Where I live in Grenada, food prices are sky high. I’m not sure if it’s because of the tourism or if it’s just pain expensive to import so many things. Either way, I’ve had to figure out a few ways to cut my grocery budget. The catch is that because I live in Caribbean, the store doesn’t accept regular coupons. They don’t really do that here as far as I know. So, I’ve found a few ways to save money without having to clip them. I know many of you have very busy lives and might not have time to clip either, so here’s hoping these techniques help you as much as they’ve helped me.
1. Buy Off Brand When Possible
Most grocery chains offer their own brand of many items, and they’re usually cheaper than the name brand (especially if you don’t have access to coupons.) Plus, many grocery chains have contracts with manufacturers and guarantee large quantity purchases in exchange for getting to put their own label on the item. So, that off brand tomato sauce is likely to be every bit as good as the name brand sitting next to it.
2. Buy In Bulk
If you have the storage space and the price is right, buying in bulk often decreases the price per unit. For instance, buying dried rice in large quantities often decreases the price per pound. You get more for your money that way. Depending what your grocery store offers, rice, beans, meat, cereal, coffee, cooking oils, and nuts can all be good items to buy in bulk. Pay attention to what you buy most often and see if you can find them in larger quantities. Spend a minute to do the math though, because not everyone reduces the price the more you buy. Sometimes they’re banking that you’ll assume bulk is always cheaper. It’s your job to outsmart them.
3. Avoid the Pre-packaged Kits
I’m just as guilty as the next person for wanting to buy those frozen meals that practically cook themselves. However, I’ve realized that those just aren’t cost effective. I’ve actually found that buying the items separately and prepping them myself saves me money in the long run and never takes as long to make as I’ve envisioned in my head.
4. Use That Membership Card
I know it seems obvious, but this is an easy one to forget. How many times have you dropped into the store to grab something quickly and left your card at home or in the car? Those missed opportunities can add up to a lot at the end of the year, so be sure to have it on you to get the perks.
5. Substitute When You Can
Lastly, if you base your grocery shopping off the recipes you plan to make each week, consider making cheaper substitutions when applicable. Need cake flour? Use a little less all-purpose flour than what the recipe calls for. Does your recipe call for a fancy cooking wine? Use fruit juice. Dried herbs are also a great substitution for buying fresh herbs each week. Even chicken thighs are often cheaper than chicken breasts. Get creative and look around when you’re at the grocery store; you’ll likely see similar but cheaper options that can add just as much flavor, creaminess, etc. to your meal.
I hope these suggestions help you to cut down those grocery bills just a little bit. I know that it’s often difficult to find the time to plan, cut coupons, and remember those grocery cards, but even changing your habits slightly can add up to big bucks saved over the course of a year. Good luck!
photo by qmnonic