I have mostly posted on my fitness and healthy lifestyle, but my budget is always on my mind. I have budgeted to spend no more than $40 a week on food while I am in town, this includes going out to eat. I have been pretty good about sticking to this. Here are some of the key principles I follow to keep within $40 a week:
- Plan out your meals. This is the most important task I do to save money. If I did not have a plan I would not know what to shop for and would likely end up buying more than I really need. I make a weekly meal plan and, as I have said in the What I Eat post, I typically just eat the same meals all week to save time and money. At the moment I do not have the time to cook something different each night of the week, not to mention it would cost too much to make a different dish for one every night of the week.
- I plan out meals based off what I already have in the pantry. If you already have some of the ingredients that means you have fewer things to purchase. Plus, I feel like this keeps things from being forgotten about and potentially going bad. Even a bag of dry chickpeas and canned tuna have expiration dates.
- I plan out meals based off what is on sale. I like to check my local advertisements each week to see what produce is in season and ingredients I might be able to include that are discounted that week. Especially, if I am going to buy meat or fish! Meat and fish are typically the most expensive ingredient in a recipe, so make sure you are getting it at the best price possible.
- I DO NOT buy unnecessary items for that week. Make a list of what you need for your meals and snacks, then stick to it! If you see something at the grocery store that you just have to try, make note of it for next time to include in your meal plan. I know this can be particularly true at Trader Joe’s with all the new items they have coming in seasonally. Remember, you have a list that fits within your budget. Adding one or more things could put you over budget and if you make a habit of this you will not be able to save as much money as you allocated. This hurts future you, do not do this to yourself.
- I hit up my local farmer’s market. Farmer’s markets have amazing deals on produce and more! Last weekend I got 12 medium sized peaches for $2.50, 6 cucumbers for $2.25 and a 5 lb zucchini for $1. I will be making loads of zucchini bread with it, as well as some delicious omelets!
- I do a price comparison when possible. If you have the time and you shop at more than one grocery store, you have the potential to save some money by comparing prices on items you regularly buy. You can also compare the prices for items on sale at multiple stores by comparing the ads each week. Now most people do not have the time to be driving all over town for one item here, 3 there and so on. So my strategy is to look for the grocery store I will save the most at according to the ads and go there. I usually try to go to only one place, but I know the prices at my local Trader Joe’s very well and pass by one everyday. So I may also stop at Trader Joe’s for the items that I just know are cheaper there.
- Consider buying in bulk. There are 2 ways to do this:
- I purchase items from the bulk bins at the grocery store that I am either just trying for the first time or I know I will not use enough of before it expires. This way I can purchase exactly what I need and be done with it.
- The items I consistently use (oats, quinoa, chickpeas, flax seed, nut butters, ezekiel bread, frozen peas, frozen corn, leafy greens, avocados, etc.) I like to buy in bulk at Costco once a month. The membership is $55 per year, but I have actually saved so much that next year I will likely take advantage of the executive membership to get 2% cash back on my purchases. I have done the math on this. However, know you can buy some things in bulk at places like Target, your local grocery store and GFS, but I was not seeing enough of what I was looking for at these locations. Now, it is essential to price compare with buying in bulk. There are items I have found to be cheaper per unit or ounce at my regular grocery store.
If you have any money saving tips on grocery shopping to add, please comment below! I am always looking to improve my thrifty ways 🙂