Top 10 tips to
save money on groceries

How can you save money on groceries and still enjoy good, easy to cook food at home? Easy if you follow these 10 tips!

1. Plan ahead

Taking the time to plan ahead and work out what you are going to eat in the next few days, can really help you save money on groceries and stick to your budget.

Check your recipe collection and jot down some ideas for your main meals (don't forget the accompaniments). This is actually easier if you can print your recipes from the Internet, rather than looking through cookery books, as you can lay the recipes out in front of you, scribble on them and even take them with you when you go shopping if you wish.

Go through each recipe and add the ingredients to your list. Work out how many onions, for example, you will need or how much rice.

When you get to the shop try to keep to your list, but be flexible. If you had planned to have broccoli with your meal and you see that green beans are a better buy, then you CAN change your mind. Just don't buy the broccoli as well!

2. Time your shopping trip

You are less likely to impulse buy, and find it easier to stick to the list you have prepared, if you do not go shopping when you are hungry.

If you need to purchase perishable goods, such as fruit, vegetables and fresh meat, shopping later in the day can be a good move...

...Fresh food has a short shelf life and the store will not be able to sell it once the sell by date has passed. In order to shift it, they will often reduce the price at the last minute.

Keep in mind that this food will need to be cooked the same day, so don't buy too much, or YOU will end up throwing it away instead of the grocery store.

If you were planning an evening in the kitchen, however, you could buy extra to cook and freeze straight away.

3. Decide where to shop

All the grocery stores or supermarkets want your money! They will reduce prices on certain items, known as loss leaders, to encourage you to do all your shopping in their store.

It can often be worthwhile checking online before you go shopping, to see which store offers the best deal on the things on your food shopping list.

If the stores are close together it can even be worth visiting more than one, to take advantage of these special offers, but do weigh up the cost of traveling between them and the extra time it will take to do this. It is not worth trying to save money on groceries, if you end up spending more on fuel!

Some stores, such as Aldi, reduce their costs by offering their stock straight from the cardboard boxes, rather than stacking them neatly on shelves, as shown by the photo at the top of the page, taken in my local Aldi store. The food is just as good, but you are not paying for the additional staff they would require, and can therefore save lots of money.

4. Watch those pennies

My Mum always used to say "Take care of the pennies, and the pounds (or dollars) will take care of themselves." Of course, she was right, a few pennies saved here and there really do add up.

Help yourself to save money on groceries by adding up what you have spent as you go around the store. If you don't want to make it obvious that you are penny-pinching then instead of a calculator you might want to use your cell phone to do the addition. Chances are that other shoppers will think you are texting a friend.

Another tip I have discovered over the years is to decide how much you can afford to spend before you go into the shop. Then take that amount out of the ATM machine to pay for your groceries, rather than using plastic to pay at the counter. It is surprising how this can keep you on track.

5. Choose own brand products

Many stores offer their own brand products as an alternative to the well known names. These are normally cheaper and the quality is just as good.

6. Buy one get one free

It can be tempting when you see the Buy One Get One Free offers to snatch them up.

But stop for a moment and think about what you are about to do!

  • Is this a product that you use frequently?
  • Will it keep long enough for you to use it all up?
  • Have you got room to store extra quantities?
  • Would you have bought it anyway if it wasn't on special offer?
  • Have you tried it before and know that you like it?

If you can answer yes to these questions, then it may be well be a good way to save money on groceries by taking advantage of the offer.

7. Buying in bulk

In a similar vein to the point above, buying in bulk CAN save you money, but think about your purchase first.

A big bag of rice may be a good investment as it will keep for some time.

But are those large tins of baked beans worth buying? Weight-wise they may be a much better deal, but if you don't use up the whole can at one time will the rest get wasted? If so, then you have spent more than you would have done on a smaller tin.

Non-foods, such as washing powder or toilet rolls, can be worth buying in bulk, as long as you have somewhere to store them. It may cost you a little more at the time than you had budgeted for, but on the next shopping trip you won't need to restock.

8. Grow your own

Seriously, have you ever considered growing your own vegetables? You don't need a huge garden to do this. A few tomato plants in "grow-bags" full of compost outside the door, or a pot of herbs on the windowsill offers you REALLY fresh produce at a fraction of the cost of buying it in the stores.

If you end up with a glut of a particular vegetable you can always swap with a friend or neighbour that has grown something different. Bartering in this manner is an age old method used to save money on groceries.

9. Buy locally and in season

If you can't, or don't want to, grow your own, then think about shopping at local farmer's markets or visiting a "pick your own" venue.

Each country has its own growing season for fruit and vegetables, and buying locally produced goods will ensure that they are fresher. But it also has advantages for your budget. When foods are plentiful the price comes down. If the food is also grown locally there are no additional costs for transporting it long distances.

If the farmer can also save the costs involved in harvesting the food then you can get a real bargain. On top of that, filling up a punnet of freshly picked strawberries, with the occasional one going straight into your mouth, can be a pleasurable way to spend a warm, summer afternoon.

10. Make it yourself

Ready made products will always cost more than making it yourself. You might not have the time or inclination to bake you own cakes, but some things are so quick and easy to create at home, that buying them ready prepared really is wasting money.

Learning to cook your own food, can do the most to help you save money on groceries.

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