Staying at home more during this coronavirus pandemic has forced us to change the way we do things, and our grocery shopping and dining patterns are a prime example. One thing many of us have adapted to is making more meals at home, how to buy groceries online easily, and which foods we should try to have in our pantry at all times.
However, it’s important to stick to your budget while shopping online. Overspending can be tempting when endless possibilities are at the tip of your finger and you have all that extra time on your hands.
Meal Planning & Stocking Your Pantry
With your budget in mind, make a list of the necessities you need before you start your online shopping trip. Go through your pantry, cupboards, and refrigerator to make a list of the essential groceries that you’re missing. This may help you identify and remember what you need, provide you with a general idea of how much you may be spending, and stop you from buying groceries you don’t need.
Remember to include the needs of everyone in the household when making your list.
Versatile, inexpensive foods with a long shelf life are especially ideal to stock up on if you’re staying at home more and want to avoid going out more than necessary.
According to a post on the America Saves website, nutrition experts recommend having the following pantry items on hand:
- Canned foods such as beans, tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, soups, broths, meats, and fish
- Shelf-stable dry goods, such as crackers, nut butters, dried fruits, hot and cold cereal, protein bars, granola/granola bars, pasta, dried beans, nuts, rice, and other grains
- Olive oil, vegetable oil, vinegar, and basic seasonings such as salt and pepper
- Frozen foods such as fruits and vegetables, pizza, chicken nuggets, and biscuits or other bread
- Coffee, tea, and hot chocolate
- Hydrating drinks such as sports drinks and children’s rehydration drinks, which can be useful if a family member becomes sick
In addition to these items, if your pantry and budget have room, you might want to consider non-essential items for variety. This could include jarred salsa, bags of tortilla chips or other snacks like jars of pickles and chocolate bars.
One smart tip during this pandemic is to set aside emergency supplies — just in case someone does get sick. Avoid using this emergency supply; if you run out of something, restock during your weekly online shopping. If you do find yourself in an emergency, eat your perishable food before turning to your pantry.
In addition to stocking your pantry, your weekly online shopping list should include items you will need for your actual meals throughout the week. Plan one week at a time to avoid having to purchase items more often than weekly.
Grocery Shopping Tips that May Save You Money
There are several ways to save money when you are grocery shopping online or making meals at home. Here are just a few.
- You don’t have to include expensive meats or other proteins in every meal. Vegetarian meals are often less expensive.
- Take advantage of online coupons in grocery shopping apps. Only clip coupons for items you will use; a coupon is not an invitation to spend more money.
- Canned foods may be nice and convenient, but dried products go a longer way, saving you even more money.
- Freeze unused fresh foods and leftovers for later.
- Remember that generic store brands may be less expensive.
- Buy fresh produce and wash it yourself. Washed, bagged, and ready lettuce, spinach, fruits, and vegetables may be more expensive while containing less of the product.
- Repurpose leftovers into different meals for the next day. If ground beef, for example, is left over from taco night, use it in spaghetti the following day.
- Choose less expensive cuts of meat, but use your slow cooker and handy herbs and spices to make the meat more flavorful and tender.
- Do a price comparison between stores and online retailers.
- Keep track of your expenses to stay within budget.
Sometimes during difficult situations, we learn new approaches that may be beneficial in the long run. How to plan and make nutritious, easy meals at home without overspending may be one of the best of them. For details about saving through our GHFCU savings account or our other products and services log on to ghfcustaging.wpengine.com or contact us at (912) 236-4400 during normal business hours.