10 Tips for Saving Money on Groceries
Whether your grocery budget includes an entire famiy or just yourself, you've probably noticed that it costs a lot more to eat than you'd like. As it turns out, food is the third largest household expense, and even if you choose to shop for bargains, you're likely to send a big chunk of your paycheck in the direction of your nearest grocer.
If you want to cut your budget down without having to live on dry bread and water, you'll have to start with a strategy. Believe it or not, you can reduce your grocery budget if you plan ahead, shop smart and make strategic choices both in and outside of the store. Here are 10 tips to help you save money on groceries without sacrificing your appetite and your growling belly.
Eat well for less with these simple tips:
Inventory Your Pantry Monthly
Each month, take inventory of your pantry to stay aware of staples that are running low. While you may not use some of these items every day, on days when you do need them, you'll want to have them stocked to avoid running out and buying them on full price. Once you know what items you need to stock up on, you can shop around and find the best prices for things like spices, baking goods, oils, sauces, etc.
Do Your Research
Take a day and visit several of your area grocery stores, drug stores, Walmart, etc. Check the prices on the items that you purchase every week, including milk, chicken, dairy products, veggies, fruits, etc. Make note of which stores carry your standard products for less. If you know that you can buy milk from your neighborhood drug store for $0.30 less than at the grocery store (usually true!), then you'll know where to buy your milk. You may end up visiting a few stores to complete your weekly grocery shopping list, but it'll be worth it when you suddenly begin saving hundreds of dollars a year without changing the amount of food you buy.
Check out weekly sales at your favorite grocery store, and use this to help you plan your meals and your weekly shopping list. Use the sale items to help you come up with creative new meal ideas for your family, and take advantage of big savings on meat, produce and other products, week to week.
Download/Cut Coupons and Use Them Wisely
You don't have to scour the newspaper for coupons anymore. In fact, you can easily access coupons online, and should be downloading them regularly to keep track of deals that you can work to your advantage. Coupons.com and Smartsource.com are two online coupon hubs, along wtih many others that may be specific to your area. Once you've downloaded the coupons, use them wisely. Wait to use them when you know the product is on sale in the store as well, and you'll save double on the full price amount!
Stopping by the store after work several days a week can wreak havoc on your grocery budget. It's better to plan ahead and shop only once per week for everything you need. This way, you'll avoid buying things you don't need, or having to purchase items on full price. Choose a day when you can visit several stores to access the best deals on your household staples and weekly meals, and avoid the grocery store for the remainder of the week.
If you can, head to the store on your own, and avoid picking up items you don't need or even want. While it's fun to take the entire family to the store, it's hard to stay focused and on track with a group around you. Take yourself, your bags, your list and your cash with you to the store, and you may end up spending 8% less than those who shop with their loved ones.
Use a Smaller Cart
When you have a bigger cart, it's likely that you'll do your part to fill it. Give yourself less room to carry all that stuff you don't need, and you'll find it easier to stick to your plan and only buy what you need/came for. Unless you're on an intentional bulk grocery run, choose the smallest possible cart that can accomodate your grocery list, and leave with exactly what you came for.
Avoid the Middle Shelves
Companies pay extra to be placed at eye level on the shelves (both yours AND your kids, so watch out), and these products are often the most expensive. Shop the bottom and tops of shelves for less expensive, lesser known products that typically cost less and feature better deals and sales.
Avoid Pre-Packaged and Single Serve Products
Choose to cut and slice your own fruits and veggies, rather than buying them pre-cut. Also, buy the big box of goldfish or crackers for your kiddos instead of the single serve packages, and you'll save up to a couple dollars each time you buy. You can bag, cut and prep at home and those extra dollars will add up quickly.
Examine Your Receipt and Make Adjustments
Each week, review your receipt carefully. Look for the most expensive items on your list, and do your research to see if you can find them somewhere else for a lower price, or search for coupons and sales. Try to whittle down your expensive items list so that you reduce the amount of money you spend on each and every item on your list.
Filed Under: Life at Signature Place Apartments, Hampton, VA
Mira Roberts studied writing at New York University, graduating with a BA in English Literature before pursuing a career in media, marketing and management with PARADE Magazine, Portfolio Magazine, AltDaily, skirt! and lululemon athletica. A full time mother, writing instructor and part-time freelance writer, Mira lives and laughs with her family in Norfolk, VA.
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