Have you noticed your grocery bill creeping up? Particularly since lockdown? Now that restrictions are lifting and you are catching up with friends and family for meals out, are you noticing your food bills remain stubbornly high? You are not alone.
We all got used to spoiling ourselves a little bit with extra groceries in the last year because it was one of few ways we could treat ourselves.
Now that life is returning to normal, you may want your food shopping to do the same.
The good news is, there is a lot you can do to save money on groceries while still eating well. By making some small changes you can have money left over to enjoy yourself at the weekend. Some of our favourite tips include:
Don’t shop every day:
Just popping to the shop for a few things? It’s so easy to think you are saving money by just buying what you need when you need it but, in most cases, it ends up costing more.
When we shop every day it’s easier to nip to a local convenience store that is more expensive than a supermarket and you won’t get the benefit of buying in bulk that you would from a weekly shop. Instead, dedicate one evening a week to get your groceries and you don’t have to think about it again until the following week.
Pro tip: Choose an evening between Monday and Wednesday to avoid crowds and queues so you spend even less time stocking up.
Set a grocery budget:
It’s difficult to reduce the cost of something if we don’t know how much it is costing us in the first place. Get and keep receipts for a week and tot up the total. Try not to be overly ambitious from the outset, look to save about 10% your first week.
Reducing €100 bill to €90 is much more doable than trying to halve it. Once you are comfortable at €90 try another 10% until you reach a figure you are happy with.
Pro tip: start a Google Sheet to track your grocery bill each week and the savings you are making.
Plan your food for the week:
Like most of us, do you wander the supermarket aisles wondering what you might like to eat that week? It’s a sure way to end up with too much or too little food. A great tip is to plan out your three meals a day for the week ahead.
Make a shopping list [and stick to it:
Following tip 3 should make building your shopping list much easier. Having a detailed shopping list is one thing, sticking to it is another. It is so easy to be tempted while you are in the shops.
This is particularly true if you are shopping in a supermarket with a ‘middle aisle’ containing all kinds of unexpected offers. During these moments try to remind yourself of your goal to save money. Tell yourself ‘if it’s not on the list, I don’t need it’.
Pro tip: use a shopping app for your list that allows you to add the rough cost of each item so you can estimate how much your total bill will be. It’s a bit of work to set up initially but once you add your favourites you can reuse them each week.
Eat before going grocery shopping:
The golden rule for saving money on groceries, ‘don’t shop on an empty stomach’. It is just too difficult to get past the bakery section if your stomach is rumbling as you enter the shop. Having dinner or a meal before you go makes it much easier to stick to your grocery list.
Switch to a budget grocery store :
If you are buying branded groceries, consider switching to a lower cost alternative. You might be surprised at how much you save once you can avoid the temptation of the ‘middle aisle’. It will take a while to work out the best alternatives and there might be some products you won’t compromise on but, overall, you stand to make a significant saving by making the switch.
Stock up on tins of tomatoes:
Tins of tomatoes are one of the least expensive, most versatile ingredients you can use to make a delicious dinner. It’s not only spaghetti bolognaise, but there are also countless soups, curries, stews and traybakes that use a tin of tomatoes as their base.
Consider meat free days:
One of the most expensive things on your shopping list is likely to be meat. If you really want to see savings and improve your overall health, consider making one or two days a week meat free. There are so many delicious vegetarian or vegan recipes that you won’t even miss it.
Buy frozen over fresh veg
Frozen vegetables cost a fraction of their fresh counterparts but have been shown to have the same nutritional value. When it comes to root vegetables, spinach, broccoli and cauliflower consider buying a bag of frozen instead of fresh and you will notice the difference in your bill. You may also notice the difference in your compost bin as you don’t end up dumping wilted spinach or yellow broccoli at the end of the week.
Buy in bulk:
Buying in bulk only makes sense for items that you know you will use, that won’t expire and when you have the space to store them. If there is a special offer on detergent, your preferred cereal or favourite coffee it might be worth buying an extra packet or two to store for future use.
Look out for special offers:
Last but by no means least, look out for special offers. Most supermarkets have different things on special offer every week. Do some research in advance so you can plan your meals and shopping list to make the most of them.
They are our top tips for saving some money on groceries. Is there anything we have missed? Share your tips on the Energia Facebook page.
Another great way to save money is to switch your electricity provider. Switching is easy; it’ll only take a few minutes and it could save you a lot of money in electricity and gas. So, if you are looking for ways to save switch to Energia.