6 tips to cut your grocery spending in half
Groceries are often our biggest monthly expenses after rent or the mortgage, so there’s a huge amount of room for making savings. It might seem bold to claim you can cut your spending in half, but if you’ve never given food much thought, you might be surprised by how much you can put aside when you start shopping more savvily!
1. Buy in bulk
Bulk buying is typically something we think only works for large families, but that doesn’t have to be true. Buying larger packs will often mean you pay less per gram than buying a smaller pack (though make sure you check because it’s not always the case!) Likewise stocking up on items when you see good offers works really well.
You’ll generally need to have a pantry or freezer to store the food you’re not going to use immediately, so keep in mind how much space you have when you’re buying. If you don’t have a huge amount of space, you can still buy in bulk and share things with a friend or neighbour who also wants to save some cash!
Finally, a word of caution, if you know you’re prone to hoarding, just keep an eye on whether you’re buying things you’re going to actually get through before they expire. It can help to have your husband or an older kid keep you accountable on this!
2. Make the most of your freezer
Your freezer is your best friend in your quest to save money! Freezers help you keep things for longer, which not only cuts down on food waste, but allows you to stock up on perishable items when the prices are good.
Aside from the classic freezer items like meat and leftover soup, there are plenty of other things you can freeze that you may not have thought of. Many dairy products freeze really well, including milk, grated or sliced cheese and cream or creme fraiche - just be aware that sometimes the texture of cheese and cream products can change slightly, so it’s best to keep frozen items for cooking.
As well as buying ready-frozen vegetables from the supermarket, if you know you’re not going to use up some veg before it goes off, you can blanch it for a couple of minutes and then freeze it for another day. Plus it will be easier to use because you’ll already have chopped it! This is particularly useful for packets of fresh herbs, which we never manage to use up quickly enough! Oh, and the same goes for fruit, just chop it and freeze it and you can use it in a smoothie or cake at a later date.
3. Avoid buying pre-processed or convenience foods
While we’re on the subject of chopping veg, let me say that it is (pretty much) never worth buying pre-chopped vegetables (the exception is when they’re frozen!). You’ll be paying a hefty price for the convenience of not having to chop them.
The same goes for ready-made meals, sauces and soups, ready-grated cheese and those little packs of snacks you buy for little people. However, I totally get that sometimes you just need the convenience! If that’s the case, you could either set aside some time every week to prepare snacks, grate your cheese, chop your veg, or you could even keep the convenient items for when you really want them. For example, we keep pre-packaged kids’ snacks for times when we’re out of the house; when we’re home, it’s fruit only.
the more you can chop and prepare yourself - the better!
4. Check the use by dates on the things you buy
This is such a simple thing, but can make a huge difference to the amount of food you’re throwing away. When you pick up a perishable item in the supermarket, don’t just take the first one you see. Instead, look right to the back for later use by dates. Sometime you can add up to 5 days of extra freshness.
Also, don’t forget that you can freeze things any day up until the use by date, so if you hit the use by date and you haven’t used it - freeze it!
5. Plan meals
There are thousands of blog posts all over the internet about why should be meal planning, so I’m not going to go into that here. What I will do is give you my two top tips to actually save money from meal planning, because that’s not always a given! You can end up planning meals that leave you spending loads each month on new ingredients that you’re never going to use again, and that’s not what we want at all. So here you go:
Check your cupboards before you plan
When you’re planning your meals for the week, make sure you look through your cupboards and fridge as you go. You need to identify things that are going to expire that week, and anything that you can avoid buying again. If you find a recipe you like with an ingredient that similar to something you’ve already got, don’t buy that second thing. Use what you’ve got!
Look at what’s on offer
Most supermarkets publish their offers online in advance, so you can check what’s likely to be on offer when you get to the supermarket. By looking for recipes with those ingredients, you save quite a bit.
6. Designate 1-2 days a week to eat leftovers
Regardless of how well you plan, you will always have leftovers! By designating one or two days a week for eating leftovers, you can ensure that you’re not going to be throwing away bits you haven’t used. On these days, once you’ve worked out what you’re going to cook, put anything else perishable in the freezer.