by Dan Adair, Branch Manager, Island Savings Brentwood Bay –
If there’s an
easy way to constantly blow your household budget, it’s the grocery bill. Because eating is a necessity, it’s easy to overlook it in terms of money management. But it’s also undeniably one of life’s pleasures – and that creates a lot of opportunities to overspend. Here are some tips to help you manage your grocery expenses.
Plan, plan – and plan some more. Create a meal plan that identifies every meal you will make that week. This plan then dictates what goes on your shopping list, and what doesn’t. Also be mindful of how much each meal costs. If you want to indulge your foodie urge with a more sophisticated dish with more expensive ingredients, balance it out with cheaper meals on other days.
Another planning approach is the envelope system. Set a dollar amount as your weekly (or monthly) grocery budget and put that amount of cash in an envelope. You’re only allowed to spend from that envelope and once the cash is gone, your buying is done until next week or month. This system compels you to think carefully about your spending.
Curb the impulse buy. The chips you don’t need. That box of sugary cereal. Those donuts. Budget killers all. Employing a few of the following tactics can help you stop reaching for impulse buys when you shop.
• Stick to the outside aisles: The most nutritious items are located there, whereas the more expensive processed “junk” foods are located on the interior aisles.
• Shop online: With online grocery shopping, you can see your total cost before you pay. This can be more effective than shopping in-store and ballparking your total bill, only to be surprised at the actual cost at checkout. The small fee you pay for online shopping is likely to cost less than the impulse items you’d grab if you were in-store.
• Shop only one day a week: Unplanned visits can quickly add up to a blown budget.
• Don’t shop on an empty stomach. Nothing will test your resolve to stick to your shopping list like a case of the growlies.
Shop local produce stands and farmers’ markets. Produce stands are specialized and often have lower prices. At farmers’ markets, you may find locally-grown specialty produce – those rarer items in your favourite recipe – at a lower price than the grocery store can offer.
Call in the subs. Knowing your ingredient substitutes can help you avoid unplanned trips to the grocery store. The internet is a good source of information on substituting ingredients.
Dan Adair is Branch Manager at Island Savings’ Brentwood Bay location and father to two teens that attempt to eat him out of house and home.