Grocery shopping. The bane of a home budget’s existence. It’s something that you can’t live without, yet it can add an unnecessary amount of stress to your week.
However, you don’t have to fear your weekly grocery shopping anymore, especially if you’ve been looking for different ways to crank up your budget shopping game and spend less money overall. If you’ve never planned for your grocery shopping before, no worries. You’ve come to the right place.
Keep on reading for our key tips for budget shopping, and how you can truly play up your meal planning game, as well as save a ton of money in the process.
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Budget Shopping 101: Meal Plan With a List
Let’s start with the most basic of steps, yet it can truly transform the way you grocery shop.
When you meal plan in advance, you’ll have a tailor-made list of all the groceries that you need to buy, according to the meals you’ll be cooking this specific week.
Start by writing down the meals you’ll want to have for the week. Then, you can double-check the ingredients that you already have in your pantry, and whether you have the staples on hand.
If not, or if you find that you’re missing some key ingredients, add those to your list. Now, you’re ready to hit the grocery store with your list in hand, and you’ll be surprised at how much money you’ve saved on preventing unnecessary buys.
Sure, we’ve talked about the importance of adding structure to your meal prepping and your grocery shopping. Yet, sometimes being flexible can help you save a lot of money in the long run.
For instance, if you’ve been planning on buying cauliflower, but you could that there’s a substantial sale on your broccoli, you can always change things up and grab the broccoli instead.
As you spend more time crafting your favorite meals, you’ll get better at sensing which ingredients are perfect substitutes for each other. All you need to do is remind yourself to stay flexible.
Learn the Difference Between the Clean 15 and the Dirty Dozen
In the simplest of terms, the dirty dozen and the clean 15 are a list of fruits and vegetables that help you decide on which ones to buy organic, and the others that are perfectly okay to go the conventional route.
After all, when you’re trying to save money, you’ll want to take advantage of the vegetables that are okay to buy cheaper and conventional.
You can follow this simple rule: if the vegetable or fruit has thick skin, it should be fine to eat without shelling for the organic option. On the other hand, if you’re looking at ones with exposed inner parts or thin skin (think grapes), then you’ll want to go organic.
Pick Frozen When You Can
Sure, there are times when you need those raspberries or you feel like you might expire. In those cases, you can always go with the frozen option.
With frozen fruits and veggies, you get to take advantage of the cheaper prices, as well as its longer shelf life (in the freezer, of course). Besides, there are always fruits that are out of season, so picking the frozen option might actually be your only option.
And, this doesn’t have to be a bad thing. After all, the best quality frozen fruits and veggies have been frozen at their optimal times to seal in the highest quantities of nutrients.
However, you’ll want to keep in mind that going with fresh produce is always the best route to go. You can simply supplement your options with frozen produce.
Go With Less Meat
When we pick meals that are heavy on the meat, you’re limiting yourself to picking high-quality cuts for both health and safety reasons. Needless to say, good quality meat can get quite expensive.
This is the point where you start playing around with meatless meals. Ever heard of meatless Mondays? It’s a great way to inject more veggies into your diet and cut down on your food costs at the same time.
If you’re conscious about your effect on the environment and have been looking for ways to become more environmentally friendly, then you’ll want to do some research into plant-based cooking.
Take Advantage of Deals
There are some sweet deals that you can sign-up for, as well as rewards programs that you can integrate into your grocery shopping process.
After all, it makes no sense not to.
Regardless of your grocery shopping place of choice, all of them will have a rewards program of one kind or another. Make sure to ask clerks at your local grocery stores. Besides, you can always view more deals here, and sign up for deals online.
Shop In Bulk (Whenever Possible)
There are specific ingredients that are perfect for buying in bulk. Things like grains and nuts tend to be much cheaper in bulk, than buying two boxes of quinoa or black beans.
It’s a better option to cut down on your costs, produce less waste, and even do fewer grocery shopping trips in the long run, due to your rich pantry.
You’ll want to aim for a grocery store that specializes in bulk selling, like Costco, and do a monthly trip for all of your bulk-buying needs. For example, this is the time to buy the items that you’ll use to fill your pre-labeled jars, like sugar and flour.
Whenever you find your stock is getting low, then it’s time to plan another bulk-shopping visit.
Cracking the Grocery Shopping Code
We know that things can get a bit overwhelming, especially with the economy yo-yo-ing all over the place.
Hopefully, our guide into the most effective strategies you can apply to level up your budget shopping process has got your creative juices flowing.
When in doubt, remember to stick to your list. If there’s something that you feel like you’ve forgotten, it probably wasn’t needed in the first place.
If you liked these tips, make sure to check out our lifestyle section for all the strategies and advice that you could need to lead a successful and stress-free life.