Well we all need to eat right? But sometimes the budget is tight and grocery shopping is a little overwhelming. Here are a few tips to help save you a little bit of stress
- Don’t buy pre-packed foods: It’s like paying other people to do your cooking for you. The preparation is a service that you can do yourself so don’t pay extra for it.
- That being said…You don’t have to spend hours a week preparing your own food. Keep it simple by pairing in-season fruits and veggies with protein you buy in bulk and some carbs (and carbs are cheap! Think potatoes, rice, and bread). For example, at the end of the summer zucchini are in season so I’ll usually have a meal or two with roasted zucchini, grilled chicken, and some rice. Cheap, easy, done.
- Plan out your meals: I know this sounds tedious but don’t over think it. If you just write down what you are going to eat that week (you can even exclude breakfast and lunch if you eat most of the same things every day) You can save by buying in bulk, or using the same ingredients for different meals and not wasting it.
- Cut back on the meat: Meat is often the most expensive item on your list. Try making a few of your meals meatless; there are tons of other protein options. Beans, nut butters, and egg are some much less expensive options. Dairy is another great way to get in some protein for a little less. Yogurt, cheese, and cottage cheese make super quick and filling breakfasts and lunches. I usually try to plan 2 dinners a week without meat and to only use lunch meat and eggs during lunch if I want to add in some meat.
- Stick to your list: After you plan your meals write a list of things that you need for those meals and snacks and don’t buy anything else. That is the downfall of so many of us. We are walking through the isles and things that we don’t need just pop out at us! I can end up spending twice as much as I should have at the grocery store on things I don’t even need! It takes some self control but it pays off big time in the end.
- Bring a snack: I’m sure you’ve heard the saying: never grocery shop on an empty stomach. Well- some of us don’t even need to have an empty stomach to catch a serious case of the munchies at the grocery store. Bring something to munch on while you shop to curb some of those cravings that cause you to over spend on snacks. You could even pick out your box of crackers first thing when you get there and eat them while you bust out the rest of your list.
- Don’t be afraid to shop around: This one can be big. You have to be willing to put in a little extra effort to really maximize the savings here. It’s rare that you find one store that is the cheapest place to buy everything on your list. Stores that have great prices on things like cereal, canned goods, and peanut butter may have expensive produce. I find that I can usually break it down into 3 stores: a local market for produce, a Wal-Mart type store for non grocery items, and a straight up grocery store for everything else. To be honest, I only stick to this rule about a third of the time because it’s just so easy to knock everything out in the same store. But if you can manage it can really make a difference.