Do you love food? I know I do! We need food to live but the variety we have makes it a delight. As a result, food costs end up being one of the largest household expenses for families. So, how do you save money on food? The key lies with the type of expense food is.
Saving Money on Food, a Variable Cost
Most of our expenses are fixed and there is little we can do to change them. Expenses like mortgages, rent, car payment, insurance are examples of such. The only variable expense is food. So, to save money, we must focus on cutting food costs. How? Here are 3 easy steps.
Track Your Food Costs
This means you track the amount you spend on food including groceries and eating out. You can track either weekly or monthly but have enough of a sample size to give you a good idea of your spending habits. Once you have done that, find your average food spending costs.
Reduce and Save
Once you have your average food costs, take 10 percent of that amount and immediately put into savings. You will do this every time you need to spend on food(either weekly or monthly). The other 90 is what you will spend on food. So, is that it? Not quite!
Use Cash, Save More Money
The next thing you need to do is take that food budget as cash. Why? Because once your cash is gone, there is nothing else to spend. If you use a debit or credit card, there is always the temptation to spend beyond your budget. Cash takes this away. Also, you will be more mindful of what you spend on and might have cash leftover. If you do, put that into savings too!
It seems pretty easy and it is! Most times the simple solution is the best solution. So try it out, you might be surprised on how much you save! Saving money is important; eating food is very important. But you can have the best of both worlds. So eat, drink and save!
There is no denying it – what we spend on food can cost us a huge portion of our income. And, with prices of food seemingly going up continuously, we all are looking for ways to save on our weekly grocery bills. Here are our top 10 ways to save on groceries. Have more ideas to share? Please leave a comment!
- Change supermarkets – I know, you’ve shopped at your favourite store forever and so did your Mama and your grandmother. Maybe the store you shop at is very comfortable for you – you know where everything is located, and you even know the names of your favourite cashiers! I get it. But, changing to a lower-cost supermarket can save you immense amounts of money. Stores like Walmart and No-Frills are much lower cost than high-end grocery stores.
- Shop at multiple stores – Instead of hitting up only one store every week, make a detailed list of the best sales (or loss leaders) at every store, and stock up on those.
- Search grocery flyers or flyer apps before you head out – Apps like Flipp have made browsing through grocery flyers a way easier task! You can even create a shopping list of all the specials at each store, and then access that list easily on your smartphone. Or, of course there are still paper flyers that you can peruse. This way you are armed with the information on what each store has on sale this week, allowing you to get the best deals. And therefore – save your money!
- Make a price book – This has been an frugal living tip for a long time, as any longtime frugalites will know! What is a price book? Basically, a notebook (or digital file on your phone or tablet) where you keep track of the best prices in your area for the food you buy. This is helpful because it is such a personal document – you will know what is truly a good deal when organic strawberries are on sale, for instance. You only need to keep track of the things you regularly purchase. It’ll help you understand when something is actually a very good deal.
- Farmer’s Markets – Ahhh, I love an afternoon at the Farmer’s Market! But, some of these markets are quite pricey along with their charm and quaintness. Ask around to find the best markets with the lowest prices. Sometimes shopping nearer the end of the day means you can snag a deal on produce that the grower doesn’t want to drag back home with them.
- Outlet food stores – I was recently told a tip about an Italian outlet market here in Calgary! It’s called Scarpone’s, and is located in the North of Calgary. There you can get amazing deals on their own canned tomatoes, and items like olives, olive oils, capers and pasta sauces. Ask around in your area, or head to trusty Google and type in ‘outlet food stores’ + ‘your city’ to find some hidden treasures you may never have known existed. (Another good resource to know about is McGavin’s Bread Basket. This store sells bread that is still a number of days out from being past its Best Before date. You can stock up, and freeze the bread, rolls, bagels or English muffins. It is a huge savings on the cost of a regular loaf of bread!)
- Coupons – Coupons are one of those things you either love, or you roll your eyes in disgust at the very thought of! I think I’m somewhere in the middle. I usually have a few clipped coupons in my wallet, but only on items that I would normally buy. And apps like Checkout 51 make clipping coupons as easy as tapping your smartphone screen. (In fact, you get credited a cash amount – say, $1.00 – after you purchase a certain product and prove that you purchased it by scanning the receipt and sometimes also the UPC. Once you reach a $20.00 threshold, you are sent a cheque! I have indeed received such a cheque, and can verify that this is a worthwhile app to have.)
- Check clearance sections – The clearance sections of your grocery store can provide all sorts of goodies! Sometimes you can even match a clearance price with a coupon, or a digital coupon on Checkout 51. Score! Double savings, folks. You can find a regular merchandise clearance, a produce clearance, and often a fresh foods clearance. You’ll have to keep your eyes open to find where your store has all the different reduced food sections. Usually these food items have a short best before date, so use up this good food and know that you’re preventing it from being dumped in the landfill!
- Try a generic version – Generic or no name products are often just as good as their more highly-advertised, brand name counterparts. Store brands are a good compromise of a product that is just as good as a brand name, but usually quite a bit cheaper.
- Shop for groceries online – Many of my friends swear by online grocery shopping. You choose all the food items you want, and then simply go to the store to pick your order up. Some stores have a fee for this service, but it might be worthwhile if it prevents you from impulse buying.
We hope that our list of grocery shopping savings tips will help you save some of your hard earned money. With a little pre-planning, a bit of browsing through flyers or flyer apps, and a little effort you can both save money AND eat like a king or queen!