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10 Tips To Save on your Grocery Budget in Canada

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If you want to get ahead financially, it’s important to make sure you spend less than you earn. This is easier said than done. However, it seems to be the most difficult thing a lot of people struggle with in personal finance. As I have mentioned in my previous posts, it’s important to have a budget. If you currently don’t have a budget, I suggest you create one. This is so easy to do. All you need to do is figure out what your income and expenses are. Checkout my budgeting post here to help you with this.

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After you’ve done your budget, you might find that you are spending more than you are earning. To fix this, you need to start cutting out some things to make sure you are not spending more than you are earning and to be financially healthy. You can check out my post on 6 ways to reduce your monthly expenses to help you with this.

After our rent, one of the highest expenses in our monthly budget is usually groceries. It’s no secret that most people spend a lot of money on groceries. We eat everyday. In fact, we eat a few times a day. Therefore, our fridge and pantry need to be well stocked. In order to save money, you need to be able to manage your grocery budget efficiently. If you do this right you will save you a few thousand dollars a year. So here are 10 tips to help you save on groceries.

1. Make a grocery budget

Make a reasonable grocery budget and do your best to stick to it. Even saving $100 a month in groceries adds up to $1,200 in Savings in a year. At first you can try cutting out $50 at a time and gradually increase it once you become comfortable with this. My grocery budget includes cleaning supplies, toilet paper, paper towels and even shampoo and body wash. This makes it easy for me and for my calculations. This way when I’m doing my budget, all of these expenses are already included in the grocery budget.

I am not one of those people who will tell you to use coupons. I find it to be a lot of work and a lot of wasted time just to save a few dollars. As long as you have a grocery budget and try to find a way to make it work, will be able to save a lot of money every month.

2. Use a calculator

Before going to the grocery store, I make my grocery budget for the month. And because I’m used to bying most of the things on my list, I know an approximate price of every item. I use a grocery list app that also c mes with a calculator. I enter prices next to each item and do a calculation of how much I would be spending. I sometimes try to increase the price by one or two dollars more just to make sure that I account for any price increases. If I see that I am going over my budget, I start cutting out some things right there.

So, I don’t leave the house to go grocery shopping unless my calculations make sense and I make sure that I am not going over my monthly grocery budget.

I also use this calculator when I go to the grocery store. When I put an item in my shopping cart I write down the price right away on my calculator and I keep doing this until I finish buying all the things that I need to buy. This way, I already know how much I’m going to be paying before I go to checkout. So, this is where you cut out some things again if there have been prices increases to make sure that you don’t go over your budget.

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3. Avoid eating out too often

Eating and drinking out can be really expensive, especially if you’re doing it a few times a month. Foods and drinks tend to be more expensive when you’re buying them at restaurants or bars. Avoid eating out too often. This is a grocery budget killer. You can usually make a few meals for the price of one meal bought at a restaurant. So, try to prepare your foods as often as possible. If you don’t know how to cook, learn.

There is no excuse: you can literally find millions of recipes for free on the internet. If you have to go out, try to not make it a habit to do it too often. Even better, find a way to include this in your budget. Include a small amount in your budget that you use for the occasional night out to hang out with friends.

4. Meal plan

Meal planning doesn’t mean you need to eat the same food every day. Meal planning is the process of deciding which meals you want to eat for the upcoming week, for example. You don’t need to spend hours in the kitchen on your days off preparing lots of food in order to save.

A simple way of doing this is to write down the meals you’d like to have for the upcoming week. It’s easier if you just plan for one week in advance and buy groceries based on the meals you will be having.

5. Avoid shopping when you’re hungry

I heard this before and I thought it was a joke until I went to the grocery store one day and found myself stocking up on the things I don’t usually buy. Have you found that this is the case for you? When you’re hungry, anything you find at the store seems appealing and mouth watering. You will find yourself buying just about anything just because you’re craving food. So make sure you eat before going to the grocery store.

6. Check your pantry and fridge

Avoid buying too much food. This means that you sometimes buy things at the grocery store that you already have in your pantry or in your fridge. Before you go grocery shopping, check your pantry and your fridge to get an idea of the items you already have and what you are missing. This way you avoid buying things you already have and therefore reduce your grocery bill.

7. Shop based on the stores’ weekly sales

Remember the meal plan process? Do this process based on what’s in sale. Check your local store’s sales in advance for the marked down items and try to find out the meals you can prepare out of them.  You will save a lot of money if you can find great deals every week when you are making your grocery shopping.

Be careful not to go overboard with the sales. Just because the sale price is interesting, doesn’t mean you need to stock up. A lot of people will stock up when there is a sale and end up not eating it all and most of will end up in the garbage. There will always be sales and stocking will just add to your monthly grocery bill.

8. Buy Wholesale

I do most of my grocery at Costco. I find that buying in bulk is cheaper overall, especially if you have a big family. Things like toilet paper, meat chicken flour or cheese are usually at a better price when bought in bulk. So, I make sure I buy those things at Costco.

However not everything is cheaper when bought wholesale. Sometimes, you might be saving money if you buy a no-name brand at a regular grocery store like Superstore or sobeys. So, make sure you do price checks to figure out what’s best to buy for you and your family. To do this comparison, I try to calculate the price of an item per ounce and this will give you a general idea about which one is cheaper.

9. Avoid wasting food

Before I went on this journey to save on my grocery budget I found that we wasted a lot of food in our house. I used to buy a lot of food and double of some things that I would even forget I already have. And sometimes these things would go bad before we’re able to get to them. For example, fruits and vegetables in the back of the fridge that I wouldn’t even think of. Or sometimes it’s canned food in my not-so-organized pantry. So, make sure you avoid wasting food and you know exactly what’s in your pantry and in your fridge. Don’t forget to clean your fridge and Pantry often as you will come across some things you didn’t even know you had.

10. Start freezing

If you are one of those people who don’t like to eat the same things often, for example after you have meal planned for a few days, or if you’ve made too much food, you can freeze the rest of the food for a few days or even a few weeks. This will come in handy when you come back tired one day from work or school and don’t know what to eat. It will also prevent you from ordering food. All you would need to do is put it in the microwave or in the oven and you will enjoy a great homade meal at no additional cost to you.

Bottom line

You don’t need to starve yourself in order to be able to save on groceries. All you need is a little bit of planning in advance some imagination and focus. You will start noticing the difference in your wallet if you start implementing some of these tips every month. You will even see more changes if you do them all together.

Posted in Pers. Finance, Saving Money


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