Over the past several years, I’ve realized there is a true art to grocery shopping on a budget. Too many times I’ve had to throw away old food that I’ve spent my hard-earned dollars on. For families who have several mouths to feed, the grocery budget can be even more critical, and it’s just as difficult to perfect the process.
There are several ways to avoid throwing away food, which can help you stick to your grocery budget:
1. Buy Less More Often
This may seem like a no-brainer, but honing your shopping list so each item can be used economically is quite a feat. One way to avoid over-shopping is to adopt a European tactic–make more trips to the grocery store. Work on putting fewer items in your cart, and see how much farther one load of groceries lasts. However, this may not be feasible for everyone. Factor in the additional cost of gas to decide whether this is right for you.
2. Get Creative
On many occasions I’ve sucumbed to takeout because there’s nothing obvious in the cupboards to cook up. But, when I take the time to delve deep into my pantry and start to think creatively about the various ingredients, there’s usually a meal there. It may not be the most gourmet result, but I end up well-fed and happy to have saved money. It’s helpful to keep a few canned goods like tomatoes, beans, and broths in the cabinet for the days when fresh items are dwindling.
3. Buy Frozen Produce
Most frozen produce is flash frozen just after being picked at its peak ripeness. This helps retain the same nutrients you’d get from fresh items in the produce section. Produce goes bad the fastest, so having frozen options available is a good way add fiber and vitamins to your meal when pickings are slim. Toss some frozen spinach leaves into a tomato sauce, or blend up a variety of frozen fruits into a refreshing smoothie.
4. Stay Organized
Just as you keep your week’s activities laid out in your planner, organize your refrigerator for maximum efficiency. Keep perishables in plain view so you’ll be reminded to munch on that celery and hummus dip before they spoil. Start a routine where once a week you check the quality and expiration dates of foods in the fridge, and make a point to use them up before expiration.
5. Discount Dynamite
The supermarket is home to a constant rotation of slashed prices. It’s easy to jump at a sale, but the discount may be for an item you don’t buy often. If you haven’t figured out ways to incorporate this cheaper item into a new recipe ahead of time, your purchase may go to waste. Planning ahead will help you avoid the ticking time bomb of an ingredient spoiling in your fridge. When you use Zipongo.com, you can easily find which healthy items are on sale at your favorite grocery stores. You can see when the sales end, and think about what dish you’ll make before you head to the store.
With these tips you can begin to think about the best ways to update your shopping habits, and avoid wasting food and money. Do you have any helpful hints to add to the list?