Coronavirus has taken a toll on our jobs, hours and incomes, inadvertently affecting our daily budgets. Surviving on a college student budget was probably difficult already, and the pandemic has thrown a monkey wrench into our food routines, including grocery shopping etiquette and availability of ingredients.
Here are some tips and tricks to make the most of your budget:
Buy frozen produce
Seemingly counter-intuitive to what conventional health advice would say, frozen produce is just as nutritious as fresh. Especially when people’s eating routines may be inconsistent, frozen vegetables remove the stress over expiration dates.
Frozen vegetables are typically frozen at their peak freshness, so there are still plenty of nutrients in it after being defrosted. Year round, there’s a comparatively greater variety of frozen vegetables, plenty of mixed batches as well, that can be time saving additions to meals. Frozen vegetables are also relatively inexpensive, especially those that aren’t in season.
Download grocery store apps
Downloading the apps might seem unnecessary due to most items being marked down, but there are plenty of exclusive deals for customers that take advantage of the apps. Most grocery stores will have a free downloadable app and if you make an account with a phone number, when you check out in stores you’ll be able to slowly collect points to redeem awards.
This tip will take time, but most large chain grocery stores, like Safeway, will have weekly deals that you can easily look through on their app. The app also lets you look at the coupons and exclusive deals for the week, making it your one-stop-shop for all info related to individual stores.
Revolve spending around what’s on sale
This might sound like something that you already do, but this isn’t to say include certain items because they’re on sale; this tip will save you the most money if you buy according to what’s on sale, rather than only buying certain things because they’re on sale.
Perhaps this means buying alternative brands or only getting a fraction of what you would normally get, but it does help in saving money. The only downside to buying only according to what is on sale is how some ingredients you may need might not be on sale. Do continue getting what you would normally if absolutely necessary, but you save more money the less not on sale items you purchase.
Canned foods: underdogs of the kitchen
Do not underestimate the power of canned ingredients and foods. Canned foods typically are affordable, plus the wide variety of what is canned and how those ingredients may be cooked can go a long way in making a variety of dishes and having them for a long time. A simple online search can yield plenty of recipes and inspiration.
A majority of brands will have sites for their products, especially big name brands like Campbell’s and Progresso for soup, that have full catalogs of ways to cook with their product. Follow their recipes step-by-step or take inspiration for recipes that are more your flavor, the world of canned food is vast and won’t expire anytime soon.
Plan your meals ahead
Planning your meals ahead may be a lot of work in the moment, but it will likely save you from buying too many nonessentials. The biggest items you can probably save on are meat, dairy and certain varieties of fresh produce, since those items typically have the most fluctuation of prices, according to the US Department of Agriculture.
A benefit to planning ahead and shopping based on those decisions is giving yourself the opportunity to proactively plan your time and meals, so if your eating schedules and patterns were previously defunct, you can slowly start to shift them to something more consistent. Although this doesn’t mean you must structure out exact dishes, at least having a rough approximation and sticking to it when you are in the grocery store can save you more money than you’d expect.