Food is essential. Everyone on this planet earth has to do it and there is no exception for it. As you might already know I have a family of 6 members…. and we go big when we do groceries shopping. Groceries (alongside with the car payment and gas) are one of our biggest expenses in the household. I always allocate in my budget as I can for groceries shopping, simply because I want to make sure my family never run short on food. Also, cooking our own food is just so much less expensive than eating out.
Whether my readers have bigger or smaller families, going groceries shopping is thought I’d pass along some of my favourite tips that I’ve picked up over the years from magazines, books and websites and these are the best of them, plus some I’ve figured out on my own. I hope this will be useful for your family too.
- Make a checklist. Simple yet powerful. If you go without a list, you will end up throwing your money away on unwanted stuff that isn’t needed at home. So before you leave home, take a quick check on your cupboard, refrigerator or pantry to confirm the food that you are running low on. It’s best to make a weekly/monthly reminder on your phone so you will not end up forgetting anything.
- Have a budget. When I go to the store, I know exactly how much I can spend. Then I try my best to stick within that limit. If you want to stay within your budget, it’s best to know where you’re at. Then, when you can see you’re going to go above your expenses, you can decide whether you really need that biscuit box. I keep a running tally on my grocery list, just rounding off so I can do some quick math. An item costs $1.55? I say $2. Then I don’t need a calculator or all those complicated math skills.
- Go for frozen veggies. While fresh veggies are a little better, frozen veggies are almost as good, and much better than nothing. And since you can keep them in the freezer, they rarely go bad.
- Cut back on meat. Meat is expensive. My family have vegetarian meals several times a week (Indian Thaali meals) and for other meals, you could just use a little meat as a kind of seasoning instead of the main ingredient. Actually, I eat vegetarian all the time.
- Clip coupons. I know, sometimes they seem like too much trouble. But it’s not really that hard to clip a few coupons and toss them in a coupon envelop to take on your grocery shopping trip. And you can save 10-20% of your bottom line with coupons. Check store entrances and flyers for coupons.
- When there’s a sale, stock up. Sale items can be a great deal. If it’s an item you normally use, buy a bunch of them.
- Sugar cereals are a bad buy. Lots of money for no nutrition. Look for whole grain cereals with low sugar. Add fruit for better flavor.
- Try the store brands. Brand names are often no better than generic, and you’re paying for all the advertising they do to have a brand name. Give the store brand a try, and often you won’t notice a difference. Especially if it’s an ingredient in a dish where you can’t taste the quality of that individual ingredient.
- Keep things stocked for quick-n-easy meals. Easy meals for us might be spaghetti or mac-n-cheese or a quick stir-fry. We’ve always got the ingredients on hand, so we can whip something up fast when we’re feeling lazy.
- Don’t buy junk food (or buy as little as possible). Junk food not only costs a lot of money for about zero nutrition, but it makes you and your family fat and kills you. Talk about a bad deal! Opt for fruits and veggies instead.
- Stick to your list. Avoid impulse buys. They are almost always bad, and even if it’s just a couple dollars, they will add up to $50-100 for a trip. Over the course of a year, that can mean thousands. Tell yourself you will not buy anything that’s not on your list unless it’s an absolute necessity (why isn’t wholegrain cereal on my darn list?).
- Get cloth grocery bags. You’ll save tons of plastic over time, and help the environment tremendously.
So these are a few of my essential groceries shopping to-do before I head to the grocer store. I hope this helps you as much as it helps me.