Helpful tips to successfully shop on a budget, build a grocery list and waste less food. If you are new to shopping, veganism or just want a little help on how to start cooking at home then keep reading. As always, if you have any additional ideas, please leave a comment!
Food is awesome, trying new food is awesome but grocery shopping is not awesome (not for me anyway). Creating a list before you go to the store is beyond helpful. An organized grocery list should be more than a reminder of what you went to the store for but also your recipe card for the week and inventory of your fridge and pantry!
I create a list for roughly six to seven meals. When making my list, I keep in mind that I may change up the meal or not eat at home at all one of those days. To make sure none of my fresh food isn’t wasted I always include a meal with items that don’t spoil. This can be something as easy as frozen chicken nuggets or a meal that can go another week in the fridge (hello, tempeh!). Why would you include ingredients to something you won’t eat? So you don’t go back to the store! Having no ingredients to make something at home will have you running out to the store and probably buy something you don’t need. I keep my shopping trips down to once a week not only because I don’t enjoy the grocery store but to prevent any impulse buys and generally make my week easier because I always have a meal to eat at home. Some meals that I always have on hand include;
Burritos- Tempeh, Frozen ‘meat crumbles’, frozen veggies, beans & rice for a burrito.
Kids meal works for adults too- Vegan chicken nuggets and fries
Pasta- Mac and cheese is easy but so is ANY other variation of pasta. Frozen peas with cashew sauce, Spaghetti and marinara, Butter noodles with artichoke and asparagus.
Cook the fresh food first
It’s easier said than done to make sure there is no food wasted by the end of the week. There have been many times where I didn’t pay attention and cleaned out my fridge wishing I wouldn’t let something go bad (darn fresh spinach). I keep my grocery list after I’ve been to the store to ensure I remember what’s on the menu for the week. Always try to cook the fresh food as soon as soon as possible to keep those easier meals for later in the week. I love vegtables and you can still use fresh produce in all your meals for the week but learn which ones spoil the fastest (Spinach, Avocado, Tomatoes, Green Beans). The produce that’s best to use later in the week would be things like cucumbers, broccoli, asparagus, carrots and bell pepper. Learn to create a grocery list that works with you and utilize everything you buy before it goes bad.
It’s so expensive!
I have a crazy secret to stay in your budget, don’t go back to the store! I have been a victim of going back to the store because I forgot one item then leave with five, or ten items. It’s totally true unless you are extremely good at discipline then you too will probably impulse buy if you go back to the store. Keep your trips to a minimum. I can’t think of a good reason to shop for your meals a few times a week. Plan ahead, save money. Sure it takes some time, effort and organization but it’s worth it. If you are new to creating a full list and buying everything at once, the total may be higher than you are use to seeing but if you add up all those grocery trips you made during the week and compare it, it’s probably going to be a lot less.
Buy fresh, spend less. Buying less processed food is going to save you a large amount. This includes snack foods and lunches not just dinner meals. Of course I buy SOME processed food but my there bell peppers stretched out for 3-4 meals is going to cost way less then anything else packaged. Spend time looking for recipes that consist of vegetables and more vegetables. If you are not cooking for an entire family you may even stretch out a bundle of kale or asparagus further than just one meal. Use one bundle for two meals and really stretch out what you’ve purchased.
I don’t have the time, can’t cook and have no idea if I even like that ingredient…Well now is the time to get started, By organizing a grocery list you will end up saving time in more ways then one like less trips to the store, less time in the kitchen and less time figuring out what to make for dinner. Make the time to make a list, we all have that much time once a week.
It’s hard for me to believe someone can’t cook. There are way too many resources available to use like youtube, cookbooks, Pinterest and anything that comes up on google. Take time and research REALLY simple meals to get you started. I’m a huge advocate for cooking at home because I believe even processed food at home is going to be far healthier than something from a restaurant or fast food. Start small and figure it out to see just how easy and budget friendly cooking at home is. No excuses.
When creating my grocery list for meals, I always do it a few days before grocery shopping day. This helps in case I need to add something or make adjustments. If you reach the end of the week and realize you didn’t use that bell pepper, take it off the list and use it up in nexts weeks menu. If you are new to buying groceries in bulk, don’t get so overwhelemed you forget to add lunch and snacks. In my home we often cook meals to have enough for leftovers and eat that for lunch. Snacks are always on hand in bulk so I rarely buy those every week with the exception of fruit (my favorite snack food). Most importantly, use your list and go to the store on a full stomach. This may sound like a joke but going to the store hungry WILL make you buy things off your list and spend more for items you don’t really need. I hope these tips help someone and again, any questions please let me know!