A good way to lower your monthly spending is by trying to cut your grocery bill because buying food and other groceries can take a large chunk of your budget. Luckily it is a variable cost that can be reduced. For the last few months my boyfriend and I are trying to reduce the amount we spend on food, care products and household products. We used to spend around 400€ a month and we are trying to get it to 300€ a month, and so far it seems to be working.
I collected several tips for spending less money in the supermarket:
- Never go shopping while hungry. When you are hungry you tend to buy more food and greasy unhealthy snacks. It sometimes happens that I’m in the store with an empty stomach, and then I really notice the snacks stacking up in the shopping cart (which is bad for both my wallet and my weight).
- Make a list of the things you need and stick to it. This will help to avoid impulse purchases.
- Also try to make the list in order of the organisation of the store (for example, vegetables and fruit are aisle 1, cheese aisle 2, drinks aisle 3 … ). This way you can walk through the store without going back and forth between the different aisles. It will save you time and you will be less tempted to take some extra chips or snacks when you pass that aisle for the third or fourth time.
- Before going to the store, make a week menu and look what you already have and what you need to buy and put in on your list. It’s really handy because then you have food for a week, you don’t have to ask yourself every evening what to cook, and you avoid going last minute to (maybe more expensive) stores to buy the ingredients you need to cook a meal. This also eliminates freewheeling at the store and will keep your weekly menu healthier, cheaper and more diverse then if you have to decide what to eat all week when you are in the store.
- Check the weekly promotions, however don’t be blinded by them. Only buy the things that you know you eat or use.
- Try to buy season fruit and vegetables. Out of season vegetables or fruit tend to be more expensive.
- See if you can replace brand products in cheaper brands. Most of the time (however not all the time, it depends on the products), the cheaper version tastes as good or is as healthy as the expensive brand. Also know that stores always put ‘expensive’ brands on eye level, and the cheaper brands at the lower levels of the shelves.
- Sometimes it can be profitable to buy different things in different stores. However you must see for yourself whether the costs of driving to the different stores doesn’t become higher than the amount of money you win by buying cheaper things in the different stores. (Don’t forget you waste a lot of time as well).
- Size matters. Take the size and quantity of products into accounts and buy accordingly to your needs. My boyfriend and I eat a lot of minced meat in spaghetti and other dishes. So we always buy a large amount of minced meat and freeze different portions. The maxi pack of minced meat is a lot cheaper (10% reduction). I also buy a huge bottle of provincial herbs. We use these herbs in a lot of dishes so its cheaper to buy a big bottle with which we can refill a smaller bottle. Another example is soda. We rarely drink it so we buy it in cans. Cans are maybe more expense than a bottle, but we drink it so rarely that its cheaper (since we can never finish a bottle before it’s lost all the bubbles), so we also don’t have to throw any away.
- Compare prices of different products/brands. If you compare the price, look at the price per kilo. So look at the relative price, not the absolute price.
And for good measure 2 extra tips:
- Keep your receipt. By keeping you receipts you can keep track your monthly spending on groceries, and you can also compare prices. For example, if you see that a certain product that you normally buy is in promotion, you can check how much you paid last time. Maybe the store says it’s in promotion, but it’s possible that they first raised the price. If you really want to create a system you can enter these things in an excel file, making them easier to track.
- Bring your own (re-usable) bag to the store. In Belgium (and I think in a lot of countries in Europe) most of the stores ask some money for a plastic bag so it’s better for your wallet (and also the environment) to take your own bag.
These are some general tips that my boyfriend and I know and try to follow. I have the feeling that they really help use to lower our grocery bill. What do you think of these tips? Do any of you have any other tips? Feel free to share!