I’d rather my money go towards something like backpacking Europe instead of at the grocery store … if that sounds like you, you need these money-saving grocery tips for travelers.
Before we dive into saving you some serious cash at the grocery store, we’re just going to mention how to pay for a semester abroad on your budget (that link has discounts and tips so you can afford to live in Europe or Asia for a semester … score!)
Make a plan to pick a few of these grocery store tips for some serious savings so you can use your money on the cheapest things to buy in Thailand or a bowl of Russian pierogis instead:
How To Save Money At The Grocery Store
- Make A List - And Stick To It
- Do The Prep Yourself
- Shop Like A Vegetarian
- Buy Things in Bulk
- Learn How To Cook A Few Things
- Meal Plan
- Switch Brands
- Only Shop Once A Week
Make A List - And Stick To it
Make a list of what you want to eat this week, then peek into your fridge and cupboards to make sure you won’t be buying something you already have. While you’re at the store, stick to your list! Wandering the aisles means you’re much more likely to pick up things you don’t need.
Google Keep is an app that allows you to make check lists and is really helpful for the grocery store. Make the list while you're at home, then check things off as you put them in your cart. That way you're never wondering, "Do I have any peanut butter left?" Download it for Google Play and for iTunes.
Do The Prep Yourself
Those bags of pre-shredded lettuce, baby carrots, or containers of cut up pineapple are oh-so convenient but aren’t super budget friendly. Buy whole fruits and veggies and cut them up yourself and stash them in the fridge or freezer to save.
Shop Like A Vegetarian
Hear me out; you don’t have to totally switch how you eat, but it will save you some money if you cut out meat for a few meals. Try replacing chicken with roasted veggies in a grain bowl or switching over to soups like tomato basil or broccoli cheese.
You can also save by changing how you eat — instead of eating a whole chicken breast and veggies for a meal, make a big salad with lots of veggies and almonds and adding a little bit of chicken. Using meat as a side dish instead of a main dish will mean the meat you do buy can be used for more meals.
Buy Things In Bulk
Some stores have a bulk section that can save you serious cash, especially on things you use all the time. I cook with a lot of cumin (it’s in everything from Mexican to Middle Eastern food), but a single bottle of the stuff is $3 or $4 dollars for a couple of ounces. But if I buy in bulk, I can get an entire pound of cumin for $3.00 that will last for months and months.
You can also buy staples like flour, sugar, rice, nuts, beans, and other spices in bulk. If you have Winco near you, check out their bulk section to save tons.
Learn How To Cook A Few Things
Figuring out how to use the food you already do have will mean spending ways less on eating out or tossing out food in the first place. If you have stale bread, make french toast. Found some over ripe bananas? Make banana bread, or freeze the fruit for smoothies.
Maybe the store you shop at isn’t the cheapest: compare store prices to see if you should shop at another grocery store. You can also save by switching brands. This article talks about the foods you should buy generic. Think about it: if you’re using frozen fruit for smoothies do you really taste the difference between the name brand blueberries and the store brand ones?
It may sound intimidating, but doing a little bit of meal planning can be a life saver. Here’s a step-by-step meal planning guide to help you out. Pick a day to cut up all your veggies for snacks at school, and boil some eggs to toss into lunches. Or you can really go all out and cook a few meals ahead of time; some to eat now, and some to eat later. Double a recipe for soup, enchiladas, dumplings or lasagna and put some in the freezer.
Only Shop Once A Week
I learned this tip from Fun Cheap or Free (who is a financial budgeting guru) and I'm a huge believer ever since I've incorporated it. We often feel like we're spending less if we go to the store multiple times a week because we're only spending $20-$30. But the thing is that every time you're at the store, you're picking up items that you don't have to have like yummy Flaming Cheetos while those bell peppers in your fridge are probably going bad (guilty).
Instead, choose one day a week that is your grocery shopping day. I personally like Saturday morning. That's all you get so hopefully you were on board when we suggested meal planning above because that is extremely important here so that you don't run out. BUT ... if you do run out of cereal, you're just out until next Saturday. Don't run to the store - look through your cabinets and have oatmeal instead. You can make it 7 days; It's really reasonable and will save you so much money.
Now that you’ll be saving money left and right at the grocery store, it’s time to save money while volunteering for a semester, right? We have more money saving tips on the ILP blog, but wanted to give you a head’s up about International Language Programs too — we’ve helped tons of college-aged volunteers make a semester abroad happen with discounts, help writing a fundraising letter and tons of fundraising tips.
Get more info about ILP here, and chat with an ILP rep about how you can get yourself ready for a semester around the world: