Now We're Cooking

12 Tips for Shopping on a Budget

Credit: Thinkstock

In today’s fast-paced society, food, especially of the healthy nature, tends to become an afterthought of a busy day. Because of the convenience and accessibility of, and to, fast food restaurants, some people have become subject to avoiding groceries stores as well as cooking to recapture the one thing we all wish we had more of: TIME.

However, there are things that we can do in our everyday lives to maximize our time, save a few dollars, make our grocery store trips more efficient, and provide our families with healthier food options.

Here are a few “Shopping on a Budget” tips that can lead you in the right direction:

1. Plan ahead-By planning what you want to eat a week ahead of time, it helps you “zero in” on what to look for on your grocery store trip, versus going “off the cuff” and aimlessly filling up your cart.
2. Check sales papers, clip coupons, and try to only buy what’s on sale-Hey, everyone could stand to save a few bucks. When buying what’s on sale (especially if it’s a clearance item), ensure that you check the expiration dates, as sometimes stores place certain items on sale because they are on their “way out” aka about to lose their freshness.
3. Shop more often for perishables –If you are only shopping once per week, some perishable items can go bad in that time. I’d suggest that you shop once per week or so for your main items (including some perishable items), and make a quick extra trip mid-week for the rest.
4. Eat before you shop –There are few things (including Waka Flocka albums) that are worse than shopping on an empty stomach, as you will be more tempted to fit EVERYTHING in your cart to satisfy your immediate hunger.
5. Shop by yourself –Friends and children can lead to distractions, consequently increasing chances of impulse buying.
6. Bring your own bags – Some stores give discounts to customers who bring their own bags, and some charge you extra to provide plastic bags.
7. Buy and experiment with generic brands (sometimes!) – A lot of generic brands are very comparable in quality, and cheaper, than a lot of national brands. The key is to DO YOUR RESEARCH!!
8. Read the unit price – Most stores have the unit price (generally price per ounce) written next to the price tag. While comparing items of different brands, etc., read this to get a better idea of how far your money is going.
9. Buy food in season – When you do this, not only do you get food that is at its peak (and generally locally), it’s generally cheaper than when not in season.
10. Stock up and INVEST IN A DEEP FREEZER – When items that you really like are on sale, take advantage of the price by stocking up. A deep freezer can save you LOADS of money by filling it up with these sale items. Ensure that before you put items in the freezer that you portion them off according to how you eat/family size, put the items in a freezer bag, not a storage bag, and put the date on it.
11. Get a store card – Most stores have a “Preferred/Loyalty” customer card that will save you more money than not having one (plus they are typically free).
12. Buy beans – Look around you: See any obese people? (Admit it, you do.) As a country, we eat WAAAAAAY too much red meat. Beans are a great substitute for meat, providing our bodies with the protein we seek from meat, and also providing us with a good amount of fiber.