Pre-pandemic lockdown, I used to go to the grocery store EVERY SINGLE DAY, and those trips where I needed just one thing (often fruits and vegetables) I would come away having easily spent +$30, often on unnecessary treats. But since March 2020, I’ve been limiting my supermarket shops to once a week, and I’ve found that doing this not only saves me time, but also saves me money.
Here are my top 5 tips for shopping on a budget:
- Write a shopping list. I keep a notepad close to my kitchen and whenever I notice I am low on an ingredient I add it to my list. I also sit down once a week and meal plan (you can watch my YouTube video on weekly planning here) so I know what meals I am going to make and then go through my fridge, freezer and cupboards checking to see what I need to buy. And then the most important part of this is, DON’T LEAVE THE LIST AT HOME WHEN YOU GO SHOPPING!!!!
- My local supermarket offers a points system as part of their loyalty card. Now it’s by no means packed with fantastic points deals, but every little helps. By some fancy magic, aka Big Brother is watching, I get offered points deals each week on the items that I am likely planning on buying. So logging into the app before I go shopping, which takes me less than 1 minute to do, allows me to bank 1,000s of points each shop. Within 3-4 months, I’ve saved up enough points to get my whole weekly grocery shop completely free.
- Go to the supermarket as soon as it opens. I know this isn’t possible for everyone, but I find when I go within an hour of the store opening, there are significantly more deals to be had. Often fruit, vegetables, baked goods, etc are discounted if they are a couple of days old. I often pick up apples, cherry tomatoes, bell peppers, butternut squash, oranges, etc that are 50% off. Now, granted, some of this discounted food is past its best, but more often than not it’s absolutely fine and is perfect if cut up and put in the freezer to be used another day.
- I try not to be blinded by the extras tempting me that weren’t on my list. This is definitely hard some days when the sweet and salty popcorn has been strategically placed at the checkout (I swear that was done on purpose to test me!). I ask myself, do I really need this popcorn/chips/flavoured coffee/chocolate/salted nuts, or am I just hungry for it right now. Nine times out of 10 I won’t give in to the temptation cause I know as soon as I get home I’ll be annoyed at myself for being lured into buying the deliciousness when I don’t really need it.
- Sticking to a shopping list and not buying extras eliminates wasted food. This is one of my biggest pet peeves – if I am buying exactly what I need for the week, and know which day I am eating it, then I know fruit and vegetables won’t go bad and need to be thrown out, which is essentially throwing money straight in the bin.
Pandemic life has been incredibly hard, but I am grateful that I have been given this opportunity to learn how to limit my supermarket trips to once a week and really be mindful of what I am buying.
If you have any other tips to shop on a budget, please leave them below. Thanks for reading!
HELLO, I’m Gillian, a running and nutrition coach based in Toronto, Canada. Thank you so much for taking the time to read this post, it really means a lot to me. If you are interested, I have MORE:
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