My Money, My Choices
Gail Vaz-Oxlade is a personal finance writer, television host and radio broadcaster. Every Wednesday, she arms Metro readers with tips to keep spending in check.
Easy ways to save money grocery shopping
Food makes up a large portion of monthly spending.
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According to the Stats Man, the average Canadian will spend $420 a month on food in 2017. This is one of the biggest categories in most families’ budgets. And it’s one that can jump even higher if you don’t watch your spending carefully.
Some choices seem obvious; others, not so much.
Shop in a less-expensive stores. Discount supermarket shopping can knock 15-30 per cent off the cost of a basket of groceries. That could save you $5,000 a year.
Go ethnic. You’ll find Little Korea, Chinatown or Little India cheaper than regular supermarkets. When I buy dragonfruit in my local supermarket, it costs me twice as much as shopping in Little Korea.
Shop at farmers markets in season. Buying from farmers means you’re cutting out the middleman, which can save money. It’ll also mean you’re buying fresh since the produce didn’t sit on a truck for four days getting from the farm to your grocery store, where it sat on the shelf for another four days.
Buy in bulk. If you have the space to stash extra stuff and bring it out when you need it, buy big on sale. Space is at a premium? Get creative on storage (think under the bed, at the back of the closet, in the garage). Join up with friends to share items you can buy in bulk at wholesale prices.
Don’t assume bigger is cheaper. Check the unit price to be sure you’re getting a deal.
Stop buying pre-made meals. Cook larger portions and freeze a couple of servings for those nights when you just don’t have time to start from scratch.
Don’t take the kids. They’ll not only badger you for candy and chips. Kids are also far more susceptible to packaging, so more goes in the cart and up goes your bill.
Shop with a list. Keep a running list at home. When you open the last of something, put it on your list. An ongoing list is not only great for inventory management, it’ll stop you from impulse shopping.
Comparison shop. Flip through the fliers to see who has the best price and to price-match. Stock up on sale items.
Use coupons smartly. Applying a coupon against a product that’s already on sale means a bigger percentage of savings.
Stay out of convenience stores. If milk is cheaper at the convenience store, OK. But nothing else is, so don’t even go into the store.
Time your shopping. Too much time in a store and you’ll wander the aisles, browsing and tossing stuff into your cart. Too little time and you’ll be all stressed out and less likely to miss best-by dates.
Do not to go to the store hungry. Grab a snack before you head out the door and your bills will be lower.
- Use a rewards card that’ll cut grocery costs.
- Watch for scanner errors, including prices that haven’t been changed, and fruit and veggie codes that are entered incorrectly.