When a large portion of your paycheque is going towards paying down debt, it can be difficult to make ends meet.
“Look for ways to reduce the cost on everyday items so you can avoid adding to your debt pile just to feed your family”, says Jeff Schwartz, Executive Director, Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada.
Here are some suggestions on how to save money on your grocery bill.
Eat more fruits and veggies
One of the biggest food costs is meat, so if you can shift the contents of your plate, you will save considerably. Think about doing a meatless meal or two a week. If that doesn’t suit your family’s taste, try cutting back on the meat and increasing your fruit and or veggie intake.
To reduce produce costs, buy frozen or canned or buy whatever produce is in season. You can reduce the food waste by freezing what you don’t eat. And if you really are motivated to save money, start a small garden in season to grow your own.
Do an inventory
Before you even make a list, do a full inventory of your pantry and fridge. Doubling up on food items you already have is a notorious way to waste food. Try to use up what you have before you buy more and try not to let food expire.
Minimize food waste
Food spoilage is just like throwing money away.
Learn about what a proper portion size looks like so you make AND buy the right amount. If you’ve got leftovers, plan to store them properly or reuse in another dish.
In your freezer, label items when you put them in, with the newer items on the bottom. Clean and wash produce when you bring it home and store properly to extend freshness. Cut veggies like celery and carrots and store in water; clean lettuce and store in a bag with a paper towel. Store tomatoes, potatoes and onions out of the fridge and away from the sunlight.
Make a list and stick to it
After you’ve got an idea of what you already have on hand, consult flyers or websites to find out what’s on sale. Make a list and commit to sticking to it when you get to the store.
“If you can, leave the kids at home while you shop, as they will invariably try to deviate from your list. Similarly, don’t shop when you are rushed or hungry, because you will be more likely to impulse buy,” says Schwartz.
Don’t pay for convenience
You pay a premium for convenience which would do far more good in your wallet than on your dining table. Avoid buying pre-packaged foods like casseroles, pasta, meal kits, bagged salads or pre-chopped fruits and veggies.
For extra savings, buy larger cuts of meat and cut them down yourself. Buying in bulk is usually cheaper and it’s not too hard to remove bones etc.
Save at the cash register
Set up a system to locate and file coupons, so that you always have them handy when you hit the stores. Subscribe to mailing lists and contact your favourite retailers directly to receive digital coupons.
In addition to couponing, make sure you price match if you can at the checkout. Travel with flyers in your purse/wallet just in case.
Wherever possible, choose generic brands over name brands. There are some rare exceptions where name brands are better quality, but for the most part, you get a very similar product for a fraction of the price.