I have in past talked about how to meal plan, but I did not take into consideration the amount of money that can potentially go into it. I am currently on social assistance so I know all to well what it means to live on a tight budget. I write absolutely everything down that I buy and if I have a birthday party or another event that I know I will need to buy a gift for, I plan, save & budget that out too. Meal planning is easy but finding the deals or saving money is the tricky part. Today I have put together a list of pointers that will help with grocery shopping on a tight budget.
PLAN ALL YOUR MEALS AHEAD OF TIME
Whether you go shopping once a week, every 2 weeks, or even once a month I encourage everyone to print out a blank calendar and write down exactly what they would like to serve for each meal. Breakfast during the week can be cereal and fruit, lunches for kids are usually sandwiches and some snacks, maybe some cut up veggies with dip & dinner is whatever dishes your family enjoys. Save the weekends to be creative, pancakes, eggs & bacon etc. From this you will be able to create a shopping list of the items that you need to purchase. Do not buy items that are not on the list.
LOOK FOR SALES, USE COUPONS AND PRICE MATCH
More and more stores are offering better instore deals to be competitive. Take advantage of these deals fully. Find a grocery store, like Walmart or No Frills that will price match, then use apps like Flipp to check for the lowest advertised price in your area. Screen shot each of the deals so that you can save time at the cash register. Printing off coupons can also help to save money. Using apps like Checkout51 can help to save money from buying household items. P&G have a lot of items listed on Checkout51 like shampoo and cleaners that if you also printed out some coupons you could double up on your savings.
BUILD UP YOUR PANTRY
Make sure that you buy one of 2 items each week to build and stock up your pantry. Bags of beans will last longer and be cheaper than if you were to purchase them in cans, cans however, will save you time in cooking. Stocking up on essentials like spices, rice, whole grains, beans, pasta, and oils will make it so you always have something to work will. Once you have a built-up pantry you will only need to restock occasionally. I also suggest buying these items in economy or family sizes so that you get more for your moneys worth.
BUY HOUSEHOLD ITEMS IN BULK
Buying items like toilet paper, tampons, floor cleaner, etc. in bulk will save you money because they become cheaper the more you buy. As I had mentioned before you can plan it so that you can buy these items when a money back coupon is offered through Checkout51 and use the printable coupons. Buying in bulk means that these items should last longer before you need to restock them (unless your kid is like mine and thinks its funny to throw a whole roll of toilet paper in the toilet).
FIND A FARMERS MARKET
Buying in season produce will always save you money but buying local in season produce should save you even more money. Look for one in your community and go around the last hour that it is open. I find that sometimes the vendors will have end of day specials to get rid of as much product as possible. Farmers markets are great because you can freeze the produce for when it is out of season. Extra bonus you will be getting fresh air and exercise; make it a family event.
LOVE YOUR CROCK POT
Crock pots are great!! You can prep many meals at one time; for example, let’s say you want to have chicken twice this week, you can season you chicken and put it into the crock pot and leave it for a couple hours and when you come back, 2 dishes are done. They just need to be put into Tupperware for later. They are also good if you want to make sauces, chilis, or even soups, you can have a meal once this week and then put the other half in the freezer for next week or a day you don’t feel like cooking. Another great thing about crock pots is that you can use a cheaper cut of meat and it will come out tasting juicy and moist because of the way it cooks.
MINIMIZE YOUR WASTE; USE LEFTOVERS
As I said before you can make large batches of sauces and soups and freeze them for another night. Saves a lot of time and money over the long run and gives you a chance to use the extra funds to build up your pantries. Please keep in mind that it is important to label the date on each of your packages and eat them before they go off, or else what is the point of saving them in the first place??
START A GARDEN
Whether it be a small herb garden (have you seen the price for basil?!?) or a larger vegetable garden the money that you save will out weigh what you would spend buying produce from the store. There is something extremely satisfying about growing your own food. Kids love to help in the garden, so make it another family thing. Get them involved and take the time to teach them about chemicals, and healthy eating and different types of vegetables.