UNITED STATES—If there is one thing most people know about me, it’s that I hate an empty fridge. The notion of not having food in the fridge or cabinets leaves me befuddled. I guess it goes back to my college days where funds were extremely sparse and with the little I had, it was like pinching pennies to make it appear I had something to eat. Let me be clear this is not a column aimed at a sob tale; it’s a tale about how to stock the cabinets, the fridge and the freezer without breaking the bank at the same time.

I’ve had this conversation with so many people over the years; the price of groceries has risen to gargantuan rates in recent years. As a result, the notion of doing all your grocery shopping at one place without visiting multiple places seems foreign. Yes, this is something I’ve noticed with a lot and I mean a lot of people I know including family prefer to just doing all the shopping at one place.

There is a big problem with that notion if you ask me. Why? Sales are rare and far in between. I’ve always found this to be true: whenever I need to purchase groceries, no one seems to have a sale, and as a result I tend to spend more. The worst thing you can do is purchase groceries when you have absolutely nothing in the cabinet, fridge or freezer. Why? You’ve heard the saying never go shopping on an empty stomach right? The reason being everything looks good to you and you will buy anything that catches your eye.

At the same time you might overbuy as a result. The fact that you have nothing, you tend to want to purchase more so that you appear to have tons in your fridge. I am guilty of that, and I’ve learned I have to be more self-aware of the items I purchase. I don’t need to purchase 10 cucumbers when perhaps I only need 1 or 2. I think more money is wasted on fruits and vegetables than any other food item. Why? They have a short shelf-life, and sometimes the brain doesn’t register how quickly those items have to be used with dishes so they don’t go to waste.

I’m an advocate for shopping at multiple stores for food. If one place has a sell on meat, it’s not a bad idea to stock up on meat at that location. If your local Farmer’s Market that has a bevy of deals on fruits and veggies stop by there, when it comes to household goods for the cabinets, fridge and freezer you have to pick and choose your battles. Look, I cannot recall the last time in years, where I visited a supermarket that had a sale so good it checked off every single item on my list. It very rarely happens, so I would never bank on it becoming a reality.

You do have to weigh the option of rather it’s worth spending more in gas to visit this place and that place and so on. Choices, you have to make them one way or another. If you live in a region where all the stores you frequently visit are in close proximity that can work to your advantage. It is also important to not make unnecessary trips if you don’t have to. If you know you have to venture out on a Friday, don’t venture out 2-3 days earlier if there is no need to do so.

I will admit a smart technique when it comes to stocking up on groceries is to purchase food items that can turn into multiple meals. I’m guilty of this like so many others, where I plan my grocery shopping around meals I want to prepare. It is slightly smart, but at the same time troubling. Why? Certain meals can be quite expensive; one that always comes to mind for me is lasagna. It is easily $20-$25 to prepare the dish, maybe more depending on how many people you are planning to feed.

The list is the most important thing to ensuring you don’t purchase more than you expect. Why? If you have a list you are more inclined to stick to it and not waiver too much. I use a list ALL THE TIME and I never hear the end of it. However, I don’t care, I have a budget and I have to stick to it otherwise I spend more than I need, I waste money I don’t have purchasing items I don’t really need and I end up wasting food. I hate wasting food and considering we live in a time where so many people have food insecurity, we shouldn’t be wasting food at all.

Until the day that we die we will always have to visit the supermarket it’s a rite of passage if you ask me. However, if you learn at an early age how to keep your household full of groceries without breaking the bank and wasting food, you’ll be the winner in the long run.

Written By Kelsey Thomas