Grocery Shopping on a Budget | How to Save Money on Food in 2022
Updated · Aug 15, 2022
With the rapidly rising inflation, grocery shopping has become a nightmare for all of us. But worry not, as we’ll teach you how to reduce your spending without making huge sacrifices.
Some of the tips you’ve probably heard before.
- Cook at home
- Buy only what you need
- Prep your meals for the week
While these may be the most effective ways to reduce spending, we’ll show you a few tricks that make them easier to follow.
We’ll also give you some innovative ideas to make grocery shopping on a budget easier.
Plan Your Meals for the Week
Surely, you’ve heard this before. The best way to save money on food is to cook instead of ordering in or going out.
You don’t need tons of recipes ready for each day of the month. All you need is a few customizable dishes and some creativity.
And if some days you simply don’t have the time or energy to cook, don’t beat yourself up. It’s okay to eat out, so long as you look for cheap foods and don’t do it too often.
Still, there are a few hacks on how to stick to the plan when you don’t feel like cooking.
Have a few ready meals in the freezer. Whether it’s a frozen pizza you bought on sale or leftovers from your weekly meal prep, it’ll save you tons of time and effort.
Even if cooking isn’t your favorite thing in the world, you can do it once or twice a week and still have:
- A few fresh meals per week
- Leftovers you only need to reheat
- Several half-ready dishes you can finish prepping up quickly
- Frozen food for emergencies
Get Creative With Leftovers
Before you make your list of groceries on a budget, check what you have at home.
You may find enough food in the fridge, freezer, and at the back of the shelves to last you a few days.
Take out everything you have and put it in one place.
Now it’s time to get creative!
Think of as many combinations as possible with the products you have. Can you come up with recipes that combine all of them?
How long will those meals last you?
Great! That means you can add two more days of cheap eats to your meal prep and save up on food.
After you know what you have, you can make a shopping list.
Making a Grocery List on a Budget
To fully understand how to grocery shop on a budget, you should bake a few principles into your shopping habits.
For starters, make a list before you go to the store. That way, you won’t be tempted to overspend and buy things that’ll end up in the trash.
If you do a weekly meal plan, note all ingredients. Of course, check whether you already have some of them at home.
Your budget grocery list should also contain key products you’ll need during the week. These are things like:
- Fresh fruit
- Meat and vegetables
Buy Non-Perishable Goods in Bulk
When starting your cheap grocery shopping journey, you may need to stock up on long-lasting products.
Of course, if you’re trying to save money, you shouldn’t buy everything at once. You can make a non-urgent list and wait for a discount.
Here’s a list of key non-perishable products to buy:
- Granulated sugar
- Nut butter
- Nuts and seeds
- Dried fruit and vegetable
- All sorts of canned food
Store Your Groceries Properly
Apart from buying cheap food, here’s how to save on groceries.
If you end up buying more than you need, try to preserve the food instead of throwing it away.
Fruits, vegetables, meat, butter, and even cheese can last much longer if frozen. Chop them up (you can shred the cheese), package them, and fill your freezer. The bonus here is that full freezers work more efficiently.
Of course, fresh fruit and vegetables are healthier and more delicious. So when you’re shopping for fresh food, buy products that are in season. Usually, seasonal fruits and veggies taste better and are cheaper as their production abounds.
Remember, moisture is the enemy of fresh fruit and veggies. Take them out of any plastic packaging and place them in a dry place in the fridge or the pantry if it is cold enough. That way, they’ll last longer.
Apart from that, the cheapest foods are usually canned or frozen.
You can get out-of-season fruit and vegetables in that form. Their taste won’t be as good as their fresh counterparts, but out-of-season fruits rarely taste that great even when fresh. Being imported from distant, warmer lands does impact their freshness and ripeness.
One way to get better canned food is to prepare it yourself. Buy seasonal fruits and veggies and prepare them to last—the web is full of useful recipes for making canned food.
Buy Less Meat
Inflation has affected different types of food disproportionately. The prices of meat, poultry, fish, and eggs have increased the most—over 14% as of May 2022.
While it’s hard to beat inflation, there are things we can do to reduce the adverse effects. So, reduce meat consumption and add more fruit and vegetables to your diet.
This is the path to a cheap grocery list and, potentially, a healthier lifestyle. Not to mention the numerous benefits of budgeting for your physical and emotional well-being.
Discounted Food Isn’t Always the Best Choice
Vendors tend to rack up the price of products and advertise them as “buy one get one free” promotions.
You may think you’re buying two for one, but you’re really paying for both. Also, discounted food is often approaching its expiration date.
So, how to grocery shop on a budget without falling prey to false advertising?
Discounts are a great way to save money but don’t stack up unnecessarily. If you buy more than you can eat, you’ll end up throwing away something you paid for.
Don’t Take Couponing to an Extreme
Coupons are great facilitators for grocery shopping on a budget.
If you dedicate enough time and effort to it, you may leave the store with bags of food and pay close to nothing.
But there’s a catch.
Finding a good deal and bringing home free food for the entire family feels like a great accomplishment. The pleasurable sensation you get from it may get addictive.
And while eating cheap isn’t a deadly threat (not an immediate one, anyway), you may buy things you don’t need.
At the end of the day, you’ll realize you’ve overstocked with unnecessary items and wasted a fortune.
So, our advice is to make a list of items you have to buy first. Then look for coupons for those products only.
Compare Prices in Your Local Shops
Whether you’re shopping online or going to the store, there are probably several options in your area. Don’t limit your choice to just one.
Compare the prices in several shops and find the cheapest grocery store around. If you’re shopping online, check which shop offers discounts on the goods you need to buy.
Also, don’t forget that the sales prices are often only for customers with store cards. Getting one is a good idea, so you don’t miss out on sales.
Grocery shopping on a budget isn’t always easy, but it can be fun. Make a habit out of it, and you’ll save tons of money and time.
Our useful tips and tricks will help you start proper meal prep and smart budgeting.
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With an eye for research, Aleksandra is determined to always get to the bottom of things. If there’s a glitch in the system, she’ll find it and make sure you know about it.