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How to save money on groceries and waste less

For many households, food shopping is among the biggest weekly expenses.

If you could shave AED 25 per week off your food bill, you'd save AED 1,300 a year. Shave AED 150 off per week and you'd save AED 7,800 a year. 

What weekly savings can add up to over a year
Weekly saving Annual saving
AED 25 AED 1,300
AED 50 AED 2,600
AED 75 AED 3,900
AED 100 AED 5,200
AED 150 AED 7,800
What weekly savings can add up to over a year
Weekly saving AED 25 AED 25
Annual saving AED 1,300 AED 1,300
Weekly saving AED 50 AED 50
Annual saving AED 2,600 AED 2,600
Weekly saving AED 75 AED 75
Annual saving AED 3,900 AED 3,900
Weekly saving AED 100 AED 100
Annual saving AED 5,200 AED 5,200
Weekly saving AED 150 AED 150
Annual saving AED 7,800 AED 7,800

Depending on your financial situation, you could use the money you save to pay off debts, build your emergency fund, or put it towards another savings goal.

Reducing waste

Food production and food waste combined are among the largest emitters of greenhouse gases, contributing to global warming and climate change.

Vast amounts of resources – including energy, water, and fuel – go into the process of producing, storing, transporting and disposing of food.

So, wasting less could save you money and have a positive impact on the environment.

Here are some tips on how to do it.

Tips on how to save money and waste less food

First, it helps to be mindful of how we end up wasting food. Here are some common reasons:

  • serving bigger portions than necessary
  • throwing away, instead of eating, leftovers
  • storing incorrectly (not refrigerating)
  • letting food expire without using it
  • not making the most of ingredients (throwing out vegetable stalks, or skins and crusts)

And here are some ways to avoid wasting food.

1. Set a budget

Creating a budget is a great way to make the most of your money. Start by estimating how much you've spent on food over the last 3 months. It can help to check your transactions and statements. 

Are you comfortable with that amount, or do you want to spend less? If so, by how much? It can be helpful to set yourself a goal.

Then, each time you make a budget – for example, whenever you get paid – set aside a certain amount for food. Make sure it's realistic – it's fine to include luxury items as long as you're spending within your means.

2. Plan your meals

Make a list of your main meals for the coming week, including the ingredients you'll need. Check which ingredients you already have in and add the rest to your shopping list. 

If you've already got food in, try to account for it in your plan – especially fresh food that may otherwise go to waste. Are there items you could add, or substitute, in to the next week's recipes to save you buying more? 

Think about the types of ingredients on your list and try to include some cheaper meals. Is there anything you could batch cook to cover 2 dinners?

The main thing is to know why you're buying each item and to have a plan for how and when you'll use it – even if that's just 'afternoon snack'. This will prevent you buying more than you need.

3. Think about when and where you'll shop

Shopping less often can help you think more carefully about what you buy and save you money. You may find it easier to stick to your budget if you shop once a week – whether that's at one supermarket, or at several smaller shops.

And try to find the right shops for you – ones that have the types of food you want at prices that fit with your budget.

4. Store your food carefully

Check the best way to store different foods so they don't go off before you get to use them. Check use-by dates too. If you don't have a plan to use something before its use-by date, can you freeze it?

Batch cooking and freezing portions will also help you save money and preserve food. And then when you don't have time to cook, you've got a ready-made home-cooked meal. Just don't forget to defrost it.

5. Go online

Shopping online is a good way to manage your budget, as you can monitor how much you're spending with every item you add to your basket. Some shops offer a similar in-store experience, where you can add up as you go along.

Even if you're not placing an order, you can check prices online to have a better idea of whether your shopping list fits your budget.

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