Shop like a pro. Learn how to navigate the grocery store with confidence within your budget.
A trip to the grocery store doesn’t have to break the bank! Keep your grocery bill in check with these money-saving tips.
1. Make a list and stick to it
Having a realistic shopping list reduces impulse buys and allows better control over how much you spend. Plan ahead so that you only get what you need and never go grocery shopping when you're hungry!
2. Watch out for specials
Grocery stores often offer specials on items that are close to their best before date, over-stocked, or as lost leaders to draw customers into the store. If items you use regularly are on sale, stock up!
3. Buy seasonal and local
Seasonal foods are often cheaper than out-of-season foods. There are so many farmers’ markets open in Vancouver, especially during the summer. The closet one, our very own UBC Farm, offers a 20% discount to students!
4. Price match
Save-On-Foods, No Frills, London Drugs, Superstore and Walmart are just a few stores that offer price matching on items. Policies vary from company to company, but in addition to price matching, some grocery stores will offer a 10% discount or even give you the item for free if you show them a lower price from a local competitor at checkout. Compare deals store-to-store on the items you are looking for using a price comparison app like Flipp.
5. Shop in bulk
The bulk aisle can be cheaper than packaged items, take the time to compare prices between bulk and packaged items to get the best deal. Shopping in bulk makes can make it easier to reach your sustainability goals and if you only need a small amount of an item you can buy only what you need.
6. Shop store brands
Store brands foods are quite often made by name brand food companies, but in different packaging. If you’re hesitant to try a store-brand alternative to your favourite grocery items, compare the ingredient lists or try it just once – you might be surprised to find it isn’t any different!
7. Buy plant-based proteins
Plant-based proteins like lentils and legumes are not just an affordable alternative to animal proteins – they are also great for your health and the environment!
8. Reduce food waste
Balancing school, work and a social life can take up a lot of your time, and there is a good chance you’ll find forgotten kale in the back of your fridge at some point. But over time, wasted food can add up to an enormous amount of money. Dietitian Melissa Baker offers 5 tips to reduce food waste: Plan your meals, eat your leftovers, save fruits and vegetables that last longer for later in the week, donate unwanted food, and understand best before dates!
9. Track your spending
It’s usually the last thing we want to do, but tracking spending is an important part of budget planning. Knowing how much you have spent on food can help you plan ahead and generate creative meal planning opportunities. Keep it analogue with a bullet journal budget tracker, show off your spreadsheet skills with something like the Student Spending Plan template (under the “Financial Resources” section), or set it and forget it with an app like Mint. For more budgeting tips, check out A DIY guide to managing your money as a student from UBC Student Services.