While I was in London something that really impressed me was the cost of groceries. It was probably why I didn't eat out as much. Lidl was within walking distance of my flat. It reminded me Aldi's, which I was happy to see is also in London. You have to bring your own bags, otherwise bags can cost 5P and up. But everything was cheap. I got desserts for 60-90P and enough groceries to cook for nearly 2 weeks for under £30. But when I got back home and had to restock my fridge, I was outraged to see my groceries come to over $30 for items I could check out in the express lane. I knew immediately that I was doing something wrong. Especially because I had to go back twice afterwards over the span of two weeks. So after giving it some thought, I realised I needed a better strategy for saving money at the food store. I put my strategy to the test and it worked! So here are the 5 tricks I use to save money at the food store.
1. Make a list based on meal plans
It may seem cheesy but I save more money when I make a list based on meals I plan on preparing. I look at recipes, look at which ingredients I already own, then write down the ones I need to buy. You can use pen and paper or your cellphone. I get extra organised by writing the name of the recipe and then the necessary ingredients underneath. How does this save money: Choose recipes that use the same ingredients so you won't have to buy too many different ingredients. Also choose recipes you would realistically make during that week. And once you have a plan it's easier to stay on target.
2. Use a Reusable Tote
While it may take some of the local packing boys some getting used it, there are many benefits to using a reusable tote bag. Not only is it better for the environment, but it helps to keep you on task because you can't buy what you can't tote home. Lately I made a vow to use my tote bags instead of plastic so I always carry two tote bags with me to the store (they're not that big) but I can fit $60 worth of groceries in those bags.
3. Wait for the price to drop
Just because something is in season doesn't mean the price will always be low. One week the price of strawberries were $5.99, I went back the next week and the price dropped to $3.99 (which let's face it is the cheapest it's going to get here). They're always changing the price of fresh produce so keep an eye out.
4. Don't do all of your shopping in one place.
I recently started shopping at Solomon's Fresh Market again because of the wider variety and comparable prices, but there are still some items that are considerably cheaper elsewhere like SuperValu and Meat Max. However, I would never buy fresh produce from Meat Max or any Chinese food store and I would never get berries from SuperValu because I can buy mixed berries at Fresh Market, much cheaper. So learn which store sells what at the best price and plan your best gas route.
5. Use your stamps
In the Bahamas, we don't really have coupons or rewards cards. But SuperValu stamps are a godsend. I enjoy collecting them and saving them until I have about $20 worth of stamps. There's something exhilirating about watching your total be cut in half. Some people are more extreme than I am and save $60 or more in stamps. I always keep an eye out for stamps on the ground in public and once found almost 12 stamps just lying on the ground. Also if you go to SuperValu on Sundays, you get double stamps!