Groceries are something that we all buy often yet most of us probably spend more money on it than we need to. There are many money saving tips out on Pinterest about saving money with coupons and cashback schemes. This can be very effective however for many of us these methods are too time-consuming and require too much effort to keep up over time. That’s why I have come up with 5 tips to save money on groceries that don’t require a lot of effort or couponing.
Here are my 5 mindful ways to save money on groceries without using coupons.
1. Shop your pantry
Saving money on groceries starts at home before you go to the store! Over time, most of us end up accumulating a lot of ingredients in our pantries and in our freezers that we easily forget about. You may not think that you have much food in your kitchen for a proper meal but if you search around and get creative with ingredients, you may be able to save a lot of money on your groceries just by using items that you already have.
In order to prevent fridge items from going off before you have time to use them, dedicate a specific shelf in your fridge just for expiring items (items that have expired or will expire in the next day or two). Then, make sure to go through your fridge every couple of days and move expiring items to this shelf so you know to include these in your meals. This way, you can use the ingredients on this shelf to plan your meals around and decrease your food waste.
2. Shop for ingredients, not recipes
Are you cooking the same recipes all of the time and shopping for ingredients based on your favourite recipes? Whilst having your favourite go-to recipes can be easy and save you a lot of decision-making, it is really easy to forget to consider the prices of the ingredients you use on a regular basis because buying them is a habit. However, if you think about it you might be able to make really delicious recipes using cheaper ingredients than you are now.
That is why I recently started to approach grocery shopping differently. Instead of planning out specific meals and buying ingredients for those meals, I started to buy cheap ingredients and create meals out of those items. To make sure that I get balanced meals, I always try to buy a few different whole grains (brown rice, whole-wheat pasta, quinoa), a few different protein sources (lentils, chickpeas, black beans, tofu) and a range of healthy and seasonal vegetables and fruit. All of these ingredients are both cheap and healthy so it’s really easy to create good meals out of them. I also like to keep cheap ingredients like spices, stock cubes and tinned chopped tomatoes on hand to add flavour to these meals.
Another benefit of this system is that you get more varied meals because your meals will depend upon which ingredients you have at home. You’re also less likely to waste food because you can use different ingredients for many different meals whereas if you meal plan by recipe you may have an ingredient that is wasted because it is only used in one recipe.
3. Make a list (and stick to it)
This might be the most obvious point on this list but it’s worth mentioning anyway. Before you go food shopping you want to have a clear list of things you want to buy before going to the store. That way you know what you need to buy to stay under budget and how much you need for the week.
When you go to the store with your list, try to only grab things that are on the list. You may be tempted to buy other products when you see them in store but if your goal is to save money on groceries then these extra items can really add up and prevent you from reaching your goals.
If you find yourself going for items not on your list ask yourself these questions. Do we already have this product or an equivalent to it at home? Do we really need this product? What else could we do with the money that this item costs (savings, pay off debt)? Is there a cheaper alternative? As long as you remember to be mindful and ask yourself these questions, you can easily save a lot of money each month, simply by not buying things you don’t need.
4. Avoid sale items
Okay, this one might seem a bit counter-intuitive and there certainly are times where sale items are great to buy. If a product that you use all the time is on sale then that’s great and it’s a good idea to stock up on that product. However, if you see something on sale that you’d never buy otherwise, stay away from it! Why? Because even though the item is on sale, you are still losing money. Additionally, you may not even end up using it if it’s not part of your regular shopping.
Many people buy sale items regularly, thinking that they’re saving money but unless you’re sure that you’ll use it it’s probably better to leave that sale item on the shelf.
Another thing to be aware of is that a sale item is not always the cheapest option available. A more expensive brand product on sale might still be a lot more expensive than a generic brand item. That’s why you should always check the price per unit of measurement (g, l, kg depending on what the item is). This price/unit is always displayed somewhere on the shelf tag and you can save a lot of money simply by taking a few seconds to check for the lowest price/unit of products you buy regularly.
5. Skip the meat
If you’re already vegan or vegetarian then you’re probably already saving a lot of money each month! If you’re not, you might want to consider trying meat-less Mondays which is where people chose one day a week (usually Mondays) to not eat any meat. No matter which store you buy it in, meat is very expensive and by cutting down on the amount that you eat each week you can save a lot of money on your groceries.
If you need examples of healthy food items to eat that are healthy and vegan check out this post where I list 10 things that I eat every day »
There you have it! These are my top 5 tips for mindful ways to save money on groceries. What are your best tips for saving money on groceries? Let me know in the comments below. Thank you for reading! xxx