Looking for More Ways to Save Money on Groceries?
By Monika Ritchie
To save money on groceries, you likely already shop with a list, look for sales, and use coupons and store cards whenever possible. Are you wondering what else you could be doing to cut back? With grocery prices expected to rise between five and seven percent this year – an increase of $1065 per family compared to 2022 – simply budgeting for groceries is no longer enough. To really make the most of your grocery budget, cooking is an essential skill that will help you save money. The more meals you can make with your groceries, the less food will go to waste and the less you’ll spend on take out and restaurants.
If the thought of meticulous meal planning and stress-filled hours in the kitchen is making your blood boil, we’ve got some straight-forward, fuss-free tips to help you trim your grocery budget and make the most of the food you buy. So, turn up the heat and get back into the kitchen.
Organize Your Shopping List Before Starting to Plan Meals
Whether it’s for food or your finances, we always suggest you get started with a list. If you don’t already shop with a grocery list, this is the time to start. Even as inflation is starting to decrease, food prices continue to rise. Having a list will help you stay on track and avoid needless impulse spending.
To stretch your budget further, make a list of the meals you plan to create out of those groceries. It might seem a bit tedious at first, but you will save a lot of time and money by having a complete plan for what you’re buying and what you’ll be making with it. It doesn’t need to be complicated; we’ve got some ideas to help.
Start With Simple Meal Plans to Save Time and Money
Keep things simple for yourself to save time and money on meal planning. Complex or elaborate meals can be fun on occasion, but to maintain the habit of cooking and meal planning for the long-term, keep it simple and encourage the rest of your family to participate where they can. Here are some tips to get started.
- Making a list of meals you and your family already eat and enjoy. Avoid meals that are difficult to prepare. On a busy or stressful worknight, you’ll be less likely to cook it.
- Go through the list with your family and decide what this week’s “menu” will be. Make sure all those ingredients are included in that week’s grocery list.
- Shop your cupboards before you shop at the store to make sure you’re not buying duplicates of anything.
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Cut Back on Meat to Trim Your Budget
Another quick way to “trim the fat” off your budget (and your meals) is to cut back on eating meat. To avoid food waste, and unnecessary expense, start with a few simple changes. These tips can help you bump up the veggies on your plate and decrease the meat without breaking the bank.
- Start with small steps. Going “full” vegetarian can be a drastic change and an expensive “experiment” if it doesn’t work out.
- Skip the meat not the protein. If you leave out the protein in a meal, you’ll be missing out on important nutrients and you’ll get hungry more quickly.
- Try to include protein-rich, whole foods i.e. lentils, beans, chickpeas, nuts and seeds. Your health and your budget will thank you.
- Chose meat substitutes very carefully. They can cost as much as the real thing and vary in nutrients.
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You Don’t Have to Manage Everything on Your Own
Unless you’re only cooking for yourself, you don’t have to manage these tasks all on your own. In fact, if you try, you’re likely to get overwhelmed and frustrated, especially if it feels like none of the other meal-consuming people in your home are pulling their weight. If you have a family budget and a family grocery list, the rest of the family can be involved in the process. Whenever possible, try to delegate some tasks to other members of your family – we know, this is sometimes easier said than done, but we did say, try.
- Those who enjoy organizational tasks, but not the cooking itself, could take the lead on making the lists and meal plans.
- Others may enjoy the prep work more than the actual cooking. Get them to wash, peel, and chop for you. You won’t believe how much time it can save, and many hands make for lighter work.
- Some people, believe it or not, prefer the clean up to the cooking! Put them to work cleaning up, putting away dishes, and storing, and labelling those leftovers.
- Bonus tip! While packing up the leftovers, don’t forget to pack some for your lunch(es). It’s another big time-saver that will also boost your budget and help you avoid wasting food.
Find Free Recipes, Cooking Tips, and More Online
The internet is a great, budget-friendly resource for any home cook – experienced or just learning. Whether you want to start browsing free recipes, researching nutritional information, or watching step-by-step videos, you don’t have to spend any extra money to get cooking! We’ve added a few below to help get you started.
- Sign up for our next Food and Finance webinar
- Here’s a handy “how-to” article on budget-friendly, balanced, vegetarian meals.
- The AllRecipes.com website has hundreds of free recipes that are also rated by users.
- YouTube has a variety of cooking channels that you can watch for free.
Want Help Saving on Groceries & Finding a Recipe for Financial Success?
Whether you’re struggling to make ends meet or looking to spice up your financial routine, our friendly, accredited financial counsellors are available to help. An appointment to chat about your money might just be the missing ingredient in your quest to save on groceries and get your finances back on track.