10 Tips for Grocery Shopping on a Budget

Planning your weekly trip to the grocery when trying to stay within a certain budget can sometime be a tedious task. But with proper planning, and following these 10 easy steps, we promise to keep you with food in your kitchen and money in your pocket.

1. Proper Planning
Before you visit the grocery store, you must first create your grocery list. This can be done one of two ways: (a) create a list based off of the items you need or (b) plan out your meals based on that week’s sales and create your list from there, which in turn will actually end up saving you more money. Once you have your list completed, you want to begin looking for coupons. Coupons are readily available online and in your Sunday’s newspaper. You can also really save money and time if you find a store that practices price matching. Sometimes stores offer a percentage back of the price difference if it either meets or beats its competitor’s price tag. Also, when you can, feel free to stock up on items. If your favorite snack is buy on get one free, then make sure that you get the free one. Remember that you can freeze your meats, rice, and breads to keep the freshness longer. If buying in bulk helps with adding savings, see if you can split your purchases with a friend. Most importantly don’t forget to use the store’s savings or rewards card at checkout.

2. Base Your Shopping List Off Of Items In Season
While most foods, especially produce, are available virtually year round, they tend to more inexpensive while they are in season. Make sure that you take full advantage of the savings of seasonal produce by planning meals and shopping with this is mind. For even more savings, shop at your local farmer’s markets. You are benefiting the local growers as well as you are eliminating those additional shipping, processing, and stocking fees. If you are a lover of fruits and vegetables, you may be interested in joining a farmer’s co-op. The membership fee is extremely affordable and seasonal produce arrives to your doorstep or a designated pick-up site. The only downfall is usually you don’t know what fruit you will be getting until it has arrived.

3. Never Shop When You Are Hungry
This is an important rule to remember even if you are not on a budget. When you find yourself shopping while hungry, you cart will begin to get filled with items that are not on you well thought out list. If you shopping after you have eaten or had a light snack, you won’t be as tempted to make purchases that you normally wouldn’t make.

4. At Checkout Pay Attention For Mispriced Items
Often times, products are rung up incorrectly and don’t reflect the advertised sale price. Keep a close eye on the register as each of your items is scanned to insure that you are being charged the correct amount for your purchases. You are guaranteed to catch a few mispriced items every now and then.

5. Substitute Less Expensive Ingredients
Recipes for soups, soufflés, and tarts often call for expensive ingredients like crème fraîche. These expensive ingredients can often be substituted for their less expensive alternates like sour cream. Most expensive items can be substituted, it just takes a little research to figure out what it can be replaced with. This is true for fresh herbs as well as they can be a bit pricey. Dried herbs however, are usually much more potent than fresh, so make sure that you find out the proper measurements substitution as well.

6. Don’t Shy Away From Your List or Your Budget
Next time before heading out to the grocery store, make your list and check it twice. Once you get to the store, resist the temptation of purchasing unneeded items. Most importantly make sure that everything that is on your list is within your budget. If at the checkout you realize that you are over budget, that’s fine, just remove the items that you don’t need this time around and make sure you add them on your next grocery list.

7. Meat Doesn’t Always Make A Meal Better
When budgeting, it is sometimes hard to decide on a variety of meat to purchase as sometimes meat can take up the bulk of your budget. Try out vegetarian meals a couple of times per week. Not only will you add the benefit of eating healthy, but you will also notice a significant amount of savings. Beans, lentils, nuts, and cheese are more affordable than meats, and are an excellent source of protein. Whole grains are a great way to add substance to your meals as well. They will fill you up and take your mind off of the fact that you are consuming a meatless meal. If you are one of those people that can’t live without meat, don’t fret, try cutting down your portion sizes by stewing or braising your meats.

8. Never Buy Pre-Prepped Food
Brands are beginning to take advantage of the idea that we are a fast-paced, fast-moving society by saturating the market with pre-packaged and pre-seasoned foods. While these items are definitely time savers, they are not saving you money. If you want pretzels for your family’s lunch, don’t buy the fun size, purchase the family size bags. A great tip to remember is if you purchase meat in bulk, you can separate them, season or marinate them, and place them in the freezer until they are ready to be cooked to maintain freshness. Most importantly remember that one whole chicken is more inexpensive as pre-cut or pre-trimmed chicken.

9. Don’t Always Be Enticed By Sales
Just because a product is on sale, doesn’t mean that it is the best item for you or your budget. More often than not, the items on sale on usually the more expensive items anyway. The sale price still may not be as affordable as its generic competitor’s. Don’t take coupons or sales for face value. Make sure you compare the details of all sales.

And the number the very last, but most important tip:

10. Always Shop With Cash
The simplest way to stay in budget is to shop with cash to insure that you never go over budget.

If you follow these ten basic rules for grocery shopping on a budget, you will see the immediate affects. You will begin to save money and be on the fast track of managing your finances.