How to Save Money on Your Grocery Bill
After holiday spending, higher than usual electric bills and upcoming plans for spring or summer vacations, the winter months can begin to hit your monthly budget harder than you’d like. Since your grocery bill is the one bill that you have a lot of control over, it can be the first place to turn to when you want to trim expenses and get your budget back on track.
Before you can truly begin to shave down your grocery bill each month, you’ll need to take time to track your expenses and analyze where you’re overspending. Are you visiting the grocery store 3-4 times a week, and picking up items that aren’t on your list while you’re there? Are you shopping name brand products, and ignoring generic products and weekly discounts or store markdowns? Do you check your store for coupons each week, and factor these into your meal planning for the week?
Once you know where you’re falling short, it’s easy to get back on track with a solid, strategic plan. Here are a few of our favorite tips for shaving dollars and cents off of your next grocery bill that will help you to save money each month and eat healthier while you’re at it!
The first way to begin cutting your grocery costs is to start with a plan. Before you even hit the store each week, you’ll want to plan your meals for the week, followed by the ingredients and products you’ll need to make them. Make a list of all items you’ll need for snacks, breakfasts, lunches and dinners, and include any extras that you may need (ice cream for weekend dessert or a bottle of wine for a family dinner on Saturday night). Once you have your complete list, head to the store and stay committed to your list, at all times. If you make sure to purchase everything you need during this one trip, then you won’t have to return later in the week and risk purchasing impulse items.
Most generic brands of your favorite products taste just as good as the brand names, while costing considerably less at checkout. When shopping, try to look at the top and bottom of the shelves for generic options of your favorite foods and products. Most brand name products will sit at eye level, making it easier for you to miss the cost savings above and below them. If you try a generic product and the taste doesn’t stack up, at least you know that this is a product you’ve fully investigated. Whenever possible, going generic will take your price per product down right away.
Coupon clipping may sound like a long and laborious process, but if you get into a habit of knowing where to look and what to look for each week, you’ll find that you can clip the coupons you need, and save time and money in the grocery aisle. Nowadays, you can find coupons in both the grocery store ads in your mail or at the entrance to your favorite store, as well as on a variety of cost-saving apps and websites online or on your phone. Before you meal plan each week, check out the sales and discounts available to you, and factor these into your meal plan and grocery list. Once applied, a handful of coupons and discount codes can cut your bill by up to 25% without much work at all.
Shop Seasonal Produce
When produce is in season, it tends to cost considerably less, making it an optimal time to buy. Additionally, depending upon the season you’re in, you may save on seasonal products like BBQ