It's essential to have a healthy diet that doesn't bust your budget. Healthy eating on a budget can be done using The 3 P's method. The 3 P's are planning, purchasing, and preparing. Planning your meals, purchasing cost-effective grocery items, and preparing your meals at home can help you eat well on a limited budget. Here are a few tips on saving money when grocery shopping.
You can save lots of money on couponing if the coupons are for things you usually buy. Coupons for staples like rice, canned vegetables, and freezer items can help you save money on your grocery shopping if they are in your meal plan for the week or month. If you see a coupon in an advertisement, but it's not something that you usually buy, try to avoid purchasing these items that you rarely or may never use. I'm sure you've probably seen a preview of the show Extreme Couponing, and they save hundreds of dollars and spend $20 on their grocery bill. However, those items stay in their garage or pantries for months, or the shoppers end up giving the food away to their neighbors. So, skim the ads and select the coupons for items on your grocery list.
Use A Grocery List
Creating a weekly or monthly meal plan can help you build your grocery list. You may already have some meals that you eat regularly. For me, my lunch stays the same every day. So, when I create my list, these items are at the top because I know I will need to restock. When you make your grocery list, check your pantry, refrigerator, and deep freezer to see what items you already have. This can reduce the need to spend extra money on food you already have. The most important aspect of taking a grocery list into the store is eliminating wandering around in the aisles because you can't remember what you need to buy.
Don't Shop Hungry
Now that you've entered the store with your coupons and grocery list, it's time to shop. But, try not to shop while you're hungry! Shopping while you're hungry can make everything look so tempting, and you can fill your grocery cart with food that you don't even need. Typically, when I shop hungry, I fill my cart with quick snacks or junk food that I did not plan to buy initially. A good rule of thumb is to shop after breakfast or lunch so you'll be back home in time to prepare dinner at home.
Name Brand or Generic
Are you loyal to name brand items when it comes to grocery shopping? Name brand items may have a generic version available on the grocery shelf. You may not notice them initially, but if you look on the bottom shelves of the grocery store, you can find a comparable item at a lower price. Name brand and generic items have very similar ingredients and nutrients, but the cost differs. In searching my Walmart app, I found name brand Quaker Oats for $2.38 and the exact size generic oatmeal for $1.56. This is just one example of name brand versus generic, and there are many other comparisons. The cost of being loyal to name brand items can add up in one year.
Meal Prep At Home
Preparing your meals at home can be more cost-effective than eating out. You can also end up with leftovers that can be eaten the next night or frozen for future meals. Eating out may be quicker, but is it better for your health or wealth? Eating out is expensive and should be used as an occasional luxury even when you're not on a limited budget.
A Meal Comparison
Eating a home-cooked meal for a family of four could cost about $3 per person compared to $7 per person for fast Food. Here's a price comparison.
Home Cooked (family of four)
Great Value 3lb bag of chicken breast: $7.14
Uncle Ben's Box of Rice Pilaf: $1.98
Del Monte Can of Asparagus: $2.98
Fast Food (for one)
Whopper Meal: $7
Plus Tax (7%): $0.49
Cooking at home for a family of four could save you money and leave you with leftovers for another meal. If you ate out twice a week for a month, you could spend approximately $119. So, what's on your plate?