How to Save Money when Buying Groceries

Food typically represents one of the biggest, if not the biggest, chunks of the family budget. Did you know that in the Philippines, Filipino households spend between 20%-50% of their income on food and groceries?

Of course, everyone needs to eat, so how exactly can we save money on this biggest budget item?

Here are three practical and easy steps that you can follow.

3 Ways to Save Money on Food and Groceries

  1. Set your monthly grocery budget as a percentage of your monthly income.

2. Prepare a grocery list with two sections — “Must Buy” and “Might Buy”.

3. Compute the price per unit and choose the cheaper package.

Here’s how exactly you can implement these 3 things.

Tip #1: Set grocery budget as a percentage of your income

Start by determining the total Budget you’re supposed to spend for your monthly groceries. Of course, this amount can vary every time but try to peg it as a certain percentage of your income so you can regularly monitor it.

If, for example, you’re making P30,000 per month, how much do you think you can comfortably spend on groceries per month?

If you have no idea yet, try to look for your past grocery receipts to see how much you’ve been spending. As a guide, in the Philippines, Filipinos allocate between 20% and 50% of their income on food. In our article Defining who’s rich: How rich is “rich” in the Philippines? we have seen that:

  • High-income families spend 20% of their income on food
  • Middle-class families allot 35% of their income on food
  • Low-income families prioritize food and represents 54% of their monthly income

It doesn’t matter what the actual budget is, as long as you know the amount will be sufficient to cover for your grocery needs. Having a fixed amount set for groceries per month helps you control your expenses, and the key is to make sure you stick to this “Budget” every month.

But what if the budget cannot really cover all grocery items?

Tip #2: Prepare a “Must Buy” and “Might  Buy” list

That’s when we suggest grouping your grocery items into two — the “Must Buy” group and the “Might Buy” group.

The “MUST BUY” items are, of course, the necessities which you need to buy, such as meat, rice, vegetables, other food items, beverages, toiletries, required household products, etc.

The “MIGHT BUY” items are the “luxuries” which you can and should only buy if you still haven’t reached your monthly budget limit.

Some people at first might have difficulty separating the two. But in reality, some “Must Buy” items can actually be placed in the “Might Buy” group.

For example, a few would argue that coffee is required — that could be true — but it doesn’t have to be a pricey Starbucks bottle all the time.

For the “Must Buy” list, yes, you can add coffee, but once you’re in the grocery store, opt for a more affordable 3-in-1 or other coffee products that can still satisfy your caffeine fix. Put that Starbucks coffee item in the “Might Buy” list and only decide to buy it if you still haven’t reached the set grocery budget.

Another example: families with kids might argue that snacks and candies are a necessity. Partly true, but you don’t have to buy a lot of those expensive snack items every time. Instead of the usual snacks such as chips, chocolates, candies, or ice cream, offer your kids tasty fruits that are much healthier and sometimes even cheaper than the typical snacks you buy.

We’re not saying you shouldn’t be buying chips or chocolates or candies anymore, but put them in your “Might Buy” list and only purchase them if your budget allows it.

Tip #3: Compute the price per unit and choose the cheaper package

To save money, compare the price per unit of the items you’re buying and choose the package that gives you the cheaper price per unit!

For example, we’ve compared the prices of two Enervon multivitamin tablets packaging to see which one’s cheaper. We’d most likely think that the bigger pack will have the cheaper price per unit. Well, not really.

The 30-tablet bottle sells at P189.25 at Robinsons Supermarket, while the 8-tablet pack costs P49.25.

If you compute the price per tablet of the two packaging, did you know that you can actually buy each tablet for a cheaper price if you chose the 8-pcs pack? The price per tablet for the 8-pcs pack is P6.16 while the price per tablet for the 30-tablet bottle is P6.31.

See? The smaller 8-pcs pack sells each tablet at a cheaper price! That means not all big pouches or bulk items are cheaper all the time. (In this example, the most likely reason is that you’re also paying for the plastic bottle container that’s why the 30-tablets bottle is more expensive.)

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Additional final tip: take advantage of promos or bundles offered by stores. Some “Must Buy” items of yours could actually include free “Might Buy” items — which means you can have both products without having to spend additional money!

Follow these simple and practical tips and we’re sure you’d start to see extra savings from your food and groceries every month.

About the Author


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