Let me start by saying this: Budgeting is tough. When you are like me and have a very limited income because of being a full time student, it is hard to plan out exactly how to spend your money each month to cover all of your bills while still having some money for travel and fun activities with your friends. The place I struggle with saving money the most is the grocery store. Here are my tips on how to save money and not end up eating Ramen Noodles every day.
1: Weekly coupons at your local grocery store.
I shop at Star Market, which is the local grocery store about 2 blocks from my apartment. They make it super easy to find coupons every week. Between the emails they send with coupons and free items of the week and the ability to save coupons to my phone through their app, I am able to save at least $10-$15 off of my bill each week, which may not seem like much at first, but over time, these savings really add up!
2: Make a meal plan for the week.
Growing up, figuring out what we wanted to cook for the week was always such a dread. I never knew what I was going to be in the mood to eat for the entire week. However, now that I am buying and cooking all of my own food, it is necessary to plan my meals out for the week. It helps me narrow down what food I have already and what I need to buy at the grocery store.
Here is an example of what my meal plan looks like for the week:
3: Become familiar with the store.
By knowing where the things you want to buy, not only will this reduce stress while shopping, but it helps keeping you from adding random things to the cart while perusing the isles. I am very guilty of this as I grew up walking up and down every isle in Walmart as we worked on getting everything on the list. However, since moving to Boston, I have worked on learning where things are located so I can save the amount of time I spend in the grocery store and decrease the random unnecessary ice cream additions to my cart.
4: Shop once a week (or every other week if you are me).
By going to the store less often, you are limiting the amount of food you’ll potentially buy on impulse. I know several times when I run to the grocery store mid week to get one thing and walk out with an armload of groceries that I “needed”. What really happens is I have to walk past all of the candy and junk food that looks good while walking to get to whatever I came to the store to get. By planning my biweekly trips to the grocery store, I am able to stick to my grocery budget and still get all the food I need to meal prep for the week.
5. Watch for sales and be careful not to fall into marketing traps.
I am often tempted by the 10 for $10 sale, but the problem with this is I don’t need 10 boxes of Rice-a-Roni to get me through the next two weeks. A big problem with buying a large amount of something to save a little money is that food can sometimes go bad before you have a chance to eat it. I also have a tiny kitchen with very limited space, so having 9 extra boxes of pasta becomes very difficult to store. My advice: only clip and use coupons for things you were already going to buy. Don’t just buy something because it’s on sale, because you’ll end up spending more money to buy things you don’t need just because the coupon is “saving” you money.
By taking a little extra time to plan before going grocery shopping, it can save you lots of money in the long run!