10 Painless Ways to Save Money on Groceries

We’ve spent the last couple of years paying off debts and making a determined effort not to get ourselves in any deeper. We made the decision that if we didn’t have the cold, hard cash, we wouldn’t buy it. This was a bit of a challenge when our boiler broke down last year and we were without heat or hot water for six months until we saved up the £2000 needed for a new one!

People often ask how we can afford to feed so many of us. “Your food bill must be enormous!” is something we often hear. Well, actually it’s not! I remember spending far more on food each week when we just had three children. I was far more relaxed about throwing anything into the basket and oh, the wasted food just because it went off before we got a chance to eat it. I shudder at the thought now.

So, being in love with bullet points as you well know, I thought I’d give you a few tips on saving money on your groceries.

• Set a food budget and stick to it
Work out how much of your overall budget you think should go on food. Take an average spend that you’ve been making and cut it by 10%. Then work to it. Don’t just throw everything in your grocery basket. Remember things are only a good deal if you need them. Don’t buy things you won’t use, or you think you might use just because it’s a good deal. You probably won’t.
If something is on a 3 for 2, or a reduced price for multiple purchases think carefully whether you’d use the extra if one item normally suffices. For example, if cucumbers were on offer at £1.50 for two, but you normally only buy one at 80p, is it really worth buying two and spending the extra 70p just because you’d save ten pence? If the second cucumber is going to rot before eating it you haven’t saved ten pence but wasted seventy. Do that once a week for a year and you’ve wasted £36.40.
• Menu Plan
This helps with number one above. Plan your menu for meals for the week/fortnight/month ahead and buy what you need. No more. Some people plan for three meals a day. Personally, I just plan the evening meals as I know we all have pretty much the same things for breakfasts and lunches so nothing much changes there. If you put up a blackboard in the kitchen with the menu plan for the week ahead it stops being asked a gazillion times what we’re having for dinner. This in turn saves my earholes from hurting and my head from pounding and consequently saves money on painkillers too! Good stuff!
• Keep an eye on the offers
I find it helps to plan a menu around what’s on offer. For example if new potatoes are on a BOGOF that’s the carbs sorted for two meals.
• Write a list
Make a note of what you need, not what you want. Needs come first and you’ll soon realise that not everything you once thought was a necessity actually is.
• Double check what you already have
I have a set of shelves in our room which houses all the extra stuff, a little like a mini pantry. The only problem is that I can end up with several of one item without even realising. I’ve now taken to physically checking and counting what I have. I would automatically throw tinned tomatoes in the trolley without even taking into account the 14 I already had. We obviously weren’t eating them as much as I thought! So go and check everything… freezer, fridge, cupboards, shelves. You’ll be surprised and will very likely find that you have the ingredients for several meals already.
If you find you buy the same kind of things week after week you could consider keeping a list on a spreadsheet (my other great love, apart from bullet points).  When you run out of toothpaste for example you make a note of it on the spreadsheet.  That way, when it comes to doing your next shop you know exactly what you need and what you don’t.
• Grocery shop online
You can check the orders and keep an eye on the total as you go. If you’re getting close to your budget limit, reign it in.  Re-think your menu, double check what you’ve bought, double check the quantities.  Sometimes I’ve clicked several times unwittingly, or a glitch in the system means I’ve ended up with 12 packs of toilet roll.  We don’t need that much.  Not at once anyway!
• Use vouchers, coupons or discount codes
Again an advantage to shopping online is the benefit of using discount codes for money off or free delivery, or even internet only product offers. Again be careful if you are tempted to use a code or coupon for a product you’d not normally buy or use just because it’s offering you a few pence off. Only use these offers if you’re sure you’ll use the product. Of course, if it’s a code for something free, be it free stuff or free delivery, or a code for money off your over all shop, then go wild!
• Don’t shop with kids in tow.
Parents, you know what I mean here! This is yet another advantage to shopping online. They can’t bug you for stuff. And ditto about saving money on painkillers for headaches.
• Cook from scratch
Homemade food tastes better, looks better is healthier and is cheaper. Cooking isn’t a hard skill to learn. You don’t have to make anything complicated or time consuming. And it’s always cheaper to cook a meal yourself than to buy a ready meal.
• Grow your own
Even if you only have a windowsill or a small area for a few containers you can still grow a few basics. You don’t need much space for a tomato plant or two and some cut and come again lettuce.

If you have a little more space you could even consider keeping chickens. We haven’t bought eggs in almost two years now and chickens are extremely low maintenance, not to mention fun to watch.  Just watch out for Foxy Loxy, the horrid creature.

4 thoughts on “10 Painless Ways to Save Money on Groceries

  1. Awesome advice. We grow a small garden every year. My kids love helping plant, water, and pick. Before ,my kids thought food only came from a grocery store. Ha!

  2. really good tips! We have a normal so. Ca size yard, but we have 4 hens, we get great eggs. They are a lot of fun, and yes, pretty low maintenance.

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