We all need food to survive, but today’s outrageously high grocery bills can make it hard for our paychecks to do so. Here are a few great ways to shop on a budget. We’re going to show that you can indeed be frugal and fabulous at the same time.
Reap the rewards. Get the free rewards card if it’s offered at your supermarket. It can easily save you a few extra dollars on your average shopping trip. Sometimes you’ll receive a discount after spending a certain amount of money. If you’re going to spend it anyway, you might as well receive credit for it, especially if the card doesn’t cost anything. Also, if you have an iPhone, you can download an app that allows you to keep all of your card bar codes in one place, so you always have them with you.
Buy what’s on sale. This may sound obvious, but it’s a super helpful reminder. Check your grocery store’s weekly circular. See if the store offers any two-for-one specials or coupons. If you plan the week’s meals based on the sale, you can easily save a decent amount of money. This also helps you become more creative in the kitchen, giving you the opportunity to try different foods you might not necessarily have cooked or eaten before!
When you plan your grocery list, stick to it. Try not to wander off to the beauty products section if milk, eggs and a loaf of bread are really all you need this time. We all like to treat ourselves to something extra, and this is perfectly fine every once in a while. But be sure you don’t make a habit of it, because the dollar signs do add up.
Don’t shop on an empty stomach. Ever hear the old saying “your eyes are bigger than your stomach”? Well, that cliché comes into play here. When people shop hungry, they tend to buy more food than they actually need. If you eat a little something before you shop, you may be less inclined to fill your shopping cart to capacity. This will definitely help you save money.
Practice portion control. When you visit the butcher station, ask for smaller cuts of meat, especially if you know you’re going to waste a good portion of what you buy. Choosing smaller portions will help you save money. They’ll also help save you a few calories and reach your weight loss goals.
Coupons, coupons, coupons. Request coupons from your favorite food products by calling the phone number on the back of the product container or visiting the product website. Also, search for coupon codes when shopping online. Large websites such as retailmenot.com offer hundreds of coupon codes every day. All you need to do is search for your favorite online store and check if there’s a discount (e.g. free shipping, 15% off your entire order, buy one item - get one free, etc.). You can also perform a Google search and check multiple sites for coupons. It only takes a few seconds.
If you can freeze it, do it. If you choose to buy meat or fish in bulk or at a sale price, remove from the original packaging and place in freezer bags. This will ensure that the meat stays fresh for 3-5 months in the freezer.
Check your receipt. At the end of your shopping trip, before you leave the store, take a few minutes to check if there’s a mistake on your receipt. These errors happen more often than you’d think. Nobody’s perfect and sometimes cashiers accidentally charge you extra; all it takes is the push of one incorrect button and your bill can be a few dollars more than it should be. If you spot an error on your bill, stop at the courtesy desk, which is usually located at the front of the store. The clerk should have no problem returning the cash owed to you.
Don’t buy more perishables than you need. Will you be able to use all the food before it expires? Don’t buy more perishable food than you can finish before it expires. When you stop by the deli section, for example, be mindful of how much turkey, ham, salami or roast beef you or your household members will actually consume before the product starts to perish.
Buy non-perishables in bulk. Memberships to wholesale clubs seem like they cost a lot, but they save you money in the long run. Buying items such as toothpaste, toilet paper, paper plates and napkins in bulk at the wholesale store can save you money, and can also save you from having to make multiple trips to the grocery store in the future. You can also share a wholesale club membership with a friend, shop together, and split the bill based on who bought which items. Going with a friend can also make shopping much more fun.
Vacuum pack it. Invest in a vacuum/food packaging machine. Especially if you buy in bulk, vacuum-saved food will last longer, and leftovers will stay fresh longer. Throwing away less food means throwing away less money.
So, now you can see that it’s easy to save a few bucks on every shopping trip. Be smart, be savvy, and don’t feed into temptation to buy more than you need. And yes, the pun is very much intended :)