Saving money on groceries can be a fastidious task that requires a lot of pre-planning, mental energy and a desire to try new things.
While we can find ways to save on groceries by buying different brands, or simply making cheaper meals; sometimes we need to go back to basics and consider ways to simply buy less groceries.
The less we buy, the less we spend, the more we save.
This is where a minimalist mindset can be of benefit to you. To live minimalist is to own less, make do with what you have and more importantly; buy less stuff (groceries in this case).
This guide will show you how to do a little less grocery shopping, become mindful of what you spend on groceries and re-evaluate how to simply get by with less when doing a grocery shop at your local supermarket.
Buy your food unprepared
If something comes pre-made, prepared, sliced, diced or cooked; it will cost you more. The more food you can purchase that is yet to be prepared, requiring you to do the work, the more money you will save. It also tends to be significantly healthier too.
For instance, years ago we used to buy blocks of Cheddar Cheese for Taco night. Everyone in the family had a chore to help prepare dinner; mine was grating the block of cheese. Now days most families simply buy a packet of shredded cheese. This convenience costs money and takes up more space.
Buy fresh fruit and veg in exact quantities
Try to become more minimalist in assessing the quantities of fresh fruit and vegetables that you need per week. Often we simply grab a handful of this, or two to three of this. The trick to doing a little less shopping and saving money on your grocery bill is to calculate exact quantities ahead of time and not over buying. We waste far too much food as is.
An example of this is if you are making a salad, figure out the exact per person quantity. Half of a tomato each, a quarter of an avocado per plate, a full cucumber per person and so on.
We have previously spoken about ways to save money by focusing on size here.
Only buy bulk if you must
Buying in bulk traditionally has the ability to reduce your grocery costs, however when trying to be minimalist it ends up taking up more room and can lead to overbuying, thus overspending or what we like to call spaving (spending to save money).
Try to only buy bulk groceries when it suits you and makes perfect sense. Things like toilet paper and paper towels are good examples of this. Don’t naturally assume that buying in bulk will save money.
Try instead to simply need less by consuming less.
Every item you buy in your grocery shop should fit into a planned meal
This means that every item you purchase should be assigned to a specific meal; whether it be breakfast, lunch or dinner. No snacks, treats or cupboard fillers.
Buy less by simply assigning every item to a known meal between now and your next grocery shop.
Use environmental bags to do your grocery shopping
Reducing your plastic reliance doesn’t necessarily save you money, but it does help the environment and reduce your waste. Plastic bags are polluting the oceans and harming marine species. Opt to buy some reusable bags and always take them shopping with you.
The added bonus here is that the bags are easier to carry, less heavy and make shopping a little more organised.
Don’t buy items in the grocery store checkout aisle
Items in the checkout aisle are there to make you spend money.
You don’t see BBQ chickens in the checkout lane because it’s not something we can easily consume or see ourselves using. Instead we see things like chocolate bars (hungry?), magazines (bored?) and drinks (all this chocolate and reading is making me thirsty!).
Instead of looking at these items or contemplating them, use your time at the supermarket checkout to organise your groceries as you put them on the conveyer belt (to make it easier when you unpack at home). Perhaps even prepare how you are going to pay for the items, the loyalty cards you may need to show to earn points and whether you have any coupons ready to claim.
Use the checkout aisle as the preparation time to complete a successful grocery shop.
Opt for items with less packaging
Try to avoid products that use excessive packaging. Often you are paying extra for your groceries that not only come pre-prepared but heavily wrapped or packaged. It is also bad for the environment and another way to avoid paying for convenience.
The less packaging you acquire in your shopping trolley, the healthier and cheaper the groceries will be that you take home.
Stop buying bottled drinks
Beyond milk, how much money is wasted on bottled water, soft drinks and juices? We are buying these things to quench our thirst yet have water flowing from taps 24/7.
Avoid paying for anything other than milk. Save the money instead and remove a whole product class from your weekly grocery shop.
Do a stocktake of the cupboard before you do the groceries
To buy less, you need to know what exactly you already have. When you do a grocery shop, you should be doing so on a ‘needs basis’ not a ‘wants basis’. This means only buying groceries you actually need; not simply ‘want to try’ and ‘might use at some point’.
Doing a stocktake of the cupboards and pantries is the easiest way to do this. Before you leave, check what you have and assess what you need.
Clean your fridge weekly and know what you have inside
Similar to checking your cupboard, you fridge holds the answers to many money saving questions. What items do you regularly not use and have to throw out? What do you already have?
Check your fridge for these answers and often you will quickly find yourself buying less at the supermarket straight after.
Stop forgetting one ingredient
All too often people forget one magic ingredient for a recipe or dish. Try and pre-plan your shopping to always avoid this as the goal to saving money on groceries is to visit the supermarket less. The more you find yourself at the shops, the more money you are tempted to spend and consume.
Don’t be loyal to brands, try new items and specials all the time
To truly be minimalist, you need to be open to buying less or more of an item depending upon it’s value or price. If something is on special one week, switch to that brand and give it a go.
The less loyal you are to a brand, the more money you save.
Opt to avoid a grocery shop altogether
For the truly frugal grocery shoppers; why not try and avoid a weekly grocery shop altogether? Your house will have less food and waste and your weekly savings will increase.
You could do this by trying the no new food challenge for 7 days and missing a grocery shop altogether.
Buy less, save more
It’s really that simple. To save money on groceries, either employ a range of sophisticated tactics to get cheaper items or simply do as stated above; buy less.