Food shopping can be a significant drain on a family’s finances. It is important to find ways to cut costs and save money where you can. Avoiding food waste is also crucial. Fortunately, there are many ways that a frugal family can achieve this. Taking the time to plan and organize your shopping can be invaluable.
Having the ingredients to cook a range of healthy foods is also crucial. Many people cycle through the same few meals, so adding some fresh recipes each week can be a great way to spice things up. This article will discuss some of the best ways to make your weekly shop go even further.
Go Shopping With A List
A great way to reduce impulse purchases is to shop with a list. Before you set out, decide what kinds of meals you will cook for the week ahead and ensure you have all the ingredients you need on your list. When in the store, be strict with yourself and buy only what is on your list.
It can also help to go shopping on a full stomach. Shopping while hungry can lead to impulse purchases of snacks and other unhealthy foods. It can also lead to impulse purchases that are nothing to do with food. It can also be beneficial to leave the kids at home when food shopping, both to save time and to ensure no additional items end up in your cart without you realizing it.
Visit Discount Stores
Many people shop at the same store every time. If you’re looking to save money, it may help to see if there is a local discount store you could visit. Shops like Aldi and Lidl are becoming popular in the US and offer big discounts on a wide range of essential kitchen ingredients and household items.
Buy Non-Perishables In Bulk
Buying non-perishable items in bulk can be a fantastic way to save money, provided you have the space to store them. You should only do so with items that your family uses a lot and have long use by dates. Things like oats, canned goods, and toiletries can be great to buy in bulk. You could visit a local wholesaler to see where you can get the best value for money. It is always worth calculating whether the savings will be worthwhile long term before you buy.
Plan Your Meals
Making a meal plan is vital to help to manage the amount you spend on your food shopping. Consider every meal for each family member, and ensure that your meal plan includes all the fresh produce, nutrients and vitamins that you and your family need to thrive.
It may help to invest in a cookbook to inspire you. Choose something family-oriented, with plenty of healthy, hearty meal choices. You could also get the kids involved in deciding what is for dinner, as this can be a great way to encourage them to try new foods.
If you have any leftovers or produce that is about to go out of date, you should freeze them to prevent wasting food. Freezing leftovers lets them keep until you have a use for them again. It can also be an excellent method of meal prepping if you struggle to find the time after a long day to cook a fresh meal.
You should learn the best ways to freeze foods to ensure they keep well. You can find guides online to help. This excellent article on freezing potatoes from A Clean Bake is a great place to start.
Keep Track Of Use By Dates
When you buy fresh produce, ensure you look at the use by dates to ensure you have enough time to cook them. It is best to choose the produce with the longest date where possible. Once you bring the items home, you could consider making a note to leave on the fridge door to remind you of when all the items in your fridge will start to turn. It is also good to remember that many best by dates for non-meat items can be exceeded, provided the produce still looks and smells okay.
Going vegan can reduce your food shopping expenses significantly. Meat is one of the most costly parts of our diet. A vegan diet can be every bit as delicious and nutritious as one with meat and dairy, so you will need to do a little research to ensure you have all the right ingredients and recipes to help. If going vegan permanently is a bit intimidating, you could start by having one or two vegan days per week.
Buy Seasonal Produce
Buying produce that is in season will be cheaper. Out of season produce has to be imported or grown in artificial conditions, making it more costly to produce and buy. Eating in-season produce can also have big benefits for the environment, as there will be lower carbon emissions associated with the growing, distribution and delivery of the produce. You can find out which fruits and vegetables are in season in your area here.
Purchase Foods To Go With Items Already In Your Cupboard
Another great way to reduce the cost of your food bills is to create meal plans around the food you already have at home. At least once per month, you should go through all the canned and frozen food you have to see what kind of dishes you could create. When you do your food shop, buy only the extra items you might need to complete the meal. It can be easy for non-perishable food to build up in the home, and even canned goods have expiration dates. By working through all the ingredients you have, you will ensure none go to waste.
Keep A Food Diary
If food waste is something you’re particularly concerned about, it can be beneficial to keep a food diary. Note down the items you buy, what your family eats and what gets thrown away. You can then use this information to identify which items most commonly go to waste and how you can avoid doing so in the future. You may need to buy less of a particular item, freeze things earlier or try new recipes.