When money is tight shopping for groceries can be a challenge, you have to learn to be savvy with your dollars. It may feel impossible at times to make your budget work with the healthy food you need, but believe it it's possible.
You can do it! All you are missing are a few tips to get you started when you are strap-on cash.
Plan Shopping Trips Ahead of Time
One of the easiest ways to overspend when you are at the store is going around and just picking up food, looking to see what is on sale (even if you don't need it), and trying to think of what you are going to eat for the week. The first thing you want to do is create a budget; it helps you make healthier food choices because fresh food, food in season and local grown veggies and fruits are usually cheaper than packaged food. You can now plan on what meals you are going to eat to know what ingredients you will need. Use a Grocery shopping app like ShoppinglistEase to create your list and calculate the cost. The app allows you to scan and create a list of products or you can just add the name of the item to create a list. After planning your shopping trip so carefully make sure to stick to your grocery list. Stick to the outside perimeters of the store, for the most part, to pick up all your healthy whole foods. A good trick to use is to try looking at the bottom or top of the shelves for price reductions. Most expensive items are located at eye level; you can avoid these items and save a few dollars.
Make an effort to Buy More Generic Brands
'Before I started shopping at trader joe's I always use to think that you had to buy name brand because they were better.' That is how most people around me shopped if you did not have a known name on the box than it was presumed that it would not taste good. Most stores offer generic brands that usually cost half as much as the name brands, and you would not know the difference just by tasting it. All the food at your grocery store has to follow the food safety standards that are set if they want to sell their products to you the consumer. I went from spending $300 a week at wholefoods to about $98 to $130 a week at Trader Joe's because I buy generic brands now and I don't miss the name brands one bit. Even when you are saving you need to get your money's worth. Just make sure you are looking at the ingredients on the back to know what you are getting with those generic brands.
Make The Time To Cook At Home
You don't have to be a chef to cook at home. Planning meals are a lot easier than you think, you just have to make meals that fit your budget, time, and skills. Think of what you want to eat and when you will have time to make those meals. Meal prepping could be your best friend if you live a busy lifestyle, you could prepare just three meals for a few days or have all your meals for the week ready to go. Cooking your lunch for work at home for example for five days could cost you around $30 a week. Buying the same lunch for $10 a day would cost you $50 a week, a big $20 difference to your bank account. The best part about cooking at home is controlling not only precisely what is in your food but also how much is in it. You now can manage your weight better, stabilize your metabolism, and keep your overall health in check.
Skip Meat For Other Proteins A Few Days A Week
If you are bodybuilding, this may be a little harder to do, but I know you can do it. Eating less meat will help you save money, other protein option can cost a fraction of what you pay for that pound of meat. A case of 12 organic large brown eggs can cost you about $2.99, you, in turn, would have to pay $6.99 for a pound of organic ground beef. Try eating other protein sources like hemp seeds, canned tuna fish, legumes. Other protein sources work just as well to help give your body the nutrition it needs. You can afford each one of these proteins on the cheapest budget, buy a lot more to fill you up as you make your meals for the day. It takes little effort to prepare these proteins with your meals, and they are full of nutrition. You can enjoy these proteins even more because they have a much longer shelf life than meat.
Shop For Your Produce in Season And Freeze IT!
One of the reasons why your shopping trip may be expensive is because you are just buying food and not checking for season deals. When fruits and vegetables are in season, they are a lot cheaper than trying to get them out of season. Your local produce stores will have lower prices plus they are at the peak of their nutritional values with great flavor. If you ever notice when food is out of season the sticker will usually have it coming from halfway around the world. It cost the stores more to bring over to your local market, so in turn, it is not so kind to your wallet. You can usually buy them in bulk and save even more. It is essential to think about how the food is grown, buying locally grown food is another safe choice. You would not have to worry as much about pesticides and how the food is being grown. You can buy in bulk and freeze the extra ones to keep for the next few weeks. Fresh fruits, vegetables, berries typically stay in season for only a couple of months out of the year; they are expensive but great to buy in bulk and store. You can add frozen fruits and veggies to a smoothie, yogurt cup and other meals throughout the week. You can save money by saving in food waste when you freeze them and extending the shelf life.
When It Counts Buy in Bulk
If you have a particular food that you eat every week that can be bought in bulk, it is a great way to stretch your tight budget. Foods like brown rice, oats, grains, nuts, peanut butter, beans, lentils usually are available in bulks. They will often have a long shelf life and if stored correctly in the right containers can last for months. If you can buy dry fruits or make them yourself, you can save them for months. You can put dried fruits on different meals and snacks in endless, inexpensive combination to make all your dry goods work for the months. It's a great way to eliminate food waste and save a few dollars on every shopping trip.
Use coupons and Rebates
A few tools I never forget to use every week after shopping is my rebates and coupons apps. They help me get the most out of my money and get cash back from the money I do spend.
I love to eat, so I shop got groceries often, with that said I use a few apps to earn cash back. One of my favorite apps is 'Receipthog', all you do is take a picture of your receipt, rate your experience and you get points for them. You are free to redeem your reward in different ways, but me I always get the cash. The next app is the 'Walmart Saving Cather', just scan your receipt and wait 48 hours to catch the savings. Walmart checks the stores in the area, and any price found that is lower they give you back the difference.
I love shopping, and I love it even more when I get paid for it. My go-to Rebate apps and site first is 'EBATES,' because I do just about all my shopping online (if it's not groceries) I do my best to get paid back. Ebates rewards you for just about every purchase you make online.
All you need to do is plan your shopping trips, use coupons wisely and have a budget to avoid buying any junk food.
It's not about having hundreds of dollars to spend for the week on food. It is all about making a shopping list and stocking up when possible to save. You can eat healthy on any budget, just plan and know the meals you want to eat for the week. The rule of thumb is just to be prepared and always remember 'Don't Shop when you're Hungry!' All your planning will go out the window. You want to avoid the impulsive purchase and food cravings. Before you head out the door, have a banana or just a cup of yogurt to keep you going.