People crave good food and often plan to go out with friends/family for a snack or dinner. Statistics show that an average earning Indian bachelor spends around Rs.3000-5000 per month on food, including 3 meals a day, occasional dinners at restaurants, grocery buying, occasional Drinking, and having small snacks in the evening. Therefore I am here to tell you a few things that you can put in your daily life to avoid big food bills and at the same time enjoy tasty food anytime. So, here are some tips to save money on food.
How Can We Save Money On Food?
1. Bulk Buying At The Right Place:
People generally tend to buy things whenever they see something is at a shortage. Due to this habit, people often buy a limited number of things many times in a month, which ultimately costs more. Suppose you ever visit a supermarket like Big Bazaar, Reliance Fresh, 7-eleven, D-mart, or visit online grocery websites like Big Basket, Grofers, Amazon Pantry, Flipkart.
In that case, you’ll notice that it offers a great discount whenever you buy in bulk. You must also not miss the sale days on these supermarkets where you can get up to a 50% discount on many items. Sale days vary for each supermarket; for Big Bazaar, it’s on Wednesday, for D-mart, weekends are good.
Also, Online stores offer great discounts during festivals, so always check for ads on TV and the internet. At last, always plan before you buy, make a checklist of items consumed, and buy in bulk on the right day.
2. Grocery Shopping:
This is the most important section of the article. Groceries take up most of the food bill, and saving on it must be the priority.
So, below are some tips on how to save on groceries:
a. Listing Out
Making a list is one of the most unlikeable things for a human being. But it is useful all the time. Having an already prepared list of items to buy and sticking with it during shopping keeps the unnecessary items at bay. Further, you can divide the list into perishable and non-perishable items for better sorting at home.
b. Meal Planning
Having a small ideal diet is not only good for health but also for your pocket. Maintaining a constant diet will help you figure out the exact items you need, and you will never be spending on food that you won’t eat.
c. Do I Actually Need This Item?
You must question yourself, is this item of my immediate use? or can I carry on through the weekend without this item? Before listing an item for shopping, make a list of items that you require at a bare minimum to carry out for a whole week. Doing this eventually, you’ll become accustomed to buying less and consuming less.
d. Where To Buy?
In this time of COVID’19, I would suggest shopping fruits and vegetables online from websites like Big Basket, Grofers, Amazon Pantry, Flipkart, or order by calling the local vegetable seller as going outside is what we should be avoiding. But, on any other day, I would suggest buying fruits and vegetables at weekly markets.
These weekly local markets are about 10-12% cheaper than supermarkets.Also, buying non-perishable foods like canned food, nuts, grains, dried fruits in bulk can save 10-14% on your bill.
Buying loose cereals and pulses instead of a branded one can save you Rs. 8-10 per kilo. Buy at weekly markets so that you’ll never have to worry about huge bills.
e. How To Store?
Generally, groceries are divided into two categories: Perishable and non-perishable items.
Non-Perishable Items: Non-perishable items include dried fruits, nuts, grains, canned food, peanut butter, spices (masalas), etc. These foods have a long shelf life and should only be repurchased when consumed wholly.
Perishable Items: Perishable items include vegetables, fruits, bread, cheese, milk, eggs, etc. These food items must always be kept inside the refrigerator, or it will spoil within days. So, make sure you consume an item before it expires. Also, make your consumption according to expiry dates in ascending order so that no food goes to waste at the end.
Applying the above tips can help you save Rs. 500-700 on grocery bills of Rs. 3000-3500.
3. Never Ignore The Card Offers
The card offers are something that most people ignore or don’t even try to avail. I agree that nowadays, the use of cards for payment is becoming old-fashioned as online UPI mobile payments are being implemented everywhere. Therefore, before making payments anywhere, always ask/check for any Debit/Credit card offers.
If you are a Credit card user (SBI Credit card, ICICI credit card, etc.) then you should know that there is a reward system which comes as a benefit of these cards where each transaction or payment using a Credit card will reward you with redeemable points which you can redeem and use it as payment later on (terms & conditions applied).
Supermarkets also use this system of redeemable points and offer cards to the customer like Big Bazaar profit club membership card, Reliance fresh card, and many more. Always check your points on the cards and try to make a full or a part of your payment using these points.
4. Tiffin Services
This section is especially for bachelors or single men or women.
I know that living a bachelor’s life is full of carefree fun, but the only thing that most of the Indian bachelors hate is shopping for groceries, cooking food, and washing dishes. Therefore the secret to hassle-free dining is to opt for 3-meals a day tiffin service. Opting for a tiffin service will not only help you avoid unnecessary extra grocery shopping but will also save you your precious time and money.
