Canadians throw away $31B of food per year – that works out to approximately $885 per person. If you have a family of four, you’re looking at more than $3,500! That’s enough for a renovation project, a significant debt payment or a vacation.
There’s no question that we could all save a lot more money if we were just a little smarter about how we shop for food. Though there are several tips and tricks to help you cut back on grocery store spending, outsmarting your supermarket doesn’t start in the parking lot – it starts at home.
1. Never go to the grocery store hungry
Grocery stores are full of clever marketing tactics that entice you to purchase items you may or may not need. If you’re hungry, you’re more susceptible to these tactics and are more likely to make an impulse purchase. Avoid this by having a quick snack to fill up your stomach before you fill up your basket.
2. Plan your meals in advance
Taking a few minutes each week to plan your family meals will do a world of wonders for your wallet. You’ll throw out less food, eat healthier and make less impulse purchases. A few tips: incorporate sale items in your meal plan, buy generic brands instead of name brands, think of meat as a side dish and buy seasonal foods. Here are the five best meal planning apps to get you started.
3. Cook once, eat three times
When planning your meals, account for leftovers to last a few days. This will prevent you and your family from ordering in food and buying lunch at work or school. Besides, buying ingredients in bulk for several meals is cheaper than buying ingredients for one-off meals.
4. Price match by comparing flyers
Most discount grocery stores will match their competitor’s prices – just remember to bring your flyers. You may end up saving hundreds if not thousands of dollars per year. This will also prevent you from driving to multiple grocery stores to purchase sale items.
5. Beware the coupon
Though coupons can be great, they tend to influence buyers into shopping for items they don’t actually need otherwise. Before you pick up a pair of scissors, ask yourself, “would I buy this item if there wasn’t a coupon for it?” If the answer is yes, go for it. Otherwise you’ll needlessly be spending money.
6. Leave the kids at home
Grocery stores are known to put items that appeal to kids at their eye level. Avoid the impulse purchases that kids want you to make by leaving them at home. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with occasionally purchasing a kid-friendly snack or indulgence, but just be mindful of how often you do it.
7. Leave credit cards at home
Not having a credit card on hand forces you to spend only what you have and sets you up to make smarter decisions about what you’re buying. Shopping with $75 in your wallet is certainly a different experience than shopping with a $5,000 credit limit in your wallet.
8. Don’t forget your calculator
Bring a calculator and add up how much you’re spending as you move from aisle to aisle. This trick will put you in a frame of mind of having to stay within your budget. As you reach your limit, you’ll be more likely to put back the impulse item you would have otherwise purchased. Avoid being surprised at the cash register and know what you’re spending before you get there.
9. Put leftovers in the freezer, not the fridge
Have you taken a look at the back of your fridge lately? Our guess is that there are likely a few containers full of spoiled leftovers. If you know you’re going away for a few days, put your leftovers in the freezer. You’ll end up throwing out far less food and saving a lot more money.
10. Repurpose older foods you already have
If you have overripe fruit, such as brown bananas, cut it up and freeze it in individual bags. This frozen fruit will be great for breakfast smoothies and oatmeal. Another option is making your own flavoured butter by using old herbs, or turning stale bread into croutons. The key here is maximizing your food and avoiding waste.
These are all easy steps you can take that will help slash your grocery bill before ever stepping foot in a store. Saving just $20 per week is more than $1,000 per year. Not bad for just a little planning in advance. Affirm Financial understands how saving just a bit of money here and there will make a big difference in the long run. The best part: you don’t have to sacrifice eating well!