Rising costs necessitates creative money management. Shopping for food and grocery items is unavoidable but with a little bit of intelligent planning, we could include the extras which are always welcome and yet ensure that we have a little ‘something' left over for a rainy day.
Here are some tips to help you stretch your funds in a positive way:
Weekly shopping is sensible and cost-effective
To ensure you buy only what you need you should first plan your menu for the week.
You must, however, take into consideration celebrations like birthdays, for which you may need extras.
© Flickr user Michael Stern
At the grocery store or supermarket, shop in a methodical manner. You could buy in bulk, always a cheaper alternative, and share the items with friends and neighbors. Buy seasonal fruits and vegetables, which are sold unpackaged and cheaper cuts of meats. Supermarkets have their own label products which are often less expensive but equally good in quality.
You must always check out special offers. Budget supermarkets offer better value than the major players. Join loyalty programs offered by the shops you visit regularly as you can redeem the points on many essentials.
To cut down on energy costs you should provide yourself with a slow cooker, which will allow you to whip up tasty curries and stews. These dishes do not have expensive ingredients; the time is taken to simmer and cook the meats, making them popular.
Try to cook large portions of food at a time as it always consumes less energy to prepare; the hard work is worth it!
Preserving or canning food or freezing, you must consider these options if you are left with excess. Wastage should be avoided at all costs.
Substitute & Benefit
You have to learn to gain the advantage by varying the items you buy; instead of buying fresh juices buy long-life options or nuts and dried fruits from the grocery section as opposed to the Health Food section. Exchange fresh fruit and vegetables for tinned options and make sandwiches with your favorite fillings instead of opting for the ready-made ones.
It is so easy to subscribe to any of the major supermarkets in your area and shop online. There are sites like mySupermarket.co.uk, which give you comparative prices and availability of each item you may wish to purchase.
You can look for free vouchers, discounts, and home delivery. Singular offers, like ‘two for the cost of one' are tempting. Surfing supermarket websites give you a good idea as to what is on offer; sitting in the comfort and privacy of your home, you could shop within your budget at your own pace.
These days ‘from your garden to the table' is a popular trend, not only in the rural areas but also in the cities. If you have a garden, however small, you could easily grow your favorite herbs and some vegetables. Set aside a patch for this purpose and see how your grocery bills shrink!
Terrace gardens can easily sustain planters. Local councils sometimes have allotments for the purpose of growing food or you could join a community garden project.
Rural England has a wealth of edible fruit, vegetables, and mushrooms. If you have the knowledge and are careful, you could have a great time supplementing your diet with fresh produce.
If you are lucky enough to live near a local farmers' market, you could pick up produce at much cheaper rates because you are buying directly from the source. Your friendly neighborhood greengrocer would probably offer you comparative prices too.
To summarize, what steps should you be taking to lower your expenses on grocery shopping for essentials?
Make lists and more lists, so that you do not overstep the boundaries and limitations of your weekly budget.
Be aware of all that is on offer yet purchase what suits you and not what is on display. Make an educated and responsible choice after weighing all the options.
Learn to cook making use of every ingredient in the best possible way.
Do not be too rigid and bound by what you see in front of you. Be creative in your thinking; it is okay to substitute and reconstruct what you serve.
Online shopping is a boon for many and you must check out all that the web offers to be prudent and careful with your funds. And you can use apps BigOven, and money-off vouchers like myvouchercodes.co.uk and vouchercodes.co.uk that more than cover delivery cost and can chop several pounds off.
Be connected with your local shops. They often have fresh produce at reasonable rates on offer.