Sunday, August 28, 2011

Back-to-school: Grocery Shopping on a Budget

Once you know your grocery stores here are some suggestions for making it on a small budget:

1. Check out the flyers before you go
Decide which store has what you need most, and decide if you will go to multiple stores. Remember that most items will go on sale every 6 weeks or so, so if you will need cheese next week and it's on sale this week, you might want to stock up.

2. Get to know your prices.
Try to walk the same route through the store each time, and get to know what prices are on items you usually buy. Just because it is marked on sale, doesn't mean it is a good price.

3. Make a flexible meal plan and list
If you are an impulse buyer, make it a strict list, but ideally you want an idea of what you will get, then you can modify it when you see what is marked down. Try for 5 planned meals, and 1-2 types of snacks each week.

4. Walk through the store first and look for sales
Do a quick walk through looking for sales, and picking up the items on your list. Then stop in a quiet corner and assess what you have. Ask yourself:
                Can I modify my meals for the week to make them cheaper with discounted/sales items?
                Do I NEED everything in my cart or can some of these wait till next time?
                Do I have some fruits/veggies to eat each day (or whatever food group you tend to forget)?
Do a second trip through the store to put back/pick up things as needed.

5. Set a budget, and keep a running tally as you shop
Round things up to the nearest $0.50 and keep track of what you have put in your cart.  I worked on a $20 budget and I think with planning most guys could make it on $30-40 even if they eat a lot, as long as they plan carefully.

6. Save 20% of your budget for non-food/pantry restocking
For me the was about $4-5 each week. This is for non-food items like toilet paper, toothpaste, etc. Or save it week to week  an use it to buy expensive foods like cheese, meat, etc.

7. Cycle your purchases
On a small budget you can't buy cheese, meat, flour, etc each week. So work on buying enough for several weeks, but only buying one of the expensive items each week. For example:
Week 1: Cheese
Week 2: Meat
Week 3: Milk

8. Watch your portion sizes
Just because you have a block of cheese, doesn't meal you need to finish it this week. Opt for cheaper snacking alternatives and use more expensive items for their flavour and nutritional value. Also, learn how much you eat of specific items like pasta by measuring it out each time you cook. For example, I use 3 handfuls of pasta or 1 1/2 mugs of pasta for myself and 4 handfuls or 2 mugs for my husband. That way you don't make too much and let it go to waste.

No comments:

Post a Comment