Tips for Buying Food on a Budget

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Have you ever gone to the store and bought things you didn’t plan to? Some of us can’t keep track of how many times it happens. But you can stop spending too much on groceries if you learn how to save money on them.

You don’t have to spend a lot of money on groceries to eat well. You can improve your financial health by spending less on groceries. The extra money can be saved, invested, or used to pay off debt.

How much should you spend a week on groceries?

You should spend between 10 and 15 percent of your take-home pay on food. That’s about 4 percent of your net monthly income that you spend each week on groceries, eating out, and other food-related costs.

Say you make $5,000 a month and choose to spend 10% of that on food. Your food costs should not be more than $500 a month or $100 a week.

Don’t put things in your grocery basket that you don’t need anymore. This article will show you how to do it.

Here are some ways to buy food for less money.

1. Plan your meals.

This is all about deciding in advance what you’ll eat each day of the week. You won’t have to think every night about what to have for dinner.

Many people think that planning meals is something only big families do. But it’s good to do even if you’re by yourself. There are a lot of cheap recipes for one person to try out online.

When you plan your meals, you choose what you want to eat for dinner, buy the food you need, and make the meals. Make sure to only write down the days when you’ll be cooking at home.

You can plan your meals on the weekend, when you don’t have as much to do. And you can change your meal plan whenever you want to make it better.

Even though you can order out some nights, meal planning is a great way to cut down on expensive food delivery. It lets you save money, eat healthy meals, and keep food from going to waste.

Want to make it easy and effective to plan your meals? $5 Meal Plan is a service that helps you plan meals and saves you both time and money. If you sign up for their cheap service, they will send you plans for meals.

Try out the $5 Meal Plan for 14 days.

2. Skip the meat.

For many people, meat is an important part of their meals. But you can live a normal life even if you don’t eat meat. In fact, it may even be good for your health.

A study in the Journal of Hunger and Environmental Nutrition found that giving up meat could save you about $750 per year. You can stop eating meat for a week, a month, or longer, depending on how much money you need to save on groceries.

Remember that you don’t have to give up everything at once or for good. Start by taking out one meat dish at a time to make the change easier. You can even save some recipes with meat for special occasions only.

Try some new dishes if you want to stop eating meat. You might have never tried these things because you always had meat on your plate. This will keep you from thinking about meat, so the change won’t be hard.

3. Find recipes that use the ingredients you have.

Don’t let certain ingredients go bad because you haven’t used them. You also don’t need to go to the store to buy more things when you’re on a budget.

You might be surprised by how many meals you can make with the food you already have. And there are a lot of websites with recipes that you can look at.

Supercook is one of these sites. You only need to choose everything you have in categories like dairy, vegetables, fruits, and more. There’s even a microphone feature that lets you say only what’s in your fridge or pantry.

As you add items to the site, it will give you ideas for recipes. You’ll also see what else you need to make a certain dish.

4. Make a list of what you need and stick to it.

When shopping for food on a budget, a grocery list is helpful. It makes sure nothing important is left out. Even better, it keeps you from buying things you don’t really need.

It’s best to make a list of things to buy at the store a few days before going. For a list to work, you need more time to make changes that make sense.

Write down how many of each item you need. By only buying a certain amount, you save money and don’t have to go to the store every day. So, there will be less temptation to spend.

Unless you’ve never been to a store before, you probably know where everything is. It’s good to organize the list so that you don’t have to go back and forth to get different groceries.

You’ll spend less time shopping this way. The result is that people buy less or not at all on a whim.

5. Use apps that give you money back.

Want to know how to use your phone to save money on groceries? There are a number of apps that give you rewards for shopping in stores or online.

Ibotta is an app that gives you cash back when you buy groceries.

How does the app work?

Set up an account on your phone after you’ve downloaded the app.

Find items on Ibotta that are also on your list of things to buy at the store. There will be tasks you need to do before you can get your money back. You can do things like take polls, watch videos, and write short reviews.

Buy the things: You have to buy something from a store that Ibotta works with. Some deals only work at certain stores.

Show proof of purchase: Once you’ve bought something, go to Ibotta and click “Redeem.” Choose the store where you bought something and take a picture of your receipt.

Get paid: When Ibotta confirms your purchase, you get cash back. To cash out, you’ll need at least $20.

Linking your loyalty card to Ibotta is another way to prove that you bought something. You can also shop through the app and automatically get the rewards.

Shopping at Tada is another great way to get cash back when you buy groceries. The app can be used in many stores, including the ones you like best.

6. Find out what’s for sale.

Every time you plan to go grocery shopping, it helps to know what’s on sale. You have a chance to save money on food.

