Grocery Shopping on a budget... because sometimes you gotta pay bills

Budgeting isn't that fun, especially if it means favorite foods get the cut out... but wait, do you know you can still eat well and make damn tasty meals on a budget? Who knew?! Shopping on a budget means a little bit of planning and comparison, but once you have nailed that, it's a good time and you can save your pennies for other things, like the power bill (sigh).  Here are my top tips for shopping on a budget. 

Meal Plan

Each Sunday I sit down and plan meals for the following week. Meals are organised around what is already in the fridge/freezer and pantry, and then I check out what foods are on sale at the supermarket, which is easy to do if you have the internet and a phone/laptop.  This works well as it means you can prep ahead of going to the supermarket with no idea what to make, and buying ingredients that you aren't going to use or that you don't really need.  

Make a list

Take a list of what you need (not what you want).  Also please don't go to the supermarket when you are hungry, or the tempation is too real and that wagon of brie may fall into your trolley.  Food shopping whilst hungry = recipe for disaster. 

Shop in season

There is nothing like a sweet strawberry in the middle of the winter, but sustainability, health - and budget-wise, it’s not the way to eat. Shopping locally forces you to learn about the seasonality of food which will help you save money. When you are eating fruit and vegetables that are in season, it is going to be better tasting, and will contain more nutrients compared to produce that is not in season and is shipped to a far away location.  Also strawberries transported to NZ from the USA when it's Winter = not a great carbon footprint. 

Buy local

Buying local can often save you money because there are fewer hands involved. For example, if you buy vegetables from the produce stand on the corner you will most likely save money because the farmer doesn’t have to increase his costs to pay all the people involved in getting it on the shelves, unlike the supermarkets. Locally produced foods such as fruit and vegetables, honey, free range meats and nut butters can often be purchased from local farmers markets, and you are supporting the local community. Its a win win! 

Shop from the bulk bins

Buying grains, nuts and seeds, spices and dried beans can be cheaper when bought from the bulk bins opposed to buying it in packets from the shelves... also, less plastic.  If you only need a small amount for meals, you can purchase the exact amount you need from the bulk bin. There are lots around now and google is your best friend for finding out where.  

Substitute with frozen

Frozen fruit and vegetables are a great way to save money on groceries as you can buy larger amounts and keep them on ice until you need. If you are after fruit or veges that aren't in season it can often be cheaper down the freezer aisle. Frozen berries vs fresh berries are often cheaper, same goes for peas, beans and mixed vegetables for stir fries. 

Try different cuts of meat

Trying out different cuts of meat can often make a huge saving to your grocery bill. Choose more affordably priced choice cuts of beef instead of pricier prime cuts. Cheaper cuts can often mean more fat too, which in my opinion, is a lot tastier eg chicken thigh gets my vote over breast.  Snatch up packages of meat that have been marked down for quick sale and then use them by the date on the package or freeze them for later use. Cutting down on meat and trying out more vegetarian options can often help keep the grocery bill down. And, shop from your local butcher, it's most likely cheaper and fresher.  

Grow your own

One of the best ways to save money on fruit and vegetables is to grow your own.  It's like printing money! Obviously this is easier said than done, but if you don’t have space start with herbs - mint, basil, parsley and coriander growing on your bench top in the kitchen. If you do have space to grow your own produce, kale, lettuces, tomato, cucumber and peas are all relatively easy to grow and look after.

Would love to hear your tips on how you grocery shop on a budget? Lx