As the world reels from the financial setbacks caused by the pandemic, inflation is expected to continue rising across several industries as a result.
The food sector will not be exempted from price hikes as news sources expect continued high food costs in 2024.
This year, you may already be eating out less as a result and meal prepping more, but with our coffers expected to be even tighter in the coming year, you’ll want to really stretch your grocery budget in 2024 to help cope with the global financial slump.
Here are some helpful ways to make the most of your money – and time – when shopping for food in 2024.
Buying in Bulk
Ten per cent of a product’s price accounts for the cost of packaging the item – items bundled in larger quantities use up lesser wrapping material, and therefore bulk goods cost slightly less.
Another reason is that supermarkets or grocery stores move products quickly to reduce the risk of wastage, time, and labour costs; so it makes sense for peddlers to get the most product they can in the shortest time possible.
With that, buying in bulk is typically cheaper, and you should consider getting your groceries at wholesale markets instead of retail shops for the best bang for your buck. Wholesale shops typically get their products at a much cheaper price, and the savings also carry over to the consumer as well.
Canned food, frozen ingredients, and dried goods are great items to buy in bulk as they store better at home
However, if you lack the storage space at home to stow away your ingredients, a good alternative is to opt for food that comes in larger packs. Take milk for example – a 2-litre jug can be about 3% cheaper than a 1L carton of the same milk. Those are some huge savings in the long run.
Keep an Eye Out for Discounts
A seasoned grocery shopper has developed a keen sense for discount seasons at a supermarket – it’s either that or they’re on social media a lot – and we say to learn from these shopping veterans.
Every year, you can look out for discounts when special occasions are in store – think festive periods, anniversaries, back-to-school season, and more.
You’ll find all sorts of necessities go for cheap to allow people to celebrate without breaking the bank.
And then there are clearance sales which are more unpredictable – for food items, you can usually find a stockpile of products that are nearing their best-before dates located at the entrance or the checkout iles.
But before you scoff at this seemingly unwanted merchandise, items like canned food, dried seasonings, and frozen ingredients are still safe to eat past their best-before indicators. These dates are printed on to suggest the timeframe for which the consumables retain the best taste, texture, and nutritional value.
However, do keep an eye out for canned items with sharp dents as there may be small holes that allow bacteria to enter. Otherwise, supermarket discount bins are a treasure trove of cheap, but great groceries!
Buy Generic / Local Brands
As the adage goes, “Don’t be as picky as a cat at a seafood market” – while it may be tempting to go for that fancier-looking tub of peanut butter, the much cheaper, plainly packaged home brand alternative is surprisingly just as good.
If you’ve never tried home-brand items before, you can start small by swapping out a few non-essential items such as snacks or instant coffee with generic ones; just to see if you like them.
When you realise they don’t taste all that different from their more well-marketed counterparts, you can start adding more house-name products such as bread, spices, and milk into your shopping cart.
You’ll find that your haul, although looks just as plentiful as before, now costs just a fraction!
Shop Twice a Month
Cooking at home takes a lot of planning – you have to consider what to make, what ingredients you have and what items you need to buy, and you have to factor in your budget as well.
With so much mental acrobatics taking place, shopping for groceries weekly can feel burdensome after a while.
To remedy this, try shopping once every two weeks instead – you get plenty of time to fill your shopping list, and also plan a more diverse meal plan for you and your family.
This is where bulk buying plays a key role in helping you save money since you’ll need more food to last 14 days. Frozen foods and canned goods are godsend for routines like this; just make sure you have enough storage space at home. Otherwise, if you have a mom-and-pop store within walking distance, you can get cheaper items like sugar, dairy, and produce every week.
Trying to go even further by shopping only once a month may be too restrictive for some as fresh produce won’t last that long even when refrigerated. So, a fortnightly routine is a sweet spot regardless of whether you live near or far from your favourite supermarket.
Planning is Key
Mapping out your shopping list and meal plan is crucial in staying within your shopping budget. Planning can help you reduce impulse buying as well (but go ahead and treat yourself once in a while, because you deserve it).
And with a proper strategy in place, incorporating the rest of our money-saving tips above will set you on your way to having great meals every day, for a lot less!