How do you spend the right amount on groceries?
According to an online survey of more than 1,000 people published in October by LendingTree and Qualtrics, weekly grocery bills in the US rose an average of 17 percent last year from before the pandemic. Thirty-one percent of respondents said they “almost always overpay” in the grocery store.
No matter how big or small your grocery budget is, you can rest assured and keep your overall spending on track. Whether it’s your first time to come up with a grocery budget or looking to return to one, here are strategies that can help you save money in your kitchen and grocery store.
Plan simple meals, light meats, and dairy products.
Cooking doesn’t have to mean hovering over a stove for hours or creating complex meal plans. Cooking involves frying some garlic in oil and then adding canned tomatoes instead of opening a jar of pasta sauce. Not only do you save money, but you also have more control over your health. Meat and dairy products are expensive. So plan more meals using them for flavor rather than bulk, enjoy more vegetables and fruits in their many affordable forms, and keep meals simple so you don’t burn yourself out while cooking.
Rely on cheap, flexible staples.
Consider inexpensive staples like rice, pasta, oats, bread, canned and dried beans, canned tomatoes, and eggs: how do they already play a part in your routine? Then think about what you can easily get hold of. You should discover a solid Venn diagram showing the meals that you can make more frequently. Start by digging into the basics that make up your fundamentals. (You can find branded or cheaper versions of these staples down or up on store shelves. See what savings you get.) As you get more comfortable, go further. If you usually enjoy a lamb and sausage rice dish, can you try chickpeas and half of the sausage this week? Cheap staples are a starting point, not a cage.
Include vegetables: fresh, frozen, and canned.
When you use meat and dairy products more sparingly, relying on vegetables and fruits to improve the taste. Eating more products can sound expensive or labor intensive, but that’s not a certainty. Canned fruits and vegetables and frozen vegetables don’t have to be of inferior quality. Canned pumpkin is mashed and ready to make a silky soup for half the cost and effort of a fresh pumpkin. Frozen fruits and vegetables are often chopped without the markup you see on pre-cut fresh versions.
And no matter how careful you are as a meal planner, you will have times when something you bought with the best of intentions has passed its prime. Find a recipe that requires you to throw almost anything in, such as: B. a soup, a stew or a pan. Think of leftovers and products from the past as an asset rather than a liability.
Choose versatility by learning the basics.
You can save money by eating a smaller selection of foods in a given week, but if you stick to the eclectic things it won’t get boring. Cut out single-use items unless they are important to you (save the hot sauce). A cake mix is limited and costs more, while flour, sugar, and baking soda offer limitless options. Yoghurt with one serving costs more and can only be eaten as it is, while plain yoghurt can be eaten with a strudel of honey for breakfast, made into a sauce, baked into a tea cake or added to smoothies.
Let the seasons be an inspiration.
When planning your grocery shopping, stay open to the changing seasons to create natural diversity and vibrancy at no additional cost. Fruits and vegetables are usually cheaper in season – think of the midsummer four-for-a-dollar deals on corn on the cob. If you have the space and time, freeze or you can get the bounty. But don’t think that you have to plan hundreds of new menus every time the wind changes. Let the seasons be an inspiration, not a burden.
Limit prepackaged snacks.
If you have a snack in between or instead of meals, keep in mind that packaged snacks get expensive. This also applies to drinks. Limiting the snacks and drinks you prepare can be one of the fastest ways to get a grocery bill that is easy to breathe. If you need help reducing this, think about your pleasure to versatility ratio. Kombucha isn’t all that versatile, but it may be your only way to get through the long afternoons. Plan for that if you can.
But keep the goodies.
For some, the pleasure of saving money on your own is enough; The lack of worry creates the motivation to move on. For most of us, eating is a pleasure and a connection. So don’t budget pleasure from the picture. If you had dessert and a glass of wine with a friend on Friday night, consider an inexpensive substitute, such as: B. a piece of chocolate and a cup of chamomile tea.
Leanne Brown is the author of Good and Cheap and Good Enough (January 2022).