Grocery shopping is a necessity. For some (including me) it’s a dangerous necessity. I love being able to walk through a store with all of my favourite foods and think of all of the delicious meals I can make myself! When I see a juicy and well cut rib-eye, my heart starts racing. Then I walk by the seafood section and I think “Shrimp and steak? Yes please!”. All of a sudden my whole month’s budget for food is gone on one meal. That might be a bit of an exaggeration, but you get my point. It’s very easy to get carried away when you’re buying food. Over the years, I’ve picked up some good tips for not spending too much money while grocery shopping.
Plan your meals for the week
Sit down for 5 minutes before you go do your shopping and think about what you’re up to that week. How many nights will you be home to make a full meal? How many nights will you need to make something quickly? How many lunches will you need? It’s easy to write down a plan of meals for the week based on your schedule. Look at one that I made here:
|Monday||Sandwich and veggies||Spaghetti and meatballs|
|Tuesday||Spaghetti and meatballs||Salad with grilled chicken|
|Wednesday||Salad with grilled chicken||Cereal|
|Thursday||Sandwich and veggies||Fried rice and Chinese greens|
|Friday||Fried rice and Chinese greens||Soup and sandwich|
Based on the meal plan that you make, now you can write down a list of all the food you need to buy in order to make all of your meals. It’s that simple.
If you don’t have a ton of time every day to make food, or if you’re lazy like me, you can prep all of your meals at the start of the week. The easiest and most time-effective way to do this is to make roughly the same meal for the whole week with a few tweaks (my meal plan above doesn’t do this). Chicken, rice, and veggies is a good meal prep for the whole week because it’s easy to cook. When you portion it off you can put a different sauce or seasoning on each portion so that you’re not eating the same thing everyday. Meal prepping is a good way to make healthy and inexpensive meals for the whole week, so that you’re not eating fast food every night.
Make a list of the food that you’re going to buy
This goes hand in hand with planning your meals. If you shop with a list, you’re less likely to buy things that you don’t need. When you go grocery shopping, treat it like you’re just picking the items up from your list and not like you’re browsing the aisles for whatever tickles your fancy. If you don’t even look at anything except for the items you need, how will you buy anything extra that you don’t need?
Picture this: You walk into the grocery store – there are tons of possibilities for things to buy – you head straight for the vegetables you need and then over to grab the bag of rice you need, then you grab the chicken you need to finish off the stir fry and head right over to the cash register. No time spent looking for ice cream, no time spent looking at the different cheese varieties to splurge on, no extra money spent! It’s that easy. If you’re like me, you’ll probably still sneak a couple peaks at some scrumptious looking food, but that’s okay AS LONG AS YOU STICK TO THAT LIST.
Another benefit of making a list of what you’re going to buy is that you’ll be throwing out less food in the end as well. It always sucks when you buy food and you don’t end up using it before it goes bad – It’s a waste of good food and a waste of your money. If you only buy things on your list, and your list is made up of food that you’ll be eating that week, then you shouldn’t be throwing out anything.
Read the flyers before you shop
You can make your meal plan up of food that will be on sale this week at your go-to grocery store to save a bit of money. If you get the flyers in the mail, check them out weekly. If not, a lot of stores will have their flyers available on their own website or on a site like SaleWhale.ca. You can always check out flyers apps like Flipp or Reebee.
If you see that chicken is on special this week, then make sure you include that in your meal plan. If you see that pasta sauce is cheap this week, well it’s a good time to eat pasta for dinner once or twice! If you base your meal plan around those sales, you’ll be able to save money every week.
Use your grocery store rewards program
Every time I’m at a SuperStore, Loblaws, or Independent Grocers, I’m flashing that PC Plus card. Not only are these rewards programs free, but eventually you’ll get enough points to redeem for some money off of your groceries! For PC Plus, you can get $20 off of your groceries whenever you redeem 20,000 PC points.
Don’t go hunting for ways to earn more points at the grocery store, just collect the points as you go. If you go intentionally trying to earn more points, you’ll buy things that you don’t need to buy, and all that hard work to prep your shopping list will go to waste! If you really want to, you can include the rewards points specials in your prep for your meal plan, so that you can try to maximize the points you get from your weekly grocery shopping as well. Try not to fall into the trap of buying expensive items in order to get points for your card. Only buy what you need.
Don’t go grocery shopping while you’re hungry!
This is by far the most important thing I learned about grocery shopping. When you go into a store with tons of food at your disposal with an empty stomach, well that’s the recipe for overspending.
I’ve gone through this scenario so many times:
I walk into the grocery store with a rumbling tummy and I put absolutely everything into my cart. Pizza pops? Yep. Rib-eye steaks? Yep. Tortellini? Yep. Wings? Garlic bread? Salad? 5 different cheeses? Every type of apple available? Yes to everything. I find that I always pick out the unhealthy junky snacks at this point too because I’m just craving everything I can get my hands on.
Trust me, eat a nice meal before you go shopping. You’ll be much less tempted to pick up everything that you think looks good and will stick to your plan more times than not.
Grocery shopping isn’t always the most fun thing to do. It’d be great if food could just appear in your fridge without you having to move. Unfortunately, not all of us have access to grocery delivery service, nor do we all have the money to afford that. Grocery shopping is a necessary evil that we all have to do and it takes a good amount of your monthly spending. The best way to save money is to cut down on the largest expenditures in your budget, so why not try to find ways to save on your groceries?
Is there something that I’ve missed here? Do you have some other tips that you think would help people save money while they’re grocery shopping? Let me know and I’ll do my best to update this or make a follow up post to include your suggestions!
Thanks for reading, eh!