REDUCE YOUR FOOD BILL BY 1/2 WITH THESE 10 TIPS!
Updated: Oct 7, 2022
Do you have to be poor in order to want to save money?
Money is a resource that helps you live comfortably. And "Food" gives you energy and helps you not get sick. I believe that money spent on food is money worth spending. But I don’t think you need to spend all your money just to eat. There are other important aspects in your life that also require money. So spending the right amount of money on food is an important skill that helps balance the resources in your life.
Here are some tips to help you! 😉
1. Check out all grocery markets in your area
Before you start eating less and buying less to save money, remember that the place you shop decides what you can buy and how much you save. There are many grocery stores in America. Each store has products that are cheaper, and ones that are more expensive. Each store has its own marketing plan, such as coupons, weekly discounts, buy 1 get 1 promotion, or the whole store can be a discount store where everything is cheaper. So grab a friend and go to the grocery stores around you! Look at the prices and the discounts. See the products’ quality and their prices. After that, you can better plan your grocery trips.
2. Make a list
Making a list is boring... But planning your favorite meal is not! Having something to look forward to makes shopping and planning become a journey. Think of one food product and consider, “ What would be a nice and easy dish to make with that?”. If you can’t think of any, you can search on Google. Pick one or two dishes you could make with that product. Then write down what you need. If there is something you have that is similar to the item in the recipe, you can note that and not buy the new item. If you don’t like something, you can put in something similar that you do like. Making quick decisions when you write your list makes it easier for you when you go shopping. When you shop, having too many questions in your head makes you want to buy the item and be done. When you cook, if you have to cook with unfamiliar items all the time, it makes you dislike cooking. So make grocery shopping and cooking less hard for yourself by having specific goals (the meal) and don’t use random ingredients all the time.
3. “Meal prepping”
What is the goal of meal prep? To save time on cooking and use all the products you bought. But how do we prep and what do we prep? Do we make the same dish and change the seasoning or the sauce and eat that for 7 days? This could work for some of us but not all of us. I prefer to prepare the base of similar dishes and make them as I go. For example, I would buy broccoli and chicken along with other ingredients that I like and go well with them. I then prepare them so that they can be made into different dishes. Broccoli could be washed and cut and steamed. Steamed broccoli can be eaten right away, seasoned and grilled, or put in last in a stir-fry dish. Chicken could be divided into portions, seasoned with salt and garlic (or your favorite seasoning), and put in the freezer. Then the frozen chicken with simple seasoning can be put in soup, stir-fry, or stew. The idea is to process what you know takes the most time. And then at night, I would cook different dishes based on what I have in the fridge and make enough for dinner and the next day’s lunch. The meal prepping helps me cut prepping time and cooking time from 1 hour to 20 min. It also helps me want to cook because all the long process is already done.
4. Set a budget
Setting a grocery budget is confusing because some weeks you will need to buy more if things run out and some you will buy less. So how does one set a budget? Well, the goal of the budget is to use just the right amount of money for you to buy food. In order to have a budget, you ought to find out what you eat and how much money you usually spend.
For the first 2 grocery trips, don’t set a budget yet. Buy what you need and keep the receipt. After you finished eating food from the 2 trips, take out your receipt and see what you have finished and what’s left. See what you end up eating and what you haven’t touched since you bought it. See how much of the long-term staple products like rice, pasta, oil, and vinegar you end up using.
From these activities, you can now roughly see your eating habits. Then ask the sisters and brothers who have lived here how much money they spent a month on groceries. From that, evaluate how much money is enough and set a monthly budget. Having a set monthly budget and then loosely dividing them into weekly budgets work well because you can spend more or less in a week depending on what food product you finished.
5. Grocery apps
There is an app for everything!! Many grocery stores like Kroger and Walmart now have apps where you can search what they sell and its price, find out what the newest discounted products are, and pin coupons to save money. This also worked for many drugstores like CVS and Walgreens. In the app, you can compare prices and see customer reviews to see what is the best choice. You can check if a store has your item. You will also have access to the latest discounts and be the first to grab them before they sell out. All you do is download the app for your grocery store, sign up, browse, clip/pin coupons, and scan your code in the app.
6. Cashback app
In addition to the store app, you can use a cashback app like Ibotta to save more money on your grocery bill. Download the app, sign up, and start saving! In the app, search for the store you are going to, click on it, and see what cashback is available. Find the item you need, clip or save the one you like, buy the item, then upload the receipt to the app. You can also buy first and then scan the product barcode, select the deals that come up, and upload the receipt. If you have some time and really want that cashback then uses the planning method. If you just wanna save a little more, buy and then scan. Either way, you are getting that cash back!
7. Veg eat now and Veg eat anytime
Vegetables go bad quickly! When you buy vegetables and bring them home, they will stay good for an amount of time, and then they will go bad. What's confusing is they all have different times. Vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower stay good for a week or two while lettuce barely lasts the week. Remember this when you go food shopping. When I moved to America, I went from a culture that goes grocery shopping every day at 6 am to one that buys groceries once a week or two weeks so their time matters to me. Many of you might also choose to shop less but bigger trips like me to save time and energy and get better deals. When doing so, divide your vegetable list into 2 small sections: veg eat now and veg eat later. Doing this will help you not buy vegetables that you have to finish right away and then not have enough vegetables and have to buy more, thus spending more money than you want.
8. Buy fruits with diff ripeness
Many fruits continue to ripen after they are picked. And again, we don’t want to buy things just to feed our trash can😢. Buy fruits with different ripeness and eat the delicious ones first! As you finish the delicious ones, the other ones will be perfect for you to enjoy. You can also buy fruits like how you buy vegetables because fruits also have different stay-good times.
9. Buy big with your friends
In America, many items are cheaper when you buy a lot of them. But you are just one person and probably don’t need that much. That’s where friends come in! If you see something that sells really cheap in big quantity or amount, text your friends and see if they also want that. You and your friends can pay together and divide the items. It’s a win-win situation!
10. Never shop with an empty stomach
This is one that many of you already know and it’s famous for a reason. When you are hungry, things that you have never eaten and even hate might look like the best thing to buy. From experience, this never ended well for me😂. So eat some food before you go to the grocery store and be an independent and confident shopper that won’t be seduced into buying weird food.
I hope these tips help you understand a bit more about grocery shopping and budgeting. Just like how we study to become great students and adults, I believe everyone should learn more about how to live well. And grocery shopping, although simple and plain, is one of the bases that make up our lives. By putting my past experiences and knowledge into 1 blog post, I hope to save you time, energy, and money and allow you to further develop your life into the bright future that you want. Thank you for reading and I look forward to seeing your great future!