4 tips for cheaper, healthier grocery shopping
Maintaining a balance between healthy nutrition and a healthy bank balance is a challenge, but it’s not impossible if you know the right tricks. Here are four practical ways you can cut your food bills without compromising on your family’s health.
Read more: 8 steps to make a yearly budget
1. IT'S ONLY ON SALE IF YOU NEED IT
It’s easy to buy on sale and think that you’re saving money, but that’s only true if you need what’s been reduced.
Swapping out red beans for on-sale black beans is great, but picking up extra broccoli you have no plans for just because it’s 2-for-1 is just an extra buy that hasn’t been budgeted for.
Remember, 50% off is nice, but 100% off is even better---and you’ll only get that by avoiding an unneeded purchase altogether.
2. BULK BUYS ARE WISE (MOST OF THE TIME)
Buying in bulk often works out a lot cheaper than buying items individually. This is a fantastic choice for staples like rice, beans, pasta and so on.
The exceptions to this are items that you’re unlikely to use completely before they go bad. This isn’t a worry for anything in cans or that you can freeze, but it does start to get dicey with perishables. Meat, for example, is sometimes sold in bulk for cheap---but if you don’t eat that much, it quickly goes bad.
Buy in bulk, but only for those things you know you’re going to use up.
3. BEST-BEFORE AND EXPIRY ARE NOT THE SAME THING
Anything marked with a ‘use-by’ or ‘expiry’ date will go bad by the date listed and you shouldn’t use it past then. But if it’s a ‘best-before’, it’s a different story: it’s still edible past the given date, it’s just not going to be up to the supermarket’s strict quality standards.
What this means for you is that before you waste money replacing that supposedly expired bag of biscuits, make sure it isn’t just best-before instead. Even the experts agree you shouldn’t throw them out straight away.
Quick tip: use suitable best-before-marked food in soups, stews or boil-ups. This is very forgiving to ingredients past their prime.
4. MAKE HEALTHY DECISIONS BEFORE YOU START THE SHOP
If you’ve already made up your mind about what you’re grabbing, you’re less likely to make purchases you don’t need. Take an hour a week to plan out what you and the family are going to eat for each meal and shop accordingly. Stick to that, and you know you won’t overspend or pick up junk food just because you need something quick and easy.
Start small: plan out what would be a regular week, junk-y food included. Then swap one meal out for something healthier. If that works, try something extra the next week, and repeat.
One last tip: if you find yourself tempted at the supermarket despite the meal plan, consider online shopping instead. Click-and-collect or delivery keeps you away from those casual purchases.
Want more saving tips? Make sure you include discretionary spending in your regular budget! Read more about it in our complete guide to discretionary spending.