23 Ways to Save Money on Groceries
Believe it or not, the cost of groceries has declined in recent years. Depending on where you shop, you might not have noticed the change. But even with prices coming down, the cost of putting good, healthy food on the table for your family can be prohibitive. Groceries store are meticulously designed to keep you shopping. The longer you’re in the store, the more money you’re bound to spend. How can you avoid buying more than you need?
Follow these simple rules to stay on budget while grocery shopping:
- Plan ahead and make a list: The last thing you want to do is impulse buy at the grocery store.
- Avoid buying things you already have: Check the refrigerator and your pantry before you leave for the store. Buying duplicate items is one way to spend too much, and so is wasting food.
- Buy in bulk: It doesn’t take long to recoup your investment in a Costco, Sam’s Club, or BJ’s membership. Buying non-perishable items and paper products in bulk saves both money and time.
- Use coupons to plan meals: Clip coupons and use them to plan the week’s meals. This way you save and don’t have to come up with a meal at the last minute.
- Use food before it expires: Again, wasting food is akin to throwing away money. According to Marketwatch.com, Americans throw away $165 billion in food each year.
- Shop weekly: Going to the store once a week with a thorough list will help you avoid last minute and impulse shopping. Remember, they want you to come to the store often and stay as long as possible.
- Compare prices: If you have multiple grocers in your neighborhood, be sure to compare prices, particularly on items you buy on a regular basis.
- You don’t have to buy all 10 for $10: Read the fine print and buy what you need. Most of those bulk offers don’t require you to buy the full amount in order to get the savings.
- Visit coupons.com, SmartSource.com, or redplum.com: These are just a few of the coupon sites available on the web.
- Don’t buy the item just because you have a coupon: Coupons are a great thing when it comes to savings but not if they encourage you to buy things you don’t need or, worse still, things that are not good for you.
- Ask for a raincheck: If a sale item is unavailable ask the customer service desk for a raincheck and pick up the item next time and save.
- Take advantage of loyalty programs: Most grocery stores have a program that saves you money based on how much you spend. Before signing up, make sure you understand how it works and pay close attention to your receipt to see just how much you’ve saved.
- Eat before you shop: How may times have you gone to the store hungry only to come home with items you really don’t want?
- Some of the best deals are on the bottom shelf: Grocery stores are laid out to keep you shopping. Product maps dictates placing the more expensive items at eye-level, so be sure to check both top and bottom shelves for better deals.
- Avoid prepackaged and single-serving prepared foods: Though they are convenient, these are some of the most expensive items in the store. If time permits you should avoid them whenever possible.
- Avoid shopping for staples at the convenience store: The convenience store is just that. It’s there should you need something in a hurry. But nearly everything in it is more expensive than at your neighborhood grocer.
- Buy what’s in season locally: The biggest mark-ups at the grocery store are fruits and vegetables. Buying items in season can save you money. Also check out local farm stands for cheaper organic items.
- Avoid the inner aisles: The middle aisles of the grocery store are a trap. Once you move off the perimeter you move into higher prices and potential impulse buys that may run up your bill.
- Generics are okay: Not only do you save, but you might be surprised to learn that name brand companies are making them, just without the name brand.
- Shop at specialty stores when looking for exotic ingredients: Looking for spices or exotic ethnic foods, you’re sure to find a better selection and cheaper prices at a specialty store than you would at the grocery store.
- Pre-washed and pre-cut is always more expensive: Again, convenience costs you money even if it does save time.
- Grow your own: A small herb garden can be a great way to save on high-priced herbs.
- Leftovers save you money: Cook staple items like chicken in bulk and eat it throughout the week with different fixings. Spaghetti squash can also be served a number of different ways, so you won’t get bored eating it the same way all week.