Besides homes and cars, when I chat with families about their finances, I notice that their next biggest expense by far is food. And while grocery shopping is a necessity for most people, the problem for many of us is that our grocery runs aren’t effective or efficient.
We buy too much of some stuff, waste others (it was on sale!), and still buy something to eat on the way home because we’re stressed out and need something quick for dinner.
The good news is that you can have your cake and eat it too. Here are some crucial things you can do to make sure you’re saving on your grocery bills and eating well.
Meal Plan for the Week
One of the easiest ways you can make sure your grocery runs stick to your budget is to have a plan. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Just set aside 15 minutes or so and look at what meals you want to have during the upcoming week.
I do my grocery run Sunday mornings, so Saturday night I jot down some ideas on what we’d like to have and all of the related ingredients. This minimizes unnecessary purchases and helps me focus on what I actually need at the grocery store versus what I think I should get.
Shop Seasonally for Produce
Fresh produce can liven up any meals, but depending on what you buy and when you buy it, these items can be pretty pricey.
If you shop seasonally, you’ll get a variety of vegetables and fruits that are typically much lower in price because the supply is higher than the demand. Keeping things local also save you money since transportation is minimal (plus it’s a boost for the environment!).
Fill in Gaps with Frozen Vegetables
Many families don’t have that much time to make frequent trips to the store to get food when its fresh, so the next best option is to buy things frozen. Save money by waiting for sales and then get a few staples to keep on hand when fresher ingredients aren’t an option. You can also shop for items when they’re in season and stick them in the freezer for use later on (like when you’re craving a strawberry smoothie in the middle of winter).
Bulk Buy Wisely
Here’s where a little extra effort can go a long way. Once you’ve gotten comfortable planning your meals ahead of time, you’ll start noticing you have certain favorite dishes.
Depending on the food, you may save significant money by purchasing in bulk, allocating what you need into smaller portions, and then freezing the leftovers.
Grow Your Food
Nope, you don’t have to go all out and start a family garden or farm. Even growing a few of your favorite herbs indoors by the window can step up your cooking game and save you a few bucks.
This has helped us improve the quality of our meals and makes cooking a little more fun when we get to use something we’ve grown ourselves. Plus, having a little green thumb never hurt anybody!
Thoughts on Cutting Your Grocery Bills
I’d love to get your take. How do you keep your grocery bills in check?
What are some of your favorite meals to prepare? What tool in the kitchen makes things easier for you?