Here are some easy too implement solutions on how to save on your food expenses.
Do your homework before you go shopping: Before you go grocery shopping, take an inventory of your existing kitchen stocks. This will allow you to identify items that you already have or are short of. Draw up a list of items you need a couple of days before your visit to the shop. This will allow you to cut down on impulsive purchases.
Take into account all your needs for the month including festivals and entertaining guests so that you don’t have to make additional trips to the supermarkets.
Buy and stock in bulk where possible: Non-perishable items like pulses and rice can be bought in bulk at wholesale prices and stocked. Do some scouting around to identify which shop sells quality products for less.
Also keep in mind, that in an environment where petrol prices are rising, you want to minimize your trips for shopping, otherwise, every time you step out you are spending money on petrol that you could otherwise save if you buy your groceries in bulk.
Choose the right shop with the best bargains: New supermarkets and large format retailers are coming up across India. Today, almost every densely populated neighbourhood has a large local grocery store offering excellent bargains, perhaps even better than the local kirana stores. So check out your local Food Bazaar, Spencer’s, Subhiksha or Reliance Fresh and look for their regular weekly bargains on items that they mark down to promote sales.
Additionally, some stores have special days assigned for bargains on different products. Similarly, some stores like Reliance Fresh have a loyalty programme that gives members points for money spent, and these points can be redeemed for products or towards special offers. All the big shops are enticing customers with bargains – you just need to find the bargains that suit your needs.
Make the most of rebates and coupons: Scan your local newspaper for offers running in the local neighbourhood supermarkets. Save these coupons and redeem them at the time of your next purchase. You might also find that different fast food chains or local restaurants drop off discount coupons in your mailbox – use these the next time you are ordering food from outside and enjoy savings.
Take advantage of seasonal items: Always go in for seasonal fruits and vegetables. They are not only healthier because of their freshness, but will also be lighter on your wallet. Limit the number of out of season products you consume - ask yourself if its really important for to eat oranges in the summer, or watermelons in the winter. Usually, many neighbourhoods have a weekly bazaar where fresh fruits and vegetables are sold.
Cut out exotic fruits and vegetables: Consume fruits and vegetables that are grown locally or at least within the country.
New Zealand apples may look and taste good, but they also cost much more than locally grown apples. Remember that food or produce that has to travel a long distance has transportation costs associated with it, and you will have to pay for this in the final price you pay for the item.
Try in-house brands: Many big retailers have come out with their own store brands of groceries. These are far cheaper than the national brands. If you find the quality and taste suitable, switch over. You’ll be surprised at how much you can save this way. The same holds true for flours, grains and pulses too.
Comparison shopping: Take time to compare brands and prices. Always compare unit price where appropriate, instead of the entire packet price. Check expiry dates and don’t buy if the expiry date is within a month of the current date.
Minimize purchase of convenience foods: Maximise your grocery savings by minimizing convenience foods like cookies and chips.
These are not only high priced but also not very healthy. Often, you can make these yourself for a fraction of the cost. If you must buy these items, buy the in-house brands that many stores have started carrying rather than buying the branded products.
Cut down on your eating out sprees: If a family of three reduces their night outs by just one visit, that could mean substantial savings in the monthly budget of up to Rs. 500. Additionally, see if you can take food from home to your work place, rather than eating out for lunch everyday.
No impulsive shopping: Always do grocery shopping on a full stomach! It will prevent you from impulsive spending on exotic and tempting foods. If you cannot help it, then budget a small amount for such items on every trip and don’t exceed this allocation.
Leave the kids at home: You will be able to compare and shop better and will also not have to overshoot your budget to give in to the kids’ demands of the latest chocolate bar or ice cream.
Things to remember:
- Keep a regular list of what you need – buy in bulk where possible
- Minimize your visits to the grocery shop, cut down on your petrol bill
- Compare unit prices to see if you are getting a good bargain or not
- Take advantage of rebates and coupons
- Buy at shops that sell food items at wholesale prices, and always consider in-house brands