Visit the website of a certain grocery store to see if an item you need is on sale. Stores that have social media pages also put this kind of information on those pages. You could also look at billboards, sale flyers, and other kinds of print ads.

You might see some patterns and be able to figure out when different foods are on sale. Wouldn’t it be great to be among the first to take advantage of such deals?

7. Eat before you go shopping for food.

Go to the grocery store when you’re hungry if you want to be more tempted to buy things you don’t need. Your body will tell you to put everything that looks good in a shopping cart.

Even if the grocery bill is high, you probably won’t think twice about paying it. But you might change your mind after you’ve left the store and taken care of your “hunger.”

The best way to avoid buying food on a whim is to go grocery shopping after you’ve eaten something. It can help to have a snack or two before going to the store. But it’s best to only go there after you’ve eaten.

8. Don’t shop with people who spend too much.

People you’re with can sometimes make you spend more money. You might want to make them happy because they are good at persuasion.

Most of the time, this is how their parents and older siblings feel about them. If you want to save money for bigger things, you have to go to the grocery store without them. Teaching them about money goes a long way toward making them good spenders.

It could also be a friend who makes you buy things you don’t need. If you want to save money when you go grocery shopping, it’s best to leave them at home. There’s always time to make up for lost time.

9. Go for a small basket.

Some grocery stores have big baskets and shopping carts near the front door. But that’s not enough to make you want to take them. It’s best to find a smaller basket that can hold all of the things you want to buy.

There are a few reasons why a big cart might not be the best choice. One of them is that you might feel the urge to fill up the whole cart. You might not want people at the checkout to wonder why there aren’t many things in the bag.

So, choose a smaller option or carry just one or two things by hand. Don’t let a big basket get in the way of how much money you have for groceries.

10. Figure out how much it will cost as you shop.

As you add things to your basket or cart, it’s helpful to know how much the whole thing will cost at each step. This step can help you think twice about buying some expensive things and find cheaper ones instead.

Your phone’s calculator comes in handy here. Most of them have everything they need. If you want a calculator with more features, you can get one from your app store.

If you know how to add numbers, you can just do it in your head. Rounding up the prices would also help.

Veggies that cost $2.79 should be counted as $3. Or they charge $3.50 for a bunch of fruit that costs $3.19.

This is a must if you want to stay within your grocery budget. You know what to expect when you get your bill.

11. Check out the shelves.

When shopping, many people only pick up things that are at eye level. This habit could make you miss out on ways to save money on groceries.

Some grocery stores put their most expensive items where they are easy to see and grab. It’s a trick that can make you spend more money on the things you buy.

When shopping for groceries, it’s a good idea to check both the top and bottom shelves. You might find cheaper products or special deals that let you put the extra money toward something else.

Remember that this strategy won’t work in all stores and on all shelves. There are times when the best deals are on the middle shelf. But you should check the other shelves to see if there are any deals you can take advantage of.

12. Check the “best by” or “use by” dates.

People often don’t check expiration dates until they get home from the store. When this happens, all you can do is try to finish the item before it goes bad.

But if you look at the “best before” or “expiration” date at the store, you won’t buy things that won’t last long enough before you use them. This way, you can save money on groceries because you won’t have to throw them out as often.

Aside from that, you also enjoy your groceries when they are still of good quality. Even more money can be saved if you eat well.

13. Buy things that aren’t in packages.

When you buy a fruit, vegetable, or other item that is well-packaged, part of the price goes toward the packaging. That’s because of the materials, people, and ways they were made. Most things cost less if they don’t come in a box or if the box is plain.

A lot of big brands like to put their products in fancy boxes. This means that if you buy generic or store brands, you may spend less money on groceries.

Compare the prices of packaged and unpackaged items when you go grocery shopping on a budget. You might be surprised at how much money you can save each week. You can buy individual packages if you need them to carry meals and snacks.

14. Don’t buy more food than you need.

If you like to buy in bulk, you might want to buy more than one of an item so you don’t have to go to the store as often. But doing this can make your food costs go up.

If you buy more perishable foods than you can use, they are likely to go bad before you can use them. It’s best to make sure that the size fits you well and saves you money.

Compare prices per unit to see if buying a certain amount will save you money and time in the long run. If you have a small family or live alone, going to the store more often than other people to save money shouldn’t hurt.

15. Use cash to pay.

Credit cards are great for making payments quickly and safely. You can even get paid to use them. But they aren’t the best way to pay if you aren’t careful with your money.

Because if you spend money that isn’t really yours, you could end up with more debt. And a few late payments with fees and interest could hurt your credit score.

So, you should start buying things with cash. Cash payments make it easier to keep track of how much you spend. If you know how much money you have, you won’t buy something you can’t pay for at the time.

