“Beep. Beep. Beep.”
As each item passes over the scanner, your heart rate begins to rise. With every successive “beep!” your grocery bill increases, and there is still a lot of food left on the conveyor belt. There goes your date night, your weekend plans, and your new pair of shoes.
Should you put back the granola bars and leave the store with your tail between your legs, or is there a better way to save money on food?
Canadians at all income levels deserve healthy, satisfying meals that don’t cost them their entire paycheck – or their dignity! After all, you need food to thrive and bring home the literal and metaphorical bacon! Luckily, we’ve discovered plenty of tips that have helped Canadians, like you, get through a tight month without spending their last dollar on lunch meat!
At Credito.ca, we understand that a single unexpected expense can seriously impact your food budget. If you’re looking for ways to save money on groceries without sacrificing nutrition, we know how to help! Keep reading to learn about seven of our favorite tips for cutting down your grocery bill so you can make your paycheck go a lot further.
1. Always Make a List
You may think that grocery lists are a thing of the past, but they’re actually one of the simplest routines to implement if you want to consistently save money at the grocery store. Making a helpful shopping list is about more than simply writing down “milk, eggs, bread” on a post-it note and forgetting it at home. If you really want to pay less at the grocery store, your list needs to be an artifact of careful thought and planning.
Unfortunately, this planning does take some time, but it’s far less time-consuming than you think! You can start by taking a glance at your favorite store’s weekly circular and noticing what’s on sale. What meals can you make that incorporate those less expensive ingredients?
Know in advance what you want to eat for the week, including any snacks and drinks. Add them to the list and try not to deviate! Remember to consider leftovers in your planning – a big dinner makes an excellent lunch the next day!
This also helps eliminate purchases based on “wishful thinking.” After all, how many sad vegetables have wilted in your fridge because you thought that your future self would want a salad? Commit to the list and you’ll end up with both a lower grocery bill and less food waste!
2. Count on Coupons
We are not suggesting that you emulate the lifestyles of the “extreme couponers” that you see on TV, but using a coupon is like taking advantage of free money! The best part is that you no longer need to get out your scissors and clip them. Most coupons have gone digital, and you can easily find discounts on the products you were already planning to buy.
There are a lot of great websites where you can “virtually clip” coupons to print at home. Some of these include:
You can also look into couponing apps that will allow you to bring your coupons along on your phone. The employee can scan a barcode at the register and the discount will be automatically applied to your bill. Once you’ve used your first coupon and watched the money disappear from your grocery total, you won’t go back without a coupon in hand!
3. The Freezer Aisle Is Your Friend
A walk down the produce aisle can sometimes feel like strolling through a museum. It’s full of color and unique shapes and forms. If you want to eat healthily, surely this is the place to start, right?
A lot of the beautiful produce that you can find at the front of the store is also available in the freezer aisle – and it’s usually cheaper! Frozen broccoli isn’t any less nutritious than fresh broccoli, and it won’t go bad if your dinner plans change. In fact, manufacturers freeze vegetables at the very peak of ripeness, so you’re always getting quality nutrition!
You can find nearly every fruit and vegetable in frozen form. If you don’t have the freezer space, look into canned or dried produce, too.
4. Find the Must-Go Shelf
Some people mistake the date printed on a product for an expiration date. Often, this is actually a sell-by date and has little to do with whether a food is “good” or “bad.” As products approach the sell-by date, grocery stores discount these items so that the freshest products can fill the shelves.
These discounted items aren’t expired or stale! You can find produce, dairy, meat, seafood, and bakery items on designated “must-go” shelves in the grocery store. If you want to pay less for food, always browse these areas first during your trip to the store!
Sometimes you can find an entire bag of fresh-baked bread or rolls that can become sandwiches for the whole week! Discounted individual yogurts make an excellent to-go breakfast or a compliment to your lunch. You never know what you’ll find!
5. Embrace Generic
When given a choice between a shiny name brand and a dubious-looking generic product, most shoppers gravitate toward the familiar logo. Did you know that many generic products come from the same factories as the name-brand products, often with the same ingredients? There may be slight variations to differentiate one from the other, but the biggest difference is the box.
If you’re not trying to impress anyone, give the generic alternative a try and see if you really notice a difference. Those pennies will begin to add up, and you’ll find that your grocery bill is consistently lower. You can use your savings for fresh produce or proteins, or save it for something else entirely!
6. Take Advantage of a Pick-up Service
Over this past year, many of us had the opportunity to try out a grocery delivery service for the first time. While this may have helped you to save time, there are a lot of extra fees attached that make your bill higher in the end. Most of these services have a “pick up” option that doesn’t involve the same fees and can help you avoid impulse purchases.
In essence, you’ll be able to fill your digital shopping cart. Remember tip number one and just include items that you plan to eat and enjoy this week! Because you won’t be walking the aisles, you’re much less likely to “accidentally” put something shiny and exciting in your cart that will increase your bill.
You’ll be able to avoid both temptations and delivery fees when you opt to pick up your order. Sure, it’s a little more time-consuming than getting groceries delivered to your stoop, but it’s worth the savings. Consider incorporating pick-up into your other errands so you don’t have to go out of your way.
7. Take Inventory
Be honest with yourself: is every single trip to the grocery store absolutely essential, or has it become a weekly excuse to get out of the house? When was the last time you really took stock of what you already have? Take the opportunity to take inventory of your own pantry and refrigerator and figure out how to incorporate these items into your weekly meal plan.
What meat has been hanging out at the back of your freezer for so long that it has become virtually invisible? Is that box of pasta in your pantry just there to keep the spiders company? Chances are good that you’ve become blind to a lot of the perfectly edible food that’s already in your home.
Once you know what you have, build your grocery list around these items. Buy taco fixings to go along with that chopped meat in the freezer! Buy a jar of sauce and finally have pasta night!
As a bonus, this will help you determine which staples are missing so you can stock up when they’re on sale. By buying only what you need and making use of what you have, your grocery bill is sure to be lower than expected!
A Slimmer, Sleeker Grocery Bill
Are you getting hungry? Luckily, you can use any of these money-saving tips today to help you save some cash at the grocery store. High-quality food is directly tied to health and quality of life, so taming your grocery bill can make a huge difference for you in the long run.
If a lower grocery bill won’t quite solve your monetary woes, consider a same-day cash loan from Credito.ca. Our online loans don’t require a credit check, and the whole process takes about five minutes. Visit us today to request your loan and get your hands on some extra grocery money!
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