- Submitted by Beryl
Everyone goes for shopping at-least once in a week to get necessary things for pantry and kitchen. The shopping experience may be bitter or sweet depending on the grocery bill. Grocery bills can be so expensive at times. People often look different ways to reduce the grocery bill. They tend to go to different shops and purchase cheap things from each store, which is again time-consuming process. Proper knowledge and planning ahead may reduce your grocery bill considerably. In this page, let us see various methods to reduce the shopping bill in detail.
1. Produce your Own Food
We can save a considerable amount of money by producing food at home. These are some things that I have been doing at home.
- Having a backyard garden saves you lot of money. You can grow vegetables and fruits that can easily grow in your region and eat healthy organic vegetables. Commonly found vegetables in backyard garden are chilies, tomatoes, potatoes, okra, bell peppers, eggplant, lemon, drumstick, herbs like mint, basil, cilantro, curry leaves, green onions etc.
- Make your own honey from your backyard by beekeeping.
- Growing hens at the backyard brings some eggs to the kitchen. Buy few ISA Brown hens and a chicken coop to get a good supply of eggs.
- Make your own yoghurt at home.
- Bake your own bread if you have time. It comes in handy during busy days.
2. Eat home cooked Food
- Try preparing your own meal using basic ingredients. Avoid buying expensive ready-to-eat meals and processed instant food items. This not only saves your money but also your health.
- Reduce the consumption of meat but instead add more vegetables and fruits in your diet. This is not only healthy, but also an inexpensive option.
- Avoid overeating. Try not to snack all the time. Eat a well balanced diet in portions just what is required. This way you don't have to spend hours exercising.
3. Stay Organised
Cooking and producing your own food saves a lot of money. At the same time, it is important to stay organised to avoid wastage.
- Try not to waste food. Use food items within the expiry date.
- Organise your Refrigerator: Keep all things arranged properly inside your fridge so that nothing goes unnoticed. While selecting fruits from refrigerator, pick those which are ripe first, and leave the raw ones for later use.
- Organised cupboards helps to reduce food wastage. You wont buy the same thing, if you have arranged your pantry well. Allot separate box for each food item and label them.
- Stocktaking of your kitchen cupboards, refrigerator and pantry should be done when once a month or when you have time.
- Try to buy a big refrigerator or freezer and air-tight containers, which can save lot of money, as you can store more veggies and fruits when they are available cheap.
- Reduce frequent visits to the shop. Shop once or twice in a month if you have a big refrigerator or freezer.
- Check your receipt and record that in monthly budget. Record each income and expense in excel or Everydollar.com
4. Plan your Shopping
- Planning ahead will help to reduce the grocery bill considerably. Plan ahead what to buy and where to buy.
- Preparing a Shopping list: List of things you need to buy immediately. While preparing the shopping list, write the list of things to buy from each shop separately. Also mention the quantity under each item.
- When a food item gets finished, note it down in a diary or on a note and keep that in a safe place in kitchen. Or you can use a white board stuck in your refrigerator.
- Before buying, plan how much to spend on each items. Allocate certain amount for supermarkets, vegetable shop and meat shop and stick to that, so that you can stop your grocery bill within that limit.
5. Stay Connected
- Keep in touch with the shops for offers or discounts. Join newsletters (if available) of various shops and get their offers details straight into your inbox. Like or follow the Facebook and twitter pages of various shops in your area
- Join Facebook page of various local groups (eg: Mummies Group, Community Groups, etc.), where people ask for recommendations. You can even post questions and get best reply from your neighbours. Browse various shop websites and have a clear idea about prices.
- Knowledge about the local shops is very important. This can be obtained by talking with your neighbours and friends who live near your place. Look where your friends and neighbours are shopping and find out their ways for smart shopping.
- Find out what's inexpensive in each shop using letterbox advertisements from various shops. Some shops offer cheap products only on a particular day in a week like Monday Specials, Tuesday Specials etc. Keep an eye on those specials and offers
- Join the loyalty member programs and receive the card to earn some points. Use rewards credit card. Most of the supermarkets have Flybuys, Rewards Card etc. Try to get a card and you will earn points towards what you spend and use them later for getting gift items, etc.