It’s best to pay for groceries every week with cash and leave your credit cards at home. Even though it can be hard, you’ll save money and stay out of debt.

16. Visit more than one grocery store.

When it comes to grocery shopping, everyone has their own style. You might like a certain grocery store because of how they treat their customers. So you make it a habit to go shopping there often.

But you should also pay attention to how much food costs. If you always go to the same grocery store, you might be missing out on better deals.

Go shopping at a different store every week to see if you can find cheaper things elsewhere. You can even ask friends who shop at different stores to tell you how much things cost.

If there are deals that can help you save money on food, take advantage of them. Again, don’t buy more than you need because you think prices will go back up.

17. Do your shopping for food online.

Another way to save money when grocery shopping is to order things online. You just need to go to the website of your favorite store. Most of them offer the chance to shop online.

You don’t have to go to a store if you use this method. It gives you a chance to stick to your budget because you won’t be tempted to spend as much.

The reason is that you can’t see and touch real things when you shop online. Some people only need to smell good food to decide they can’t stick to their budget anymore.

Also, when you shop online, you can see how much the whole thing will cost before you buy it. When you’re at the checkout in a store, you don’t have much time to change your mind.

You can save more money when you shop online by taking advantage of daily deals, free shipping, and other deals.

In fact, it would be great if you could use MyPoints to buy groceries online and get points for it.

18. You can buy something online and pick it up in a store.

This means that you shop online and then pick up your items at the grocery store. If you need food right away and want to save money and time, this is a great choice.

After you choose the things you want, a store worker packs them all up and tells you to come get them. Most of the time, there is a specific place in the store where these orders can be picked up.

Some stores even let you pick up your order at the curb. You can do your shopping without getting out of your car.

You just need to park your car near the store and let them know you’re there. The things you ordered will be brought to you by a worker.

When you’re on a tight budget, these convenient services let you avoid paying high delivery fees.

19. Eat what is in season.

Want to save money on groceries without giving up good food? Eat what’s good right now.

At different times of the year, different vegetables and fruits do well in a certain area. It helps if you know these things about where you are.

When there are a lot of a certain type of food, the prices go down. Because of this, your monthly food costs will be low.

But if you buy fruits and vegetables that aren’t in season, you’ll probably spend more. Because there aren’t many of them in your area. So, it’s harder for suppliers to get it from other places, which makes transportation and other costs go up.

Use the Seasonal Food Guide to find out about the foods that are in season in the US. You only have to choose your state and the time of year to see what options are available. If you live somewhere else, a few online searches can help you a lot.

20. Keep food in the right way.

If you store your groceries right, they will last longer. And because you waste less food, this can keep your food costs down.

Set up your food storage so you can find what you’re looking for quickly. You don’t want to have to go to the store to buy something you already have but put in the wrong spot.

Clean your fridge, cabinets, and any other places you store food often to make sure there’s no spoiled food or spills that can cause you to throw away more food.

If your fridge is broken, you should fix it. Even if it’s too old, you can replace it because it will save you money in the long run.

21. Use your leftovers.

Some people have always been in the habit of throwing away food. But if you want to save money on food, you shouldn’t do it. When food is stored correctly, it stays good to eat for a longer time.

Start putting some of the food you cook in the freezer and reheating it the next day. Depending on the food, it might last longer than a day if the right conditions are met. Food that has been cooked is safe to keep for less than a week.

Another thing you can do with leftovers is to make another meal out of them. For example, cooked rice that has been left over can be fried to make a new dish. You can get more ideas by looking up some recipes.

22. Grow food yourself.

If you have a garden that you don’t use, it’s time to start growing food in it. Even if you don’t have a backyard, you can grow a single plant like a tomato in a small space.

It helps to find out what plants do well in your area during certain times of the year. You can buy the seeds and young plants you want to grow from a nearby business or farmer. You also need to get the things the plants need.

When you grow your own fruits, vegetables, and herbs, you can cut or even get rid of your grocery budget. Also, gardening is a good way to make extra cash as a hobby. You make money by selling seedlings, organic food, or things that are made from it.

23. Bring your own bags.

One easy way to save money on groceries is to bring your own bag that you can use again and again. You won’t have to buy a new bag every time you go grocery shopping, which will make your house less cluttered.

Some stores will give you a discount if you bring your own bag. You can ask about these discounts at your favorite store if you want to.

Most of the time, each bag costs only a few cents. Even though the money you save might not be much, it helps you spend less on food.

Grocery shopping on a tight budget shouldn’t stress you out.

You may have found one or more ways to save money at the grocery store by now. All you have to do is change some of your habits and make some new ones.

If you use one or two of the tips on this list, you can make your grocery budget work. Each one can help you save more money on groceries if you try it.

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