It has been almost 3 years since I took on this adventure of blogging. It is amazing how quickly time has gone by and how much has changed. I have moved to a different country, had a baby girl and so many other little things have changed it is like reading about a different person when I looked through my old posts. So it is no wonder that a few days ago I was sat with a mug of tea, staring at my homepage and asking myself “What is it I want for my blog?”. Blogging is not an easy task, it takes a lot of time and effort and there are moments that I wonder why I take on the additional stress. So what do I really want to say, is it just an outlet to share recipes? That is sort of what it has become and that isn’t a bad thing just that I have more I feel I want to share. This blog started out as a way for me to share in the journey of watching our budget but slowly over time I have drifted away from that. But I am starting to realize that I have more I want to say and share but sometimes I get so excited about this topic that I am so passionate about that I don’t feel I come across clear enough. So I am going to try and rein in my excitement and give focused advice and I am going to start by sharing with you 10 of my top tips for saving money on your food shopping.
1. Write a menu for the week before you make your shopping list-
This step alone can save you so much more time and money then you might thing. It might seem like a daunting task to do but trust me you will save time and money because dinner is no longer a guessing game and you will spend less time browsing in the store because you already know what you are cooking for the week.
2. Make a list and stick to it-
Now this one might seem like a no brainer but you would be surprised at how many people tell me that they might write down a few items on a list but that for the most part they just ‘go shopping’. That is one of the biggest ways to over spend in the supermarket. Without a list you are more tempted to buy more then you need. When you are making your list make sure to look at your store cupboard so that you don’t end up buying things you already have.
3. Shop on a full stomach-
Shopping when you have the munchies is the worse! Being hungry can encourage you to buy things that you don’t need just because it sounds good. Don’t let your stomach control your wallet.
4. If you don’t need it to look at it-
If you don’t need any snack foods then why are you wandering down that aisle, it is too tempting to buy things you don’t need if you go down the isles and browse. Stay focused. Stores purposely design their shops to try to encourage you to walk up and down each isle because it is their goal for you to BUY. Also don’t be fooled by displays at the end of the isles with promotions. Often these are promotions that the brands have pushed and it isn’t always the best deal in the store.
5. Choose generic-
Brand shopping is an easy way to waste money. Most store branded items are just as good and we have found in some cases we prefer them. For example we love some store brands of granola cereal more then the Branded versions.
6. Buy less prepackaged-
It seems so much easier, just go pick up the package of ready sliced or ready prepared and you are done. But there is a large amount of money that is being wasted because of our need for convenience. Instead take a look at the stores deli meat counter, they often have in-store prepared meat that they will slice for you that is cheaper then if you bought the ready sliced packages. And if you are lucky it is often roasted in the store and not water packed so it is fresher and healthier. Seriously have you ever looked at the sodium levels in pre-packaged lunch meat!!
7. Buy and cook in bulk-
There are so many recipes that you can make in bulk and freeze for later on. So when you are shopping for things like meat look at some of the larger packages of meat and see if you can get a better deal. If you don’t want to cook it all in one go you can re-package it at home to freeze individually.
8. Use coupons wisely-
In the past I talked about using coupons and I am still a big advocate for doing so, however I want to stress how important it is to make sure you are actually getting a deal. Ask yourself, is it actually cheaper to buy this product with the coupon or can I buy the generic brand without the coupon and still spend less. This is something I discovered when I was using coupons, more often then not if I just bought the store brand I would spend less then if I used the coupons. And even more importantly did you even plan or need the item that you have the coupon for. It is no good saving money if it is a product that you probably wouldn’t buy in the first place.
9. Don’t look at the price look at the unit price (gram, kilo, ounce)-
It is a very common mistake to think when shopping on a budget “What’s the cheapest way to get all the things I want?”. Instead ask “What’s the best value for money I can get?” Oh but this package of rice pilaf is only .99 that is cheaper then that bag of rice that is 1.40. But think about it, that package of rice will feed your family for 1 meal the bag of rice could feed your family every day for a week. That means you save yourself almost £6. That adds up over time, trust me. Yes it takes longer then 5 minutes in the microwave but rice is so simple to make that it can be worth it if you just give yourself the 20 min. Start the rice first while you prep the rest of dinner, or throw a load of laundry in the washer what ever it takes to get rid of the I don’t have time excuse.
10. Find ethnic stores in your area-
This one might seem odd but it can save you money if you do a little research. Most areas have ethnic grocery stores, even if you are sure that you don’t. So some research for Asian or Middle Eastern stores around you and try to do your shopping there for bulk items such as rice, oil, noodles and some spices. I buy my olive oil in a large 5 Litre container that I use to refill my Oil pourer. It costs me around £7 where buying olive oil at the store I would spend about £3 for a 1 Litre bottle. I do a lot of asian cooking so I buy all of my asian spices and sauces, soy sauce costs 1/3 of the price at my asian market compared to the regular grocery store. But a word of caution with this advice. You can quickly lose what you saved if you have to drive around looking for things, only do this if your store is a reasonable distance, even better if it is on the way to something else that you might need to go to.