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Produce at a grocery store. [CREDIT: Pixabay.com]

Saving money at the grocery store starts at home

In my last blog post, I promoted our new class, How Food Waste Impacts your Life. In this blog post, we will begin to examine how your shopping habits can really ramp up your weekly grocery bill.

Have you ever looked at your spending habits in the store? Are you an impulse buyer or do you stick to your grocery list? Saving money at the grocery store not only helps keep your monthly spending down, but it also has an impact on our environment by controlling the amount of food you throw away. We all like to save money. So, let’s look at some ways we can change our behaviors to reduce our food bill while reducing the environmental impact at the same time.

Saving money at the store actually starts at home. Creating at least a five-day meal plan helps you create a shopping list with food items you need. Take a look inside your refrigerator to see if anything needs to be eaten soon, before it expires? Are there foods you have left that have expired or have rotted in their packaging? This is food waste that has just impacted your budget.

Consuming foods before they get old or have expired is important to saving money. Create menus that will use the foods you purchase on a weekly basis. Take a look inside your pantry and see if any food items are about to expire and what you have on hand. Use these foods in next week’s meal plan. Know what you have in your pantry, and remember the first-in, first-out (FIFO) approach. Keep an eye on those expiration dates, and rotate your canned foods.

When creating those menus, think about what meals your family enjoys and your available time to prepare those meals. Can some preparation be done ahead of time? If you are busy all day, what is your energy level when you need to start preparing the evening meal?  Its important to think ahead and plan. Create a grocery list from your meal plan that should include those items in your pantry and refrigerator.

You’ve planned and prepped, and you’re ready to shop. Right? Maybe not. Did you eat? This often-overlooked step often leads to shoppers buying more food. than needed out of hunger.

Next, shop alone. You will spend more money at the store if you have others with you. Children, spouses, partners and friends all have ideas of what foods you should be purchasing. Shopping alone gives you a better chance to stick to your grocery list.

Another tip is to use store advertisements wisely. That means if you really don’t think you will use the item, don’t make a “just in case” purchase. Try using online and store coupons whenever possible, but look to see make sure the coupon-discount price is actually the least expensive. Pay attention to specials,  especially “buy one, get one” items.

Finally, be flexible with your menu. If you had green beans on the menu but broccoli is on special (and your family likes broccoli), then make the change. Avoid buying those unnecessary items. Even getting a discounted price doesn’t make for a good value if no one eats the food.

In my next blog, we will take a look at some more money-saving tips while grocery shopping.

SERIES

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