5 Tips For Groceries On A Budget

How much we aim to spend and why

Do you sometimes also get a shock when you realise at the end of the month how much money you have spent on food? According to the Swiss Federal Statistical Office, each household in Switzerland spends an average of CHF 636 per month on food. That's a lot of money!

My partner and I have set ourselves the goal of reducing this amount to 400 francs for us. Of course, when Christmas or another big celebration is coming up, the amount can be higher. On the other hand, there are also months when we spend less. Our goal is to live as frugally as possible - and that includes all areas of life. Food in particular is a category where there is a lot of leeway when it comes to spending. Our credo is: spend as little as possible for the best possible quality.

"But good quality has its price." I see that as conditionally true. Those who know me know that I attach great importance to wholesome food - according to the motto "You are what you eat". Especially with foreign products, I try to go for organic quality. With Swiss products, it's the price difference that counts. If an organic broccoli costs exactly the same at Aldi as the conventional version, of course the unsprayed broccoli ends up in the shopping trolley.

Most importantly: Keep track of your expenses! It’s hard to save money on food if you don’t even know how much you spend on it every month in the first place.

Now let’s dive right into the practical tips for before and during your shopping trip.

1. Write a meal-plan and a shopping list

Probably the best tip of all: plan your food consumption! I write a meal plan for the coming week on Saturday morning. I make sure that I can prepare as little as possible (at least on the weekdays) and that I can do a lot of meal-prepping, i.e. using leftovers.

I then use the meal plan to write my shopping list. I usually write down exactly how much of which food I need so that there is no waste at the end.

I use the notes app on my iPhone for this and also share the lists with my partner. The shopping list is divided into the different shops where we usually shop (e.g. Aldi, Migros, Denner, Alnatura and Coop).

2. Check special-offers and plan your meal-plans and shopping lists accordingly

If you want to take meal planning a step further, you can include weekly promotions in the supermarkets in your planning. This will not only add variety and creative diversity to your meal plan, but will also save you a penny or two.

3. Limit substitute products as a vegan

Here's the deal: Vegan substitutes are usually not cheap. If they end up in your shopping cart a lot, try switching to more natural plant-based protein sources like legumes. Not only are they more natural and (depending on the product) free of any unwanted additives, but they also cost a fraction of a Beyond Meat Burger. You can even make your own (see this Fooby recipe). If you consume animal products, however, I would advise you not to value price over quality. It's better to pay more, but know that the animal was kept in a species-appropriate manner. You can also look out for weekly promotions.

4. Buy at discounters like Aldi for all the products you can

I grew up with a single mother and had to learn early on that money doesn't grow on trees. When I was little, there was no Lidl or Aldi in Switzerland and our go-to store was Migros (or Denner for a cheaper option).

Then, when Aldi gained a foothold in Switzerland, it quickly became our favourite supermarket for our big purchases. Discounters are much cheaper than their counterparts Migros or Coop. Organic products in particular cost much less. My partner and I try to buy everything we can get at Aldi. The rest we get at Migros or, depending on the product, at another supermarket.

5. Quite simple but very effective: Don't go grocery shopping when you're hungry!

If you already follow point 1 (shopping list), you already have a good foundation to avoid impulsive purchases. Another helpful trick to stick to your list is to go to the supermarket with a full stomach. Trust me, it will make it much easier not to fall for all those nicely displayed goodies!