We all need to eat, but buying food can be a major expense — especially if you have a large family to take care of. However, if you’re willing to put in a little effort, there are plenty of ways to save money on your grocery bills and take a bit of stress away from your financial situation.
Set up a meal plan
Walking into a grocery store or market with no clear idea of what you should buy is a recipe for overspending. So, rather than aimlessly wandering the aisles until something catches your eye, sit down and plan out your meals for the week. Then, take a look at the ingredients you already have so you don’t waste anything or buy products you don’t need. Not only will building a weekly meal plan help you avoid potentially costly impulse purchases, it can go a long way towards helping you cook healthy, nourishing meals for your family.
Keep an eye out for sales
One of the easiest ways to cut a sizable chunk out of your weekly food costs is to see what’s your store of choice has discounted. Thankfully, many of the major supermarket chains advertise current sales through their websites or smartphone applications, so it’s remarkably simple to plan your purchases out before you set foot in the store. Searching for deals on products nearing their sell-by dates can also help you save on potentially expensive items like fresh meat.
Opt for store brands when possible
Most grocery stores have their own labels for products like cereal, medicine, deli meat, and more. Generally speaking, these items cost considerably less than their name brand counterparts, and the difference in quality is negligible. Clark.com’s Theo Thimou suggests that “buying the store brand will typically save you up to 30% without clipping coupons.” If you end up satisfied, you can maintain those savings with every repeat purchase.
Learn to love leftovers
If you routinely prepare meals for your family, odds are you close out the week with a fridge full of unfinished food. Rather than leaving it all to spoil and then condemning it to the trash can or garbage disposal, factor one big leftover dinner into your plan. It may be an eclectic spread, but it will reduce waste and slice the number of full meals you have to pay for by at least four every month.
Stock up on staples
There are tons of foodstuffs like rice and pasta that you can store without refrigeration for months on end. Business Insider’s Gina Zakaria recommends waiting for these items to go on sale, then picking up enough of each to carry you to the next time they receive a discount. In some cases, you may be able to save even more money by buying these products in bulk.
Grow your own ingredients
Fresh produce is a welcome addition to any meal, but it can get expensive very quickly. Instead, consider planting a small garden in the back yard where you can grow seasonal fruits and vegetables for a fraction of the price. If you’re working with limited space, you can still grow delicious ingredients like basil, rosemary, and chives in a pot on your window sill. Jennifer Beeler, a writer for Southern Living, says, “a pack of herbs from the grocery store can cost anywhere from $3 to $6 and you can use the pack for one, maybe two meals. Potted herbs, on the other hand, cost from $2.50 to $4 and they last for about eight months.”
Armed with these simple ideas, you’ll be able to cut monthly food costs while still enjoying high-quality, delicious meals.