You’ve created a budget and know what you can spend each month, but how can you make your money go further without eating simply every night?
Fortunately, spending less doesn’t have to mean living less or settling for boring meals. Here are some easy ways to grocery shop like a gourmet but still stay within your means:
- Plan ahead: Having a list (and sticking to it) is one thing, but even better is planning out your meals so you only buy what you need in the right quantities. Also, by seeing your meals written out, you can find ways to mix and match ingredients for even more meal options.
- Shopping once a week is enough: Hitting the store for that “one” thing often costs you a lot more in impulse buys. Limit your shopping trips and keep a supply of staple items at home to pull from.
- Sign up to save: Many stores have email newsletters or apps with special discounts, coupons or other offers. There are also third-party mobile apps that offer deals on everyday grocery items.
- Search for deals: A simple Google search can often turn up manufacturer coupons that you can use in-store or online.
- Shop around: Every grocery store is different, and they all compete for your business, so don’t be afraid to compare prices and go with the best deals. It may take a bit more time, but the savings can really add up.
- Buy the store brand: They may not be fancy, but store brand versions of your favorite items are often just as good as the popular name-brand versions — and cheaper.
- Shop with leftovers in mind: Last night’s dinner makes a perfect lunch (or another dinner!). You can also reuse items and create new dishes for more variety. Beans from a chili might work perfectly for tacos the next day.
- Bulk up: Non-perishable foods like noodles, pasta or rice are great to buy in bulk. The overall cost is usually less, and you don’t have to worry about food going bad before you have a chance to use it.
- Extend your shelf life: Despite being refrigerated, fruits and vegetables only last about one to two weeks, some for a shorter period of time. Make sure you don’t overbuy and end up throwing food away (Tip: Take produce out of the plastic bag and line your drawer with paper towels to keep vegetables fresher longer.) If you buy meat, freeze it immediately as it could last for several months.
- Shop online for less distraction: Trouble with willpower? Shop online and avoid all those yummy in-store smells and impulse buys when you’re hungry. You often can pick up your items at the store, so you don’t have to pay for delivery.
Along with turning out some tasty meals, shopping and eating on a budget can push your culinary creativity to new heights. And there’s nothing quite as satisfying as knowing you saved some money in the process.