There are lots of great ways to reduce your grocery bill, and many people need them. The economy is like a close friend these days – we get constant updates on how it’s doing, how it’s expected to do, and what changes. There are special reports, newspaper columns and shocking real life stories about how hard families have been hit. Just recently it’s supposed to be getting better, but if you are still counting the pennies and trying to cut your spending, you aren’t the only one. Here’s 8 ways to reduce grocery bills – these really work, whether it’s a long-term strategy or a festive savings strategy.
1. Check Your Treats
It feels like it’s been a long time since everyone was spending without a care in the world, and most people have had to cut back on treats in one way or another – less shopping trips, making coffee at home or cutting down on the magazine subscriptions. Cutting down on luxurious is one of the best ways to reduce your grocery bill. You’d be surprised what "treats" might still lurk on your shopping list, though – dishwasher tablets, for example, can cost a small fortune. And while washing by hand sucks, those extra few pounds (or dollars) could go on a glass of wine or bar of chocolate to really boost your mood.
2. Check the Regift Drawer
Do you have a stash of presents you are planning to regift, hotel souvenirs and holiday gift sets? The rainy day you were saving them for is finally here. A friend called me in tears last week, so upset that she’d run out of shampoo, conditioner and bubble bath, and her budget couldn’t stretch to any more. I went round with arms full of potions and lotions – and then we discovered her forgotten stash, too. Check in cabinets, your Christmas present hiding place, bathroom drawers and suitcases. And don’t forget those old style tips for emergencies either – baking soda can make a functional toothpaste, for example.
3. Edit Recipes
Have you looked through a cookery book lately? If you are anything like me, you’ll probably follow them exactly without thinking – but sometimes, editing them can save the taste as well as pennies. This is such an easy way to reduce grocery bills! Spaghetti Bolognese can be made with chili peppers or tomatoes, for example, but rarely needs both, and tacos taste great with just lettuce rather than a whole salad. For recipes you make weekly, check out if buying a bulk amount will work out cheaper than buying smaller amounts each week. You’d be surprised!
4. Shop Local
Your supermarket might not be the cheapest place for you to shop, although it’s probably the most convenient! Local butchers can often offer deals, and will reduce prices for loyal customers. The Chinese supermarket in the next town offers fantastic deals on noodles and sauces, making them almost half the price of the supermarket, and for things I do need to get from a shop, I make sure I price check. There’s even supermarket comparison websites now, and you can often get vouchers for shopping that costs more. For supermarkets you do need to use regularly, check out voucher schemes. Whether it’s club card points or nectar points, you can often get money off your next shop, or even just collect the points up and use them for days out or a treat once in a while. Every little bit counts!
5. Play Food Challenge
This is a game I’ve played for years – it was invented while I was staying in a shared house. We’d often end up with random ingredients left over, so we’d split them into three categories – meat, carbohydrates and vegetables. Put everything into carrier bags, and blindfold someone. Rattle the things round in the bag and get the person to choose one meat product, one carbohydrate product and two vegetable products –then challenge them to create a meal. They are free to use anything else they can find in the kitchen, such as herbs, left over sauces and seasonings, but have to use the ingredients chosen. Sure, some things were very random, but we invented some great recipes, had some laughs and it’s a good way to use up odd bits and bobs that can be forgotten. You can even make this simpler by letting the children get involved – making soup is great fun for little ones, and you don’t need many ingredients. You can even make enough to last a few days, which will really cut grocery bills.
6. Ditch Brands
Looking past name brands is one of the most cost effective ways to reduce grocery bills. Look through what you buy most, and decide what you absolutely need the branded version of. Then, try unbranded versions of the others. Cereals, for example, often taste exactly the same. Pasta is the same. In actual fact, most people can’t tell the difference for the majority of products. If your family isn't keen on using off brands, keep the original packaging and decanter the off brand versions into the branded bottles – they’ll never know, and it can be a massive reduction in costs.
7. Use Fillers
Meat is expensive, but very good for you. If you don’t want to cut down on it completely, try using less of it – without affecting the flavor. Spaghetti Bolognese for five people can require a large amount, for example, but you can easily use less and mix the meat with a filler item such as lentils and legumes to make a little go a long way. Not only will this save money on meat, but you’ll also trim your general grocery bill too, because rice, lentils and legumes are naturally filling and will reduce snacking too. These tend to be really cheap to buy, have long shelf lives and can be used in a whole variety of recipes, so they really are a great buy. Don’t worry about tasting them, either – they’ll be undetectable under that Bolognese sauce.
8. Avoid Temptation
If you’ve got access to unlimited cash, it can be difficult to stay in control when you are browsing those supermarket aisles. Special offers, tempting treats and piles of cakes are all great incentives to spend more than you can afford, and feel guilty later. Try to take your exact budget in cash when you shop, so you have no option to go over. If there is money left once you’ve paid for everything, that’s the time to invest in treats – and you’ll feel great for always sticking to your target.
Cutting the grocery bill isn’t just hard work – it’s emotionally draining too. But if you need inspiration, just dig out some bank statements and check out how much of your income goes on food each month. And remember that your grocery budget is likely to be much less painful to cut down than other luxuries – but if you could use less petrol or buy less coffees, you might be able to cut down without hurting your shopping list too much. Do you have any creative ways to reduce your grocery bill? I’d love to hear it.
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