Grocery shopping on a budget tends to get a bad rap. When you think of saving money at the supermarket, you might picture buying packages of inexpensive instant noodles, frozen dinners, and very few vegetables. But budget grocery shopping doesn’t have to be unhealthy grocery shopping. When money is tight, you can trim your grocery budget while still bringing home nutritious foods for your family.
Go for the Sale
Weekly sale circulars can be your greatest ally when grocery shopping on a budget, but only if you use them to purchase items you actually need. It can be easy to get excited about the discounted candy, sugary cereal, or other snacks and forget about the items you actually need. Use the circulars as a planning tool when creating your weekly meal plan and shopping list. For example, if you see a great deal on chicken one week, plan a meal or two around chicken.
Usually, produce that is in season in your area costs less than produce that’s out of season. Think of how much less corn or tomatoes cost in the height of summer, when farmers are busy harvesting them, compared to the dead of winter, when they usually have to be shipped in from the other side of the globe. If you do want a vegetable or fruit that’s out of season, instead of paying a pretty penny for the fresh version, go frozen or canned, which tend to cost less but provide a similar amount of nutritional value.
Store brand or private label products tend to have a stigma. You might think that the store brand item, whether it’s dried cereal, ketchup, or cookies, won’t taste as good as the branded item. But, according to a taste test conducted by Consumer Reports, the majority of store brand foods sampled (33 out of 57) were as tasty as the branded items.
When you go the store brand route, you don’t sacrifice taste. But you will most likely notice a drop in your grocery bill. According to Consumer Reports, private label products usually cost between 15 and 30 percent less than major brands. If you buy the big brand, what you’re often paying for is the product’s advertising, not a better flavor.
Buy Only What You Need
Buying in bulk only saves you money if you use all of it before it spoils. If you have a lot of people in your home, it can be the way to go. But, if it’s just you, or if there are only two or three people in your family, it can be cheaper to buy smaller portions, especially when it comes to fresh food. Many grocery stores will let you purchase the amount you need, whether it’s just one apple, half of a head of cabbage or a quarter pound of brown rice. One way to purchase only what you need is to explore the bulk bin area. Bulk bins typically do away with extra packaging and let you scoop out the precise amount of dried grains, beans, or other foods that you want to buy.
A healthy diet doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. USA Today reported on a large government study that found that some good-for-you foods are actually cheaper than junk foods. When you need to watch what you spend at the supermarket, in many cases purchasing fresh, in-season produce and store brands is the way to go.
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