How you can keep your grocery bills low

If you're balking at the grocery bill every month, don't worry — there are ways to cut down on your spending by budgeting well and switching out ingredients. Here are a few suggestions to lighten the load on your wallet.

How you can keep your grocery bills low

Budgeting tips for grocery shopping

When you're finding yourself low on cash at the end of a grocery run, there are several ways to tackle the problem. Knowing exactly what you're spending and how you can be saving are the start.

  • By tracking household spending for about a month, you can get an overview of whether your financial planning really coincides with your income and expenditures and modify your behavior accordingly. An easy way to do it: keep an envelope in your purse or car where you can drop each and every receipt, then tally them at month's end.
  • Plan your menu around supermarket specials.
  • Seasonal items are not only cheaper, but also tastier and fresher because of the shorter transportation from producer to consumer, so buy those.
  • Stocking up protects your wallet. When goods become expensive, you can pull out the berries you froze in the middle of the summer.
  • Buy unsliced cheese or bread. They will stay fresh longer.
  • Packaged foods always cost more. Consider that prewashed salad greens will set you back an extra 50 per cent or more. Is it really worth it?

Alternatives that will save you money

Sometimes it seems like it makes no sense to buy an ingredient you're only going to use for one recipe — because it doesn't. Likewise, it's hard to justify buying an ingredient that costs more than it would to buy a meal out. Here are some tips to help you save in situations like these.

  • Instead of using roux (a paste of butter and flour), you can thicken gravies or soups with potato water.
  • If you don't want to buy a whole carton of buttermilk for a recipe, add 15 millilitres (one tablespoon) vinegar or lemon to a little less than 250 millilitres (one cup) milk and let stand for 10 minutes.
  • No cream in the house for making sauces? Substitute condensed milk or coffee cream. Note that these replacements won't work for whipped cream.
  • Make fruit yogurt by stirring a spoonful of jam or marmalade into plain yogurt.
  • Almost any kind of nuts will do for pesto, including walnuts and almonds.
  • You can quickly turn granulated sugar into confectioner's (icing) sugar in a coffee grinder or spice mill.
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