"How many times have you made a quick trip to the shops to buy one thing, but you end up buying a lot of other items you didn't really need?"
Whether you're a student struggling on a budget or a parent trying to keep the food bills at bay, we could all use some tips on how to manage our food budgets properly and save some extra coin. So, let's get started, here are the eight easiest ways to cut your food budget in half!
1. Learn how to store your groceries
The refrigerator is your best friend. While canned goods, seasonings, and noodles aren't necessarily a problem when it comes to shelf life, it's a whole different story when we're talking about other foods. Vegetables and fresh fruits should be replenished every one to two weeks because they don't last very long; even if they are stored in the fridge.
However, the shelf life of foods can definitely be prolonged by placing them in the correct location of the fridge and freezer. Make sure that you store all meats in the freezer immediately after you return back from the store. Freezing meats will definitely make them last for weeks so buy them when they're cheap and don't be afraid to stock up. The same can be done for bread.
2. Write up a grocery list
We often spend more than we need to when we're shopping for our groceries. We buy more than we can eat, and we often lose track of what we intended to purchase in the first place. Much like how a to-do list keeps us on track with our tasks, a grocery list is imperative to keep us on track with what we must buy.
While it may sound basic, this factor must not be overlooked. How many times have you made a quick trip to the shops to buy one thing, but you end up buying a lot of other items you didn't really need? Writing up a quick grocery list before leaving for the store will effectively prevent you from buying any unnecessary items; as it keeps you on track.
Find out how much you can save, just by creating a shopping list on your phone - if pen and paper are a little too 'old school' for you.
3. See a bargain? Go for it!
Sometimes all the planning in the world can be fruitless if that one head of lettuce you need is $6.99. When you head to the supermarket take note of what fruits and vegetables are on sale. Most likely it will be things that are in season and in excess.
If you see something on sale in the shops, make the most of it. Notice that 2 lbs of pumpkin is only $.50? Why not grab a couple? Vegetables can be so diverse and used in so many different recipes. It might be just pumpkin soup or you can get creative and make things like pumpkin cornbread, pumpkin beef, and black bean chili or pumpkin cannelloni. You might also see an abundance of cabbage or corn. You can use your natural gas smoker to preserve these foods and enjoy them at a later time. Saving you tons of money down the road.
4. Learn how to cook
It's not a secret that home-cooked meals are definitely cheaper than eating out at restaurants. However, the process of cooking may seem daunting for those who aren't used to it. With that in mind, anyone can cook. Start off with simple recipes with simple ingredients.
5. Cook at home
Cooking at home ensures that you know exactly what you're putting into your body. Also, if you have bought your ingredients on sale, the cost of your meals will definitely equate to less than what you pay for at restaurants. Learn a new skill and save money while you're at it.
6. Plan your meals
Once you've learned how to cook, meal prepping is the key to saving money as well as saving time. Start off small and plan your meals for the entire day. Once you've mastered that, proceed to plan your meals for the entire week. Meal prep is easy, and everybody can do it! Cook your meals in bulk and store them for later in the week.
This process not only ensures that you save money by making sure that you're able to evenly distribute your ingredients over several meals, but it also ensures that you're able to conveniently heat up your food and eat it immediately.
7. Don't limit yourself to one store
Sales don't just happen at one store. Every store is different and each of them is constantly competing to provide consumers with the best prices. Take advantage of this and shop for the best prices. You're not constricted to purchasing your groceries at just one store so take the time to scout out the varying prices and follow the cheapest prices.
8. Shop for store brand goods
Store-brand items are indisputably cheaper than commercial goods and usually, you can't tell the difference; apart from the packaging. Due to store-brand goods being independently produced and packaged by the store itself, it's no wonder that they're cheaper.
While not all foods have a store-brand counterpart, items such as canned foods, condiments, and other processed foods are definitely guaranteed to have store-brand versions.
Cutting your food budget in half is easy. It is time-consuming and requires a little effort and discipline, but the savings are well worth it!