Grocery Store Spending: 4 Tips That'll Save Big
Who likes meticulous planning? Not me. I prefer spontaneity. I like to live by the seat of my pants, finding adventure in the unexpected moments of my days. C’mon, would you rather plan out a pain-Jane afternoon at a museum or ride a red Radio Flyer down a sledding hill in the heat of summer? When you’re open to living life in the moment, the possibilities are endless?
It's been brought to my attention recently that living in the moment doesn’t always lend itself well to a budget. (See what I did there?) My countless meals at Wendy’s hasn’t done my bank account any favors, but how can anyone resist spending the extra money for a frosty? Unfortunately, financial regrets and spontaneous spending isn’t a new development in my life. For instance, that Chevelle CD I bought back in high school didn’t have the lasting appeal I thought it would – cliché lyrics never do.
As it turns out, the same principle is true at the grocery store. Only instead of desiring music that feels less formulaic, you’ll be looking to spend less. Simple right? Maybe even adventurous - call it a savings safari!
1. Plan Your Meals.
When you have a plan set, you’re less likely to end up at a restaurant. For the next week or two, figure out what you’re going to eat each day, but make the plan work for you. Does sugary cereal suit you for breakfast? Go ahead and get your Lucky Charms. Do you want to start packing a lunch for work? Maybe a PB&J and some fruit will suffice.
Then consider dinner. Are there any nights you plan on eating out? Will you be having company over at some point in the near future? How much time can you allot for cooking each night? You may consider looking up specific recipes for the dishes you're going to prepare.
2. Cook in Bulk.
If you’re not a big fan of cooking more than you have to, maybe you’d prefer making a large meal and freezing it for later. Once it’s frozen, you can reheat it as you see fit during the week. I’ve heard of people going to the extreme and making all of their meals for an entire month and freezing them, but that’s some truly advanced level planning. I don’t know about you, but I’m not ready to shop in legendary mode.
3. Make a Shopping List - And Stick to It!
Previously, I mentioned the importance of avoiding sales that encourage you to buy more to save money. Today, I have another tip: Make a list. If you’re like me, shopping lists sound safe and domesticated, like something that any good mother would be sure to do on a feel-good ‘50s sitcom. But first, let me offer another insult to your pride. Do you have money to throw away? If not, maybe you and that mother of another era have something in common. (An appreciation for poodle skirts may or may not be another thing.
The secret isn’t complicated, when you have a list you know what to get. So make a good one!
- Consider everything you plan on making before your next grocery run, and look up what those meals require.
- Check what you already have. When you don’t bother to take a pantry inventory, you can easily get into the habit of buying something over and over until you have a stockpile of baby carrots big enough to last you through the zombie apocalypse.
- Think about snacks. You’re probably going to want some food between meals at some point, so plan what that’ll be before you get to the store. If you don't, you’ll wind up blowing cash on anything that sounds good in the moment whenever a craving kicks in.
4. Be Realistic.
I’m sure you’ve heard not to shop while you’re hungry, but I’ll throw you another tidbit here: Be realistic with what you buy. I eat pizza regularly, so I figured I’d make my own to save money. I’ve had the unused pizza dough box and a can of sauce in my cupboard for two years now. So think things through before you get out there and have a savings adventure.