
However, do not end up buying goods that you won’t ever eat only because you were unable to resist the tempting offers. Prevent yourself from buying more than you need because they would ultimately go to waste if you are unable to use it all up by the end of the month.
You should also know that stocking up won’t always mean you will have fewer trips to the mall afterward. You will actually be spending more on those extra goods every month only because of the ongoing sales.
- Comparing products and supermarkets
Sometimes supermarkets have a different price range on products and people can’t help but purchase goods from the ones which store the products of the same brand at a cheaper price. However, this may cause you to travel from one shop to the other adding up on your transportation costs and you will eventually be spending a lot of time deciding which shop to buy from.
There are also different prices on products from different aisles. The wheat that you usually buy may be pricier than the other brand stored in a different aisle. So in order to get a hold of the best price deals, you will have to look at the ongoing sales, offers and discounts whenever you go for shopping at these supermarkets.
Eating Healthy on a Tight Budget
- Purchasing seasonal fresh goods
This may be one of the easiest ways of enjoying seasonal fruits and vegetables while sticking to your budget. Seasonal fruits like mangoes or vegetables like cauliflower or parsnips are seasonal. If you love seasonal goods which are nutritious and can be a very good option for your diet, never miss a chance to stock up on them.
For example, strawberries are widely available during the months of August and September. It is very easy to wash and store them in the freezer so that you can enjoy the strawberries for the rest of the year making jams and jellies or pies out of them.
To stay ahead of the game, you can look out for ongoing sales or deals which will allow you to save up a little money from your grocery budget till the next season.
- Cheaper Cuts of Proteins
It is not necessary to buy chicken breasts only, to meet the demand of protein on your grocery list. You can buy other cuts of meat like the thighs which are cheaper. You can switch from different proteins like duck, beef, turkey, chicken and any other meat from time to time by buying portions which are cheaper. If the meat is hard, take your time to cook it slowly so that it gets a lot of time to become soft and tender.
You can also buy slow cookers for the sole purpose of softening your protein cuts so that you can enjoy a good and juicy steak meal at dinner. You should not be afraid of purchasing cheaper cuts because study shows they are more nutritional and full of flavors than the more expensive cuts.
You could even store the meat for later use if you were unable to use the whole chunk. It will give you the opportunity of improvising and experimenting on new recipes from time to time and help you to cut down your costs while giving you a chance to maintain a healthy diet.
- Beans and whole grains
Beans and grains are a staple diet for most Asians. This is honestly a good and healthy option since brown rice, freekeh, quinoa etc. taste good and are cheaper at the same time. It also allows you to make different dishes of diversified flavors that you can have as a side to your beans or rice. This means you will have more proteins and vegetables left for you to survive until the end of a month. It will also cut down your costs.
For people struggling to lose their weight, beans and whole grains can be a very good option for them to cut down some weight. Beans and whole grains can make you full after having a single plate and you could go on for hours without having the need to make snacks for yourself.
- Planning ahead
On weekends, plan out which vegetables you need to buy or add to your diet to stay as healthy as possible. A lot of people do not have the time to work out nowadays due to the load of work. This works best for them as they can cut down carbs and food with extra fats in them if they plan out their meals beforehand.
You can buy food containers made out of glass which will make the food last longer than usual. Separating containers and labeling them will prevent you from wasting stale food and allow you to stay healthy at the same time. You won’t even need to rush to the supermarket when you run out of food if you make it a habit of planning out your meals before the weekdays begin,
- The farmers market
The farmers market in your areas has the freshest vegetables and proteins that you could ever find. They bring in new goods every day early in the morning which are out of stock by night mostly.
The prices also go cheaper by the night because they want to sell as much of the remaining products as possible. They will also end up giving you more goods in your grocery bag out of generosity towards the end of their day’s sales to carry less weight on their way back home.
You should know that they also have ongoing sales every other day which are way cheaper and fresher than the ones at supermarkets!
- The ethnic markets
If you love cooking different cuisines at home, ethnic markets are the place where you want to be. They have exciting products that you may never have heard of before and the offers are also pretty great. The products that you will find there are actually way cheaper than the ones at supermarkets.
You will also find different kinds of herbs and spices which are otherwise unavailable at your nearby stores. So the next time you feel like having Chinese, Mexican or Indian food, you know where to go!
Taking responsibility of your expenses will make you a more cautious buyer in the future. In no time, you will have saved a lot of money and you will be able to use it for later use. Think smart, eat smart!