I really don’t like to shop or go to the mall, but grocery shopping is the exception. I love it. I could spend an hour every day choosing fresh produce for my lunch and a new kind of cheese. My fridge and cupboards are probably stocked with enough to hold a siege for a month. In spite of all that, I manage to keep my grocery bill quite low using those simple tips.
Since I moved to Guatemala, going to the supermarket costs me $20 in gas. You better not forget anything. I make a list of what we usually eat
pasta, rice, potatoes
fruits and vegetables
fish and meat
juice and drinks
cheese and dairy
cans, sugar, salt, spices, flour
and any special ingredients for a particular recipe. Then I buy more expensive items that are on special offer and we don’t eat regularly. Often, you can buy short-dated products at big discounts if you plan appropriately and ensure you use them before they expire. Alcohol is cheap around Christmas. If there is a special on shrimp, I will freeze a few months’ worth.
Cook from scratch
I make most of the food from scratch, including pizza dough, cakes or juice from fresh fruit. It is much cheaper than buying a ready meal and you can freeze several portions in advance for a lazy day.
If you don’t have an ingredient for a recipe, check this substitution table. You can make roughly the same meal using cheaper ingredients, or ingredients that you already have in your pantry.
Get the specials
It is only a bargain if you need it, but if you do need something on offer, stock up on it. Toilet paper and soap never go bad. With several pounds of meat you can prepare sandwich bags with enough meat for one meal and stock your freezer. The special deals will sometimes be cheaper than the store brand, a quick calculation can save you money. Here is Guatemala, strangely, smaller packs are sometimes cheaper than big bulks.
Zero food waste is actually one of my November goals. I rarely waste food but there is always the odd half vegetable or opened cream cheese that we don’t eat fast enough. Organize your meals around the food that will go bad quickly. I have a shelf on the fridge with things that need to be eaten asap. Half an onion and half a tomato can be blended for a breakfast egg sauce or chopped into an omelet.
Leftovers are frozen to avoid eating the same thing several days in a row.
Reuse a leftover white rice into a stir fry, pasta into a pasta salad or a casserole, potatoes into a stew. With a little imagination most of your leftovers can have a second life without being the same meal, and you save money on grocery shopping.
Even a little coriander or basil on your balcony can save you some money. If you are lucky enough to have a bigger patch in your garden, try growing the vegetables you eat the most, and/or the most expensive ones in the store. It is a fun activity too!
The best way to save money on grocery shopping is not to go in the first place. We still need to eat, but now that the supermarket is so far, we go every two weeks, instead of one or twice a week. Then in between, I make another quick trip to a small town nearby and get fresh vegetables and fruit for the week.
This prevents impulse buying and you also save gas money and your time. Some people go grocery shopping once a year, or once every three months. I like my fresh veggies and don’t have the space to stock so much food, that the hot and humid climate would ruin anyway. But going twice a month should be more than enough.
What other tips do you have to same money on groceries?
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