Friday, 8 January 2016

How to shop frugally and still eat well

Inflation has increased everyday expenses and it has become harder to save your pennies. Unfortunately, incomes don't increase as quickly as costs do and, as a result, household expenses keep going up. Food is no exception. Grocery bills continue to climb, yet you know you have to eat. As a result you may be wondering how to eat well and not clean out your wallet in the process.

The good news is you don't have to wipe out your savings account to keep your refrigerator full. Even though the price of food is consistently climbing, by using the following tips, you can still have a good meal and not leave the table hungry.

Prepare meals at home: Stop eating take out and fast food. These are options when you truly have no time, but are costly to your wallet and your health. By preparing meals at home you will save significant dollars. You can buy the ingredients for several meals and it would cost you less than if you'd pay for an order of take-out or a restaurant meal.

Use savings cards: Another way to help keep your pantry stocked frugally is to sign up are all your local grocery stores for their "member's card". They do track your purchases, but in exchange for information they lower the costs when you buy their specials. Recently, I saw a $124 grocery bill drop to $95 with the card alone! The trade off is you give up some information such as sharing your buying habits, so you will have to weigh this out.

Weekly ads: Frequently check the weekly circulars from your favorite stores. There are some great deals to be found, but the trick is to stick to a list and clip out any coupons of items you use. Make sure you don't clip coupons for the sake of clipping because you'll end up buying things you normally wouldn't and, as a result, spend more. Be aware some coupons are only a way to advertise the normal price of an item that you get using the member's card. Coupons and special events are great ways to get deals. For instance, if you watch sales carefully it is entirely possible to obtain four boxes of name brand cereal, which normally cost over $3 each, for roughly $6.

Buy in bulk: If you eat a bowl of oatmeal every morning, try the big 40 oz containers instead of individual packets. They are the same price but you get 30 breakfasts opposed to the 10 you'd get from the packets; a bonus is you can create some new flavors using your own creativity. Additionally, if your favorite grocery items happen to be on sale, be sure and stock up. There may be a limit on how many you can buy, if this is the case, any extra quantity you purchase will help save the pennies.

Be inventive: When I was a bachelor, I came up with dinners using whatever was in the cupboard. There was "bachelor's stew" using tomato sauce and whatever was left over or bachelor's macaroni and cheese. By being a little inventive you can save a trip to the store and stop wasting good food.

Reduce impulse buys: Make a list and stick to it. The store expects and strategically places the goodies around at eye level to get you to spend more. Build your list with pre-planned meals in mind before going to the store. The buy one get one free ice cream is not a deal unless it is actually on your list. Additionally, many impulse buys are made when hungry. Avoid heading to the grocery store before you've eaten, this will cause you to make those impulse buys because everything starts to look good as your stomach is growling. Chances are you will come home with bags full of stuff you'll never eat.

Buy store brands: Try the store brand food, it is cheaper and most of the time is of the same quality. With no fancy packaging and celebrity endorsements to advertise the food, the company can cut overhead costs and pass these savings to the consumer.

By using these tips you will find you'll be able to watch those saved pennies turn into several dollars saved on your weekly grocery bill. Over the course of time those savings will really add up. Before you know it, you'll learn how to be a pro at cutting costs on your grocery bill and still be able to eat well.