During the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us are trying to stretch our limited income as far as possible. One way to do so is to save money while grocery shopping. Here are some ideas on how you can cut down on your food costs.
Preparing to Shop
Before you set foot in the store, plan out what you’re going to cook for the next week. If you head out with a list that you can hold yourself accountable to, you’ll spend less time and money at the grocery store.
Need some help figuring out what to buy? Build your list based on the recipes you want to make for the week.
- Search for recipes online. Supercook allows you to find recipes based on what you already have at home, and Budget Bytes provides an average cost of ingredients or per serving to help you stay on budget.
- Plan recipes by ingredients. If you’re planning on making chicken soup, look into other ways to use leftover egg noodles, chicken broth, and vegetables.
- Plan meals by grocery sales. If chicken breast is 20% off, maybe leave the hamburgers for next week. Prioritizing discounted ingredients makes meal planning more manageable and more affordable.
Whenever possible, use coupons! Take advantage of discount sites like Coupons.com that offer printable or digital coupons and codes for online shopping. During the pandemic, many grocers may prefer, if not require, digital coupons only, so check with your local retailer and plan accordingly.
Hitting the Stores
After you’ve created your list and collected your coupons, you’re ready to go shopping. Here are some strategies to help you resist the urge to add additional items you don’t need to your cart.
- Eat before you go. It sounds simple, but going to the store hungry can be disastrous to your bottom line. If you’re trying to stick to a budget, eating beforehand makes tasty snacks much less tempting.
- Keep a running tab. Use a calculator to add each item to your total as you shop. Doing this can help you be more mindful as you shop by encouraging you to slow down and ask yourself, “Do I need this?”
- Take advantage of store discounts. If the store sells out of a sale item on your list, ask an employee about a raincheck. Even if they are unable to provide one, it never hurts to double-check.
- Look up and down. Stores often put the most expensive items in a section at eye-level, so they’re the first things we see. But if you look up or down a few rows, you might find similar products at a cheaper price.
Hunger Solutions has an excellent resource database to help Minnesotans find food shelves, free meals, discount grocers, and community food distributions near you.
You can also check out our previous post on finding healthy food on a budget for more tips.
Money Management E-Newsletter: August 2020