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How to Make Your Grocery Shopping Go Further

Whether you are out of work, struggling to pay for the cost of childcare or wondering how you will finance Christmas, any areas in life where you can make monetary savings are welcome.

Saving money not only allows us to pay for the essentials in life – food, clothes for your children, your rent or mortgage, utility bills and the rest – it also allows us to put money aside for the future. It’s never too early to start saving; even if you can only put a small amount of money away each month into a savings account ,over time you will see your funds grow. You might even want to set up a savings account for your children; it is quite common for parents to start a college fund for their kids, as the years will soon pass by.

Thinking further down the line, the money you save can be put towards a pension scheme to help support you during your retirement. However you choose to save your money that’s up to you, but one useful way relates to the food we buy and cook; something applicable to us all.

Always make a shopping list
It’s surprising how many women don’t make a list of what they need before they head to the grocery store. You might have an amazing memory or feel that taking the five minutes to write the list is a waste of your already stretched time. However, research shows that having a shopping list is one of the best ways to avoid impulse buys at the grocery store; the very products that can add dollars to your food bill every week. Make a list and religiously stick to it; nothing goes in your grocery cart if it is not on the list. Also by making a list you avoid making extra trips to buy food – you never will just come out of the store with the milk you went into get – saving you money on fuel into the bargain.

Buy in bulk
On the majority of occasions it is cheaper to buy a large pack or a multipack of food items. If you have a big family, this represents no problem. However, if you live alone or there are only one or two others in your household, this should still not be a barrier to making more economical purchases; consider whether fresh items can be frozen, whether you might be able to share the purchase with someone else or whether non-perishable items would last anyway.

Make use of special offers
The grocery store always has a range of special offers designed to save their customers money. As long as you don’t fall into the trap of buying products that you don’t really need, they can indeed do so. Watch out for link saves on multiple perishable items though; if you aren’t able to use them all before they deteriorate, it wasn’t such a good deal after all. For this reason offers on cans, packets and jars of food can provide a better buy, as most of the time they can sit in the cupboard or freezer for months before they need to be used.

Don’t be a brand snob
Always buying the famous brands of food can bump up the cost of your food shop considerably; if you were to start adding some of the own brand goods from wherever you shopped to your grocery cart, you would soon see the savings mount up. The quality of many own brand products is surprisingly good and in taste tests only a small percentage of participants can often tell the difference.

Fresh is not always best
If you only ever buy fresh fruit and vegetables on the assumption that they are better for you, think again. Not only can the vitamin content be lower in fresh varieties – various vitamins deteriorate with time, whereas they are “locked in” on freezing – but they also cost more. Switching over to at least some frozen and even canned or dried fruit and vegetables will provide a healthy saving for your purse. If you must only buy fresh produce, choose those in season, as fruit and vegetables that have travelled half way across the world to the grocery store cost a lot more than those grown in your own state.

Cut back on meat
As meat is often the most expensive part of a meal, if you can eat less it’s a good way to save money. Reduce the meat component by half in meals such as casseroles, curries, chilli and pasta dishes and instead bulk them out with peas, beans or lentils, which are an excellent low fat and filling protein source and cost a fraction of the price of meat.  Eggs are also a cheap protein source; move on from egg on toast to more inventive dishes such as frittatas and Spanish omelettes.

Avoid processed foods
You are paying extra for the convenience that someone else has made the item when you buy processed foods. While making your own cakes and biscuits might seem a chore when you are busy, your kids will be eager to lend a hand, so it can be a good way to amuse them for an afternoon. Staple items such as sauces for pasta and curries, stock and dressings all tend to be cheaper if you make your own.

Cook in bulk
By preparing more for each meal than you need – say double quantities – this is a great way to save time and money. The extra portions can be frozen so that on the days when you are pushed for time, you can have a wholesome meal in minutes. Not only that, but you will also save on your gas or electricity bills, as the time that you will need to heat the second portion through will be much less than if you had made another meal from scratch. Even if you have made a standard portion of a dish and you have an extra serving left – perhaps if one of your kids is out for the evening – never throw that away; it will make the perfect meal for one person, so again pop it in the freezer.

Make use of leftovers
Throwing away a proportion of your weekly food shop wastes money and even if it were only 10%, if you worked out how much this was equivalent to over a year, you would be shocked. Besides only buying as much food as you need, there are other ways around this issue. If you misjudged the number of potatoes to boil or cooked too many green vegetables, these can still be used the following day. Extra vegetables can always be used to make soup, potatoes can be sliced and sautéed, fruit can be turned into a smoothie and meat can be used in a curry. The same principle can be applied to food in the fridge approaching its “use by” date. There are cook books and internet sites devoted to the topic of using up your leftovers, so if you are stuck for inspiration, these can provide you with additional ideas.

Use every last scrap
Even if you aren’t wasting any food, you will still be left with the likes of fruit and vegetable peelings, eggs shells and cardboard containers. Rather than add these remains to the garbage, these can be used to make compost, which you can then add to your garden instead of buying ready-bagged compost. Composter units can be bought relatively cheaply, but to be honest all you need is a wooden frame and something to act as a lid to get you started.

Hope this helps! Thanks Eve! 
L, J, K (Love, Joy, Kindness)

Candace