Tips to stretch your food budget this fall

When it comes to budgeting, living on a fixed income can be tricky—from monthly bills to healthcare to necessities (and leaving a little wiggle room for fun and social activities). Luckily, a few simple changes could make shopping for groceries less of a hassle each month.

Here are eight tips for stretching your food budget this fall.

How to Shop for Groceries on a Budget

  • Ask for a discount. Some grocery stores may offer a customer discount card or a senior discount. If you ask, the store associate may give you a store coupon as well. You never know unless you ask!
  • Do the prep yourself. Have you ever noticed how expensive bagged salad mix is when compared to regular old lettuce? This is because convenience often costs more. If you choose to buy a block of cheese and shred it yourself or purchase a whole chicken instead of tenders, you could save quite a bit of money.
  • Look for store brands. Nearly every store has its retail brand. These products may look slightly different from the other brands you’re used to seeing and may or may not have the store name printed on the label. Even so, they’re often times cheaper than the national brand names.
  • Bargain shop at the dollar store. Dollar stores offer rock-bottom prices for things like condiments, storage containers (for meal prepping), bread, bagged or boxed candy, and coffee filters, among other things.   
  • Avoid making impulse purchases. It can be tempting to splurge while standing in the check-out line, from small candies to other snack foods. But that’s why it’s there: to tempt you! Resisting the urge to add a few candy bars to your cart (and whatever else) could save money in the long run.
  • Break out the calculator. Most items have a small sticker underneath that displays the “unit price” or the price per ounce or pound. If you compare unit prices, you can see which brand offers the best deal.
  • Shop in-season fruits and vegetables. Buying in-season produce could save you a few bucks. Plus, seasonal produce typically tastes better as the crops are picked when they’re the freshest. Buying seasonal food also helps the local farmers, so it’s a win-win-win situation!
  • Buy what you’ll use and freeze the rest. When it comes to perishables, try to buy in small portions. There’s nothing worse than buying a load of produce only to watch it spoil in the fridge. If you do happen to buy more than intended, consider portioning it out and freezing it. You can do this with meats, veggies, and certain fruits.

Photo: Getty Images

Make Shopping Easier With These Quick Tips

Sometimes, shopping for groceries is easier said than done. If you experience mobility issues or find maneuvering a big store difficult, there are a few things you can do to make your trip easier.

  • Use a cart. Some stores offer motorized carts that take the pressure off if walking down aisles is tough for you.
  • Plan your trip. To avoid the after-work rush, plan to shop in the morning when you’re rested and the store is empty.
  • Sign up for meal delivery. If grocery shopping isn’t an option, you may want to consider looking into a meal delivery service or a meal kit subscription. Groups such as Meals on Wheels offer one hot meal per day, whereas meal subscription boxes (like HelloFresh and Blue Apron) deliver pre-portioned, ready-to-cook meals right to your doorstep. You can also order individual items online directly from most grocery stores and either pick them up or have them delivered!

Whether you’re shopping for the month, the week, or just one day, these tips should help keep your wallet (and your stomach) happy.

The Active Aging Series is brought to you by our partner, Cambrian Homecare. Cambrian Homecare has been assisting individuals to stay independent in their homes for 25 years. Flexible experience you can trust, when the best place is still at home.

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