You’ll have asked yourself where all your money magically vanishes to, before realising that you’re eating it. Not literally, but the stark realisation that all your money is going straight to food and groceries can be a tough one to swallow.
That doesn’t have to be the case. Here are some ways you can really reduce your grocery bills without having to live off cucumber soup.
#1 Shop big, not often
Don’t fall into the trap of visiting the supermarket on the way home every day. The $10 to 15 here and there will add up and, in the long run, it’ll cost you more than a bigger shop once a week or so. Shopping less frequently will help you learn to be resourceful and crafty with what’s left in your fridge, but also keep track of exactly how much you’re spending on food.
Doing bigger shops also means you can cook big servings in bulk, meaning you’ll have your meals set for a couple of days. Is there any better feeling than opening the fridge and remembering that you’ve already cooked yourself dinner? High five, past you.
#2 Fall in love with markets
Going to the local fruit and veg market isn’t just for Gladys and John, the retired couple with a friendly Labrador. It’s a fun way to spend the weekend, and hands down the best way to save on produce. Not only that, you’ll be supporting local farmers and buying delicious veggies. The Farmers Markets Association has a directory where you can find your local markets if you’re stuck on where to start.
Local fruit and veggie stores will often have great prices all week. Some even bag up veggies that haven’t sold throughout the day and sling them for a gold coin, so visiting them just before they close can be a great way to snag serious bargains.
#3 Cut off those costly items
It sounds simple, but saving money means not spending it. That means that crumbly block of cheese from an island 200km off the shores of Tasmania is staying on the shelf.
If you’re serious about saving, think of the pricier items that can be left off your list. Canned chickpeas or lentils are under a dollar; pasta and rice in bulk won’t break the bank and cans of tuna are a great alternative for overpriced meat.
#4 Never shop when you’re hungry
If you haven’t eaten lunch and you’re feeling peckish, avoid the supermarket. You’ll end up with nothing but 15 packets of Wagon Wheels and a family-size bag of corn chips.
But seriously, there are studies into how shopping when you’re hungry can hinder your decision making process, meaning you’re more likely to opt for higher-calorie options which are often more expensive.
You’ll leave the supermarket having spent way more than you intended, and most likely with more snacks than ingredients. So just don’t do it.
#5 If you can’t meal plan meticulously, just have a few recipes in mind
Unless you’re an organisational queen, having a set meal plan for a whole week in advance can be pretty challenging. But they work for a reason, so it’s good to have a couple of cheap meal ideas in mind when you’re shopping for ingredients.
Having a couple of go-to recipes in your head can help you figure out exactly what ingredients go with what. Cauliflower tastes great with lentils, eggs and asparagus are a winning combo, cottage cheese and rice crackers make for a perfect snack… you get the drift.
Adding a couple of pasta, stir fry and salad dishes to your repertoire can help with this, or have a look around if you need inspiration. This list has more than 100 recipes that are easy and won’t break the bank.
#6 Don’t waste a bite
Tragically, throwing out a mushy bag of spinach or shrivelled up mushrooms can feel like putting your money in the blender. One of the best ways to avoid waste is learning how to store things properly, and this infographic could save your life.
If your food is starting to turn funky, don’t panic – cook it up and leave it in the fridge or freezer. This can squeeze a couple of extra days out of it. Buying your produce before its fully ripened can help make it last longer too.
Food doesn’t have to be the place your money is mysteriously vanishing to. Be smart with your grocery shopping, and your budget will thank you.
Article courtesy of The Cusp