- Staying connected with friends also helps you to save a lot of money by buying in bulk from certain shops like Costco and then you can divide the things among your friends.
6.Buy in Bulk
- Buy in Bulk: Buy non-perishable things in bulk from warehouses and store them, as they wont expire easily. These include tissues, toilet rolls, nappies, etc. If required you can share with your friends.
- Buy and store seasonal veggies and fruits. During certain months, there will be tons of certain types of fruits offered at very low price. Just buy and freeze them, so that you can enjoy them throughout the year. You can freeze fruits like pineapples, apple, banana, etc. and enjoy making smoothies throughout the year (even when price of those fruits go up). You can cut pineapples into medium size pieces and store in refrigerator. Apples and Bananas can be stored with the skin-on. Banana becomes dark brown colour upon storage in refrigerator, but it tastes good for making smoothies.
- Also freeze vegetables like tomatoes, corn, okra, beans, cauliflower, broccoli, tapioca, etc. when you find them at very low price and enjoy them throughout the year.
- Cook in bulk and use in different ways. Cook chicken in bulk and make different dishes using that like chicken fried rice, chicken patties etc. Cook dhal, potatoes etc. in bulk and make different dishes with that. Cooking in bulk saves lot of time and money and it makes the kitchen tidy also. When you cook in bulk on weekends, keep them in different boxes and you can even label them as Monday, Tuesday etc. Those foods which you take on start of weekdays can be kept in refrigerator and those foods that you take towards the end of weekdays can be kept in freezer. All you need is thaw, reheat and eat the food.
- Cook base gravy on a large quantity and store in refrigerator. Then you can take some portion of base gravy and add any vegetable or meat and make a tasty side-dish. This saves you lot of time and at the same time you can enjoy tasty side-dishes with different vegetables or meats of your choice.
- When it is low-cost, buy vegetables like potatoes, garlic, shallots and onion in bulk and store in a cool, dry, dark place. No need to refrigerate them.
- In the case of onions and shallots, dry them before storing and remove any loose skin. If there is any rotten onion or shallots, just throw it away, or it will spoil others also. Do not store near other fruits or vegetables as they will absorb the flavour from onion. Just spread them in a convenient place (preferably floor of garage). They will last longer just by keeping out of refrigerator.
- Buy rice, wheat, pasta, noodles etc. in bulk if you use them on regular basis. Buying 10 kg or 5 kg is much cheaper than buying just 1 kg. Check the expiry date and make sure there is plenty of time for the expiry date. Store them in an airtight container and make sure there are no rodents like mice or rat in the house.
- If you live closer to a place where you can find seafood warehouse, then you can buy seafood in bulk and store in freezer and use whenever you need them. You can save lot of money if you buy in bulk boxes. It also reduces your frequent travel to seafood shops, thus saving both time and money.
7. Try Inexpensive Alternatives
- Try local brands: Branded food items look attractive and cost you more. Buy low-cost good quality alternatives instead of sticking to branded items. After trying a local brand once, you will have an idea if you can continue buying it. If you do not like the product try a new brand.
- Look for more options: If you take the bread as an example, there may be different types of bread like Multi-Grain Bread, White Bread, Wholemeal Bread etc. You can take into account of the price, ingredients and taste before deciding which one to buy.
- Look for garage sale or clearance sale items. Try using bargain shops and low-cost shops and find the best deals in them.
- Buy raw products than processed products, Processed products are always expensive than the raw ones. Try buying the raw products and learn how to make food from the base, if you have enough time.
- Buy whole vegetables instead of pre-cut vegetables. It takes very little time to chop at home.
8. General Shopping Tips
- Never buy what is not on the shopping list or what is not necessary, no matter how appealing it is
- Self-check the things in shopping trolley before you pay at the counter. Remove any unwanted things from trolley before you pay.
- Go for shopping after having food at home. Going for shopping with empty stomach, cost more money as you will end up eating from outside, which in turn indirectly increases your shopping bill.
- If possible shop alone. Leave the kids under the care of other family members and shop alone. This will help you to do some comparison within various products in the shop, find cheap alternatives etc. Shopping alone helps you to utilise the time wisely on shopping alone and not get distracted by kids. Moreover, kids have the tendency to ask for some snacks and other junk foods, which may increase your shopping bill drastically.