Every time you throw something out of the fridge, you're also throwing out cash. Money you spent to feed yourself and your family, that now won't get to do its purpose. While the food itself may have gone bad, the money you spent didn't lose any of its already used value. However, there are a number of steps you can take to help reduce the amount of waste, all while saving money. Just by planning better and shopping less often, you can work to even out your grocery shopping habits.
Save as much as possible – while wasting as little as possible – with these easy tips:
Virtually every grocery store releases a weekly ad to let shoppers now what's on sale. Whether you get this in the mail or check in online, use these prices to create your weekly shopping list. It's a surefire way to get the lowest prices, and will help you base meals off a budget, not what "sounds good" the next time you're browsing grocery shelves.
This will cut way back on what you need vs. what's draining your funds. Pick up all of your groceries at once, and plan for entire meals when doing so. You can, of course, miss out on an item here and there – but chances are you can make do and save yourself the hassle and the expense.
Don't let those extras just sit in the pantry and collect dust, use them! Best-case scenario: pair them with your biggest sales for the week. However, you can also pick up new items in order to use what you have on hand. This is a step that will cut back on expenses, and bring you extra storage space into the pantry.
Just because something isn’t on sale doesn't mean it's not priced at a good value. Plenty of stores keep regular deals on hand, while in contrast, there are those who jack up prices on purpose, only to slash them in order to sell. Instead of looking for these hidden tricks, understand your price point and know what's considered fair. This will allow you to save and shop, while cutting out additional legwork.
Again, it's all about value. Check the price-per-ounce (provided by the grocery store on the tag), then compare how much will actually be able to be eaten by your family. It's true that bulk items are often cheaper, but when it's something that expires quickly, it often goes bad before you can eat it. In these cases, shop smaller (or freeze) so you're getting the biggest value for your dollar.
There's coupons for everything these days. Save $.50 here, $1.15 there – if you're spending big, the freebies can really add up. However, nothing saves more than not buying something at all. While coupons are certainly your friend, be sure to save them for foods you actually need. Don't go buying something just because "it's a good deal."
If something is easy to get to, it's likely because stores want you to buy it – for instance, because it's over-priced. Instead of shopping for the obvious, dig deeper and get some deals. Some of the hardest places to get to are up on high shelves, clear at the bottom of aisles, and into any bargain sections, which are often dead ends or around a corner.
If it comes ready to eat – such as a veggie platter, sandwich, cheese tray, etc. – it's likely because it's over-priced. While there is less work to do, there is also less food. You're essentially paying for the grocery store's time, not their product.
Fruits and veggies are grown year-round, but depending on the time of year, they might have to travel significantly. In order to save, choose items that are in-season, and therefore weren't shipped. This reduces price through travel fees alone, and allows you produce that's fresher while costing less.
End-cap items can be tempting, and when you're hungry there are so many items that catch your eye – but don't stray! Picking up even one extra item can get expensive when it's done every single time. If it's a necessity, put it on the list, otherwise, leave it alone.
Never. Don't do it. It won't work – trust us. You'll end up with one of everything and no money in the bank.
To avoid over-spending, don't re-stock items until they're dangerously low. This goes for pasta, rice, beans, frozen veggies, or anything else that won't go bad. Then, buy in bulk to get a better price. It's a step that will keep your cabinet full for the long haul, and save you from having to re-stock as often.
This stuff is expensive. If you can stand to eat less of it (while filling in on protein through other foods), it's a step that could save you some serious dough. Beans, nuts, and dairies are all a viable protein alternative.
When you're worried about ingredients going bad, it's better to use them up quickly. But that doesn't mean you have to eat them quickly too. Cook big meals and portion them out to keep in the freezer. That way you can still gain a variety of meals, but while saving on time in the kitchen, and staying within your budget.
SEE ALSO: 10 One-Pan Meals Anyone Can Cook
Sometimes we just have "our brand" that seems to taste better than anyone else's. However, those also likely mean the highest prices. If you can wean yourself off of these expensive habits, you can save a great deal of money. Besides, it also gives you the opportunity to get creative with recipes and add your own twist of cooking flare.