For me, September was the month of getting organized. I created a spring cleaning calendar, which inspired me to clean parts of the house that I’d previously ignored, and I’ve started being more intentional about how we are spending money.
Related: Your Ultimate Spring Cleaning Guide
Glen and I are pretty good at saving money where we can and we tend not to indulge too much, bar the occasional late night trip to find dark chocolate (which, surprisingly, hasn’t happened in a few weeks). Even though we’re doing pretty well at saving, I’m still trying to cut down on our grocery bill and I’m doing a pretty good job at it!
So, this is what we’ve been doing and how we have saved a ton of money:
Make the most of store sales
A lot of stores have their “Best Before” dates a few safe days away from the food actually being too gross to eat. Once those items reach those dates they get put onto a Sales shelf and their prices are reduced. If you are looking for something in particular, check out the Sales shelf and see if you can find it at a better price.
Buy what’s in season
There’s a reason I get excited about avocado season. It’s because when they’re not in season they are just way too expensive to justify spending money on. If you’re shopping for what’s in season you are going to be spending less and eating what nature intended.
Make a list and plan properly
This is a point that I cannot stress enough. I know people who shop daily and buy what they feel like eating. Those people spend in a day what I spend in a week, so I think I’ve got a better system. All you have to do is make a list of what meals you are eating in a given week (or month, if you are able to shop monthly), create a corresponding grocery list and only shop for those items. If you are consistently putting things into your trolley that you don’t have on your list, you are going to spend more.
Related: Meal Planning For Newlyweds
Know what’s in the house
Before you go shopping, you need to know what you already have in the house. Last week I made the mistake of having to go to the shop three additional times because I kept forgetting that we didn’t have butter, honey and then cheese. It was annoying, a waste of time and I ended up spending extra money each time. Keep track of what you’ve got in your kitchen and you won’t accidentally buy something you already have.
Don’t shop hungry
If you go to the shop on an empty stomach, you are going to put more food in your trolley. It’s a proven fact. You are also probably going to give in to the temptation to buy yourself a shopping snack to nibble on.
Pay in cash and keep a tally
If you’re paying with your credit card you kind of feel like you’ve got an unlimited budget. If you take cash with you, you know it’s going to be awkward if you don’t have enough money once your bill is rung up. So, use that handy calculator on your phone and keep a tally as you shop.
OK, this one only works if you do it right. If you are already planning on buying something and you have a coupon for it, then use it. The coupon method becomes a nightmare when you start buying things because you have the coupon, not because you need them.
Don’t buy convenience items
Do you really need someone to shred your cheese and peel your onions? Probably not. If it’s faster and easier, it’s probably going to be a lot more expensive. Buy whole butternut and cut it up yourself. Buy whole carrots and peel and chop them instead of buying baby carrots. It doesn’t take that much longer and it’s worth it!
Buy store brands
This is something I do often. In my opinion, most peanut butter brands taste pretty much the same, so I’m not going to be true to one brand if I can buy the cheaper one that tastes the same. The same goes for milk, cream, rice, pasta and mayonnaise. Don’t be fooled by brand loyalty if you can get a better deal on something that tastes the same.
Compare prices on the shelves
The reason I often buy store brands is that when I compare the prices, those are usually the cheaper options. When you’re buying yoghurt, for example, take a look at all the options and compare their prices before making your decision.
Cook from scratch
Baking your own bread, rolling out your own pasta dough and making your own jam is not only more fun, but it’s also way cheaper. Save money by doing it yourself whenever you can.
Plan one meatless meal per week
It’s no secret that meat is pretty expensive. Plan on having one meatless meal each week and get your creative juices flowing. Being able to indulge in fancier, meatless options means that you can save money and still have a gourmet meal.
Cook double batches for another meal
You can either put your second meal in the freezer and save it for later or you can portion it up for another lunch or dinner. These meals will come in handy when you’ve accidentally forgotten to thaw your meat and are tempted to get takeaways.
Check out some freezer friendly meals here: Befriend the Freezer
Don’t buy processed food
Anything frozen for your convenience, or coated in preservatives isn’t healthy and it isn’t budget friendly. Rather buy fresh produce and fresh meat and make something healthier and more affordable.
Stop making dessert
This wasn’t a huge deal for us, because we don’t really eat dessert. We do like our dark chocolate and we’ve been known to make late night trips to the shop to get some, but we don’t really bake desserts and make puddings. If you are a dessert person, rather opt for fresh fruit and yoghurt on the side. It’s healthier and cheaper.
Shop weekly or monthly
I alluded to this earlier and it’s something I’m pretty adamant about. If you shop daily you will spend more money. Creating a plan, using your handy shopping list and doing a weekly or monthly shop means that you always have something to eat in the house. You won’t have to have that “What do you want for dinner?” conversation.
Grow fresh herbs
If you’ve got fresh herbs in your garden, you’ll always have a source of flavour that isn’t found in sugary packets. We’ve got a flourishing rosemary bush, a new basil bush and a beautiful lemon tree.
Keep your fridge organized
You don’t have to get all Pinteresty with cute labels and fridge organizing gadgets. The point here is to give everything a spot so that you can look into your fridge at a glance and see what you’ve got. This will come in handy when you go shopping and you need to make a grocery list.
Related: How To Be More Organized
Create a little pantry where you can store items that you buy in bulk. Things like flour, cereal, tinned items and anything else that can be used in meals to come. You’ll end up saving money later on when you only need to be a few ingredients because you already have the rest.
Related: Simple Ways You Can Save Money