Today, nothing is free and everything else is expensive – especially food – so we need to learn how to shop smart. Here are some tips on how to save money on food shopping:
1. Eat healthy. It’s true! While many of us may think that healthy food – such as specialty shakes and organic veggies – are more expensive, the fact is that when we reduce our calories and avoid junk food, our food expenses go down.
This fact is supported by a study published in 2002 in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association. The researchers found that when people went on a low-calorie diet, the amount of money they spent on groceries decreased as well.
Of course, we all know that veggies are cheaper than chips, and water is cheaper than soda.
While fruit may sometimes sound expensive, you’ll notice that a pound of fruit makes a lot of servings, and if you divide the cost per serving, you’ll see that peaches are still much more reasonably priced than donuts.
2. Try out lesser known brands. After all, just how much difference can there be in the taste of a branded cup of yogurt versus an unbranded one? The price difference, though, may be significant.
You may also want to look at things from an economist’s viewpoint: This branded cheese costs 50% more than the unbranded one. Does it give you at least 50% more satisfaction when you eat it? If it doesn’t, then it’s not worth buying the more expensive brand.
3. Plan in advance and make a list. This is a classic tip, but so many people ignore it, so we’ll say it again: Make a list!
Remember that grocery store shelves are designed to tempt your eyes and invite you to buy as many things as possible. When you see something on the shelves, you think you need it, and then you buy it.
But if you had made a list, you would realize that if that item was not important enough for you to remember it when you were making the list, then it probably really wasn’t all that important in the first place.
So we’ll say it one more time: Make a list!
4. Just bring cash. Nearly all of us said to ourselves the first time we got a credit card, “It’s for emergency use only.” Then we start using it for groceries. When did strawberry jam ever qualify as an emergency item?
Even if you had made a list, it could still be too tempting to ignore that list the moment you enter the store door. But if you know you only have enough cash to purchase the items in your list and you don’t have a card to back you up, then you won’t need too much willpower to stick to your budget.
5. Take advantage of discounts. Once in a while, grocery stores place “buy 1, take 1” items on their shelves. Why not take advantage of a sale like that? Yes, it’s okay to purchase these items, as long as (1) they’re on your list and (2) the expiration dates are reasonable.
Remember, it’s no bargain if you buy something you don’t need or if you are unable to use it because it expired before you could open the can.
6. Buy frozen, canned, or dried. Not only are they cheaper, they may even be safer and healthier. Freezing retains the nutrients of food – nutrients that could quickly decompose if the food is left at room temperature.
Canned food are less likely to cause food poisoning than fresh food, as long as the canning process is done correctly, because canning creates a sterile environment, while food left in open air can easily grow bacteria.
Drying tends to make food more flavorful, so you need to eat less to get the same amount of satisfaction.
Most certainly, food is something we can’t do without. We need to spend for it, inevitably. But with a little know-how, we can cut our food costs so that we have money left to enjoy the other fine things in life with the budget that our current economy gives us.