Creating a household budget to save money can be tedious and overwhelming. Many people feel like they're overspending- but can't exactly pinpoint where the money is going. If this is you, grocery shopping could be the culprit. Perhaps you find yourself aimlessly wandering aisles, picking up things you didn't plan to get and don't need. You might even be going to the store more often than you need to. These three tips will help you buy more efficiently and save money on groceries.
Know When to Buy in Bulk
Buying in bulk is a great way to save money on groceries- when done right. It all comes down to the math: how much you're paying for a single unit of a product. Bulk buying usually means that you can get a product for less per unit, although you'll be paying more for the entire purchase.
But not all items should be bought in bulk. Produce that goes bad quickly is definitely something to avoid. Nuts, seeds, oatmeal, and brown rice also have shorter shelf lives than you might expect- unless you're confident that you can finish off the bulk amount before they go bad, stick to smaller quantities. Here is a short list of items you can safely buy in bulk that will definitely help you save money on groceries.
- Toilet paper
- Shampoo & Conditioner
- Uncooked Pasta
- Trash bags
- Dried beans
While this requires a little more work upfront, it'll save you lots of time and money in the long run. Mark out a time in your calendar once a week, right before you do your major grocery shopping when you'll sit down and plan your meals for the next seven days. Decide which recipes you'd like to make and how long they'll last you. You can save money on groceries by choosing recipes that overlap in ingredients and use in-season produce. Then create a list of all the groceries you'll need.
When you go to the store or shop online, stick to the list. Over time, you'll develop a sense of how much it costs you to buy a week's worth of groceries. The key is to only go grocery shopping once a week, and always go with a list. This will prevent you from buying items you don't need or things that you might not end up using that will go to waste.
Do Your Own Food Prep
Buying food items as close to their natural state as possible will help you save money. Skip the pre-washed bagged lettuce and kale and instead buy them by the bunch. You can also save money on cheese by buying it in a block instead of shredded or grated versions. With a good grater at home, you can shred your cheese as needed. Store it in your fridge and you'll be able to make a large block of cheese last.
When it comes to beans, opt for dried rather than canned. Canned beans have a lot more sodium, and rinsing them leeches out some of their nutrients as well. Dried beans will keep for a lot longer, as well. When you want to cook with them, you can soak them overnight or cook them in an Instant Pot before using them in a dish.
Cook From Scratch
This is one of the best ways to save money on groceries. Stay away from frozen dinners, premade pastas, and baking mixes. Home-cooked meals are healthier and more cost-effective, especially when you've got leftovers. If you don't love cooking or are really busy, find ways to make it as hands-off as possible. Slow cookers are a great investment- you can throw your ingredients in and let them cook for several hours while you go about your day. There are hundreds of recipes available as well, so you'll never run out of inspiration. You can also cook a lot of food at once and enjoy leftovers for the next few days, no cooking required.