Last Updated on December 25, 2021
One of the most important tips to remember when living on the road or traveling, is to keep to a budget. Full-time RV life is not that cheap. Even if you are only traveling for a short time, it is important to watch your spending. There are several ways you can budget for groceries and live efficiently while on the road.
Depending on where you go, prices can be higher or lower than what you are used to. It helps to shop smart so that you have enough money for groceries as you travel through different places. The key to efficient shopping is knowing where to shop, what to buy, and a few other hacks we are here to help you with.
1. No More Loyalty
If you typically shop at one store and get certain brands at home, you have to give this up when traveling. Prices can vary a great deal among brands and stores on the road, and sticking to your usual picks can cause you to spend too much. You should also develop the habit of looking at more than one place for groceries. One-stop shopping is convenient, but shopping where items are the cheapest will be more efficient. Even if that means visiting 2 or 3 stores on grocery day.
2. Specialty Stores
As you keep an eye out for which stores have the cheapest items, do not overlook specialty stores. For example, meats can often be purchased at lower prices from a butcher, seafood from a fishmonger, vegetables from a farmers market, and bread from a local bakery. If you are in an area for a while and can compare pricing from different stores, this is recommended to find the best prices for groceries while you are there.
3. Stick With the Basics
One of the main features of RV living is to simplify life. You leave many things at home and get back to basics. This same principle should apply to your groceries too. The basic staple foods will always give you the best value for your money, so stock up on butter, eggs, bread, rice, potatoes, cheese, beans, and yogurt. If you like to eat Organic you can find these items organic in most larger supermarkets everywhere. Meat can be expensive, but is also a staple for many. To save money with meat, opt for whole chickens and ground beef as cheaper options. Getting meat from a butcher will save money and be sure to avoid expensive cuts like lamb and steak.
4. Cheapest Brands
As you pick up your staples, look for the cheapest brands. For these basic foods, you do not need branded items. If all your groceries are coming from one supermarket, you can choose their ‘own-brand’ products for the basics to save money on the final bill. The only time this is not always a good idea is for top-range grocery stores, where all prices are high.
5. In-Season Produce
Fruits and vegetables are perishable but you still want them on the trip because they are better for you then the processed versions. To save money here, learn how the produce changes with the seasons. Fruits and vegetables that are in season are going to be plentiful and cheaper than rare ones that are being imported from somewhere else. You just need to do a little research of the area you’re headed to and what foods are in season and then shop accordingly.
6. Go Frozen For Off-Season
If the fruits and veggies you want are not in season or are too expensive, then always opt for frozen rather than canned. Frozen produce is typically cheaper and the nutrients remain because freezing does not destroy them. Plus frozen fruits and vegetables can be easily made into smoothies for quick breakfasts on the go.
7. Glass, Not Plastic
When you have to buy sauces or condiments of any kid, be sure you get glass bottles or jars and not plastic ones. The plastic bottles are more expensive to make so the prices will be higher too. When empty, the jars and glass bottles can be used for arts and crafts for the kids too.
8. Buy Loose
It is better to buy loose foods from bins or baskets if available, rather than pre-packaged foods. This is common for rice, eggs, sugar, salt, flour, spices, and nuts. This also applies to packaged meats and you can typically get cheaper meat from the deli because there is no packaging included in the end pricing. The pre-packaged versions may be more convenient, but they will cost you more too.
9. When You Can, Buy Bulk
If you come across a wholesale store or when grocery shopping before you hit the road, buy bulk where you can. While this is not probable for most foods like meats, because of limited freezer space, it is a good idea for non-perishable items. Foods like rice, potatoes, and eggs, that are going to be used frequently should be purchased in bulk. Bulk prices are cheaper and as long as it is a food that is getting eaten each day, it will not go to waste. Bulk buying of small snack packets are also great for keeping kids satisfied.
10. When To Shop
Not many people realize that there are better days and times to grocery shop. For most supermarkets, Wednesday is the best shopping day because special offers from the previous week are still in effect as are the new ones for the next week. Available discounts are essentially doubled.
Additionally, deliveries are usually made Monday and Tuesday, so you will be getting the freshest foods.
Grocery shopping is also better in the evening, as late as possible. Bakeries, delis, and other specialty stands will be getting rid of perishable items at very low prices. There will also be less people around and less crowded aisles.
11. Let The Offers Guide You
You may have a list when you go to the grocery store, but pay attention to offers. Let them guide you to the best deals to save you money. If you are getting a particular item but see that another brand is offering 3 for the price of 2, switch to that brand instead. Having a list is a great guide and ensures you don’t forget anything, but don’t let the list be rigid. If there are special offers, even on items you were not planning to get, make sure you take them, so long as the items will get used.
12. Beware of Impulse Buys
One way that lists are great, is they can limit your impulse buys. Sticking to your list means you will buy only what you need and will not waste money on stuff you don’t. The only time to deviate from your list is for special offers on items you will use and that will save you money. There are always rows of temptations at the check out lines, so be aware and be careful. You can avoid many of the impulse buys by shopping on a full stomach as most of them appeal to your taste, and if you are hungry, you’re more likely to give in and spend money.
13. Avoid Waste
Wasting food is wasting money and with traveling there is limited fridge and freezer space, so you need to be mindful. Wasting groceries is wasting money. If you’re traveling a do not buy excessively large amounts of perishable foods that you will not have time to eat. When you do buy perishable fruits, pick the ones that are unripe so they will not perish before you eat them.
14. Go Wild
When you can, hunt or forage for your food to save buying some. There may be some fresh fruit in the area you can pick or fish you can catch. If there are any opportunities to catch or forage for your food, then this serves to save money and serves as a fun activity for all.
15. Consume Less
This is left to the end because it may seem obvious, but is always worth saying. Many people eat food for comfort and traveling or living on the road can be unsettling at times. This is when having a grocery list is important and making sure the family only buys and eats what they need. There is limited storage and cooking space in an RV, so you want only the food you need. This saves money and is healthier for you too.
Grocery shopping is a task you will have to do while traveling, but it doesn’t have to be a challenge nor does it have to be expensive. With these tips you can get the groceries you need, for prices you can afford. Prices may vary as you travel from place to place, but with the right planning, you can stick to your budget and focus on fun.