But the most important task here is choosing the right service, which checks both quality food and economical option. Finding a good tiffin service is convenient if you are in a metro city like Bengaluru (Masalabox.com) or Mumbai (Spicebox.in) as you’ll find it easily on the Internet but, if you reside in a smaller city, then your only option of finding a good tiffin service is to ask the locals about it or try all options by yourself and choose the right one at last.
5. Dining At A Restaurant
Statistics show that an average Indian goes for dining at a restaurant for at least 1 to 2 times in a week and the cost of each meal averages around Rs.250-300 per person. Therefore, an average Indian spends around Rs.1000-1200 per month on meals in the restaurant.
To lower this expenditure, I would suggest looking for ‘restaurants nearby’ on Google before going out. Google will not only show you the best restaurants near you but will also help you find restaurants that have some offers or discounts.
If you love eating at big food chains like KFC, Dominos, Burger King, Subway, or Barbeque Nation then let me tell you that KFC offers discounts on Wednesday, Dominos on Friday, Subway gives discounts every day on different items, and Barbeque Nation from Wed to Sun if you are an early bird i.e. before 7:30 PM. So, to save money, search for offers before you dine out.
6. Online Food Ordering
This section is for people who like to dine on their couch watching their favorite series on Netflix and for the time when you don’t feel like cooking. Online food ordering has become popular in our country very recently. 3 years back, no one thought to order food online; everyone used to call their favorite restaurant and order food.
But with the launch of online platforms of restaurant aggregator and food delivery start-ups like Zomato, Swiggy, Uber Eats, etc. we public now have so many restaurant and food options to choose from.
All we have to do is open an app on our smartphone, type in the location and order food, and Hola! Food is at our doorsteps within an hour. But before ordering any food, first, select the restaurant and the food you want to order and then compare it with the prices and offers on the different available platforms.
Pro-Tip -> New users always get good offers and coupons on the above platforms. Before ordering from the same app again, first register all the numbers you have on the above apps and avail all the offers and coupons they give for the new customer.
7. Roadside Food Stalls
Believe it or not, but the cheapest way of dining in India is to grab a meal from the roadside food stalls or what we call ‘Thelas’. You can have a full plate of Chole Bhatore or Puri Sabzi for as little as Rs.30 and which will fill your stomach in no time. The main problem of having a meal in these stalls is that most of the time, you’ll find the place or the food to be unhygienic, the oil used is adulterated, and the vegetables used are spoiled ones.
So, it should be your priority to find a stall that serves good quality hygienic food at a reasonable price. Also, do not buy cheap snacks like Samosas, Jalebi, Aloo Chops, Pani Puris, etc. from online food delivering apps. These small snack items are priced higher on these apps, and ordering these online will attract extra delivery charges from the platforms too.
8. Expense Tracking
Making a budget is not the only thing for limit spending. You must keep track of your daily expenses. But the whole process is time-consuming and requires great efforts if done manually. The thing that makes this process simpler is by using mobile apps for tracking.
You can install spending expense tracker apps like money view, Mint, Wally, etc. on your Android or iOS mobile phone. These apps can automatically detect expenditure by reading transaction messages from your phone, or you can add cash purchases manually, and the apps will keep track of your expenditure relative to the set budget. These apps will send you notifications from time to time, which will ensure that your expenditure never crosses your target budget.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Is it okay to order food online with COVID’ 19 around?
Yes, the mentioned online platforms do quality checks, and also, the delivery persons handle the food with care & precautions. But for safety, after receiving the food package, take the food out and place it on your home container and throw the package out and adequately wash your hands.
2. How to keep a check on my food expenditure?
Try to follow the above tips and use the tracking apps that I mentioned above. You will see the results within a month.
3. I live in a rented apartment with 4 roommates. We have a cook, and we buy groceries ourselves. Should we opt for tiffin services, as you suggested?
Yes, opting for tiffin services might lessen your expenses on daily food. Many tiffin services offer a discount if the number of people opting at the same place is more than one.
4. Which supermarket is the best?
D-mart offers great discounts on MRP and is better than Big Bazaar and Reliance Fresh.
5. I don’t carry my cards everywhere, but my phone is with me every time. How to avail card offers in this case?
Nowadays, you don’t need an actual card to make payments from the card. You can save your card details on the online payment apps like PhonePe, Samsung Pay, and make payments using only your card pin.
The above article is based on my experience and experiments with purchasing the food in India, and the mentioned tips & tricks, if followed, will guarantee your savings on food in India.Finally, it is up to you to try and implement it in your life and see the changes by yourself. So go ahead and follow the tips and save money on food.