I’ve been lately sorting out my expenses to groceries. Oh boy how I was impressed. Because it seems that I waste a lot and there are some really big opportunities to cut back my food budget.
Please remind that these conclusions are solely based on my experience and may not be applicable to you.
Two habits I follow when shopping
Mostly I live alone, which means I don’t need too much food. Buying in bulk just doesn’t have the impact on my budget, even I would conclude that it will make me spend more than I would otherwise.
There are two habits of mine that I try to follow:
1) Don’t go shopping every day
2) Buy as much as it’s needed to survive 3-4 days, but spend as little as possible
The first one is not that obvious that we might think it is. There are too many temptations in Estonia for that. For example our grocery stores are usually opened from 8 AM to 10 PM. This is 14 hour time span! Couple months ago I bought almost every day something. One snack from here, other from there. It was too much and therefore I promised myself to have more days in a month where I don’t spend anything. It has had a great impact to my wallet. Costs to food have significantly gone down.
Buying in bulk is justified only if you have big family or when buying longkeeping stuff. But even then you should bear in mind that shops don’t just disappear and they will be there also tomorrow and day after that. There is no need to put your money into piles of sugar or wheat today.
Competition between grocery stores in Estonia is fierce (especially in towns). There are several discounts available every day and we don’t need to worry if sugar will be same cheap ever again. It probably will. But do we need 25kg sack of sugar just standing in my pantry for years because my yearly consumption is 3kg?
Couple years ago I was allergic to yogurt. At least I though I was, because it made me puke every time I ate it. Magically my allergic reactions passed by and now I enjoy yogurt again. Even that much that when I go shopping, I tend to buy several cups at once. Especially if there are discounts available (I prefer Saaremaa Jogurtikreem series which usual price is 1 euro, with discounts it goes down to 0,69 euro). If I buy 4-6 yogurts at a time then it is sure that I will eat them ASAP. That means I don’t cook warm meal to myself and overall it’s more expensive to get the same amount energy out of it. Which again leads to more consumption of yogurt. You see where I’m going with it?
If you set yourself daily or weekly budget for food then try to take best out of it when shopping. For example if I plan to limit my weekly food budget to 35 euros, then I go to store twice a week and try not to spend over 15 euro per visit. This helps me to take maximum out of my money and in the end it also saves money. Literally. Buy the things you need!
I’ve watched couple episodes of some kind of coupon wars in America (check it out from youtube with keywords ‘extreme couponing’). Mothers cut and slice catalogues to get as many coupons as possible. And they save a lot of money from it.
Unfortunately such widespread couponing is not possible in Estonia. Or should I say fortunately, because this hobby takes a lot of space in house and I’m not sure if they can really consume all of the bought items. Unlikely not.
Which is cheaper, to buy 1 item and pay 1 unit of money for it or buy 10 items, pay 5 units of money and throw 6 items away because we actually don’t need it?
If companies are turning their operations more efficient day by day (especially after last financial crisis) then why people should be less efficient? We should seek less waste in our everyday doings.
Time for conclusions
Today my thoughts are based on small family behaviour (1-2 persons). I find it rather pointless to buy bulk, because it’s unlikely to get big savings from the scale. Therefore I go shopping twice (sometimes three times) a week and have strick budget for each visit. To me it has turned out great and my overall budget has been decreased for the past couple of months.
Are there any specific habits of yours when shopping groceries? Give us a comment!