With the cost of feeding ourselves soaring, and groceries falling under the “necessities of life” column, we here at Modern Mississauga want to help save you some cash on this weekly venture.
From timing to planning to a bit of pre-planning and other points in between, here are some ways to save money on food:
- Make a thorough list and stick to it to avoid impulse shopping. While the bargain bins are attractive, they’re not always necessary.
- Plan your meals weekly, which makes the above point easier to follow.
- Look into generic, no-name brands. In some cases, they taste the same as the branded ones.
- Shop at discount grocery stores for pre-packaged goods, such as butter, milk, cereal, eggs, pasta, etc.
- Coupons. Yes, they take a bit of effort to find but they'll pay off at the checkout. Save.ca and CanadianFreeStuff.com are just a few of many sites to explore. Check with your grocery store to make sure they accept online coupons first, though, as some don’t. There are also apps for iOS and Android such as Checkout51 that let you redeem coupons by simply taking a photo of your receipt, with a new list of offers every week.
- Points systems. PC Plus Points are a good way to earn some cash back on your groceries.
- Price matching. It’ll take some effort to wade through the various flyers but you’ll have a chance to save some cash as a result. Again, check with your grocery store first to see if they engage in this activity. A great way to compare flyers right from your smartphone or tablet is the Flipp app, which has flyers for all the major grocers and lets you add virtual clippings from each flyer for items you’re interested in purchasing later.
- Stock up on sale items that are non-perishable. Don’t go out and buy 100 boxes of “Product M,” but if it’s something you regularly consume, consider buying a few weeks’ worth of it. You’ve got to consider kitchen cupboard space as well when buying in large quantities.
- Bring cash only. It’s a good discipline to have and ensures you won’t overspend.
- Use a water filter and reusable water bottle instead of cases of water. They may only be a couple of bucks but it’s far more cost effective to filter your own water. Plus, it’s better for our environment.
- Avoid shopping hungry because you’re at risk to make impulse purchases, stray from your list, and go over your budget.
- Buy in bulk. The Bulk Barn often offers reduced prices from what you see packaged in stores. As a secondary, Costco is a great option if you really need to stock up on non-perishables or if you have a larger family. Do some homework and project if your number of Costco visits will justify the membership cost. A handful of times? Probably not. Weekly or bi-weekly? Probably so.
- Use your calculator to tally your purchases as you put them in your shopping cart/basket so there won’t be any surprises at the checkout.
- Buy less meat and find substitutes for protein. With meat prices going up, it's a good time to look into alternatives such as beans, tofu, lentils, cheese, eggs, chickpeas. If you are buying meat, chat with the person behind the deli counter and ask for their suggestions for less expensive alternatives.
- Take advantage of “Best Before” dates. Most grocery stores will mark down meat as much as 50% if you’re purchasing it on the “Best Before” or “Sell By” date, turning those fancy $25 steaks into $12.50 bargains that you can throw on the grill tonight.
- Be innovative! Buying a couple of potatoes, slicing them and baking them is healthier and most times cheaper than paying a few dollars for a half full bag of chips. Plain Balkan style yogurt is a great alternative to sour cream, homemade Caesar salad dressing is a good chip dip alternative, plus the internet is full of other great suggestions.
If you have your own tips and tricks for saving money on groceries, we’d love to hear them! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or connect with us on social media. We’re friendly and always up for learning new things.