It’s easy to stroll through grocery store aisles and fill your trolley with sale items you don’t really need. Maybe you forgot what you already have in your cupboards, or maybe the sale was just too good to resist. Either way, would you still pick up that block of chocolate if you considered what else you could do with your money if your food bill was a little lower?
With a little planning, you can reduce your food expenditure and ultimately save hundreds of dollars towards your next vacation or to pay off your mortgage. These 7 ways to reduce your food bill are a good place to start.
1. Get Cash Back
One way you can save money on food is by earning points for grocery shopping. With credit card rewards, you get to reduce your food bill without any extra effort. Depending on the items purchased, you can earn up to 6% cashback. Do your research on the best rewards card for you and make a list of the brands or items covered. Take the list with you when you go shopping. As an added bonus, most cashback cards don’t charge annual fees.
2. Plan Your Meals
Advance meal planning is key to lowering your monthly food bill. When you know the items and quantities you need for each meal, you’re less likely to impulse buy. Experienced meal-planners pick a certain day of the week to write down their meal plans for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks and create a shopping list.
It’s most cost effective to plan your meals based on the items already in your cupboard combined with sales you spotted in catalogs. The time you spend planning will ultimately mean time saved doing needless trips to the grocery store for extra items.
3. Create a Shopping List and Stick to It
Once you’ve created a meal plan and shopping list, its important stick to it. Remember to scan your pantry before leaving and don’t go to the store on an empty stomach. These tips will help you stay focused and only buy what you need.
4. Buy In-Season Produce
Fruits and vegetables are cheaper, fresher, healthier, and tastier when bought in season. Don’t pay a fortune for out-of-season strawberries that will go off after a couple of days in your fridge when you can buy an in-season alternative. Sticking to in-season produce also helps to support local farmers.
5. Comparison Shopping
When food shopping on a budget, try out different grocery stores. Most people buy from specific supermarket purely out of habit, which is likely to cost more in the long run. The cost of individual items significantly varies from store to store. Even supermarkets within the same chain offer different prices.
Visiting multiple stores to find the best prices can frustrating at first, but it’s worth the extra cash in your pocket. To reduce frustration, compare prices of products from different stores online and check weekly ads for items on sale at competing supermarkets.
6. Batch Cook in Advance
Cooking meals in batches is a great way to avoid food wastage. It’s also a cost-effective way to take advantage of any buy one, get one free deals.
It’s a lot of fun to have a cook-a-thon day to prepare all of the week’s meals in advance and freeze what you don’t need that day into separate portions. You’ll save money and be so grateful for not having to cook after a long day in the office.
If you don’t like eating the same meal over and over, cook a few versions using the same ingredients, like spaghetti bolognaise and lasagne.
7. Buy Staples in Bulk
Generally, bulk products have lower unit prices. Staple foods include meat, poultry, and non-perishable foods like tinned beans and tomatoes. When bulk buying, it’s handy to first calculate the cost per unit so you know how good of a deal you are getting. More often than not, the bulk price will be the cheaper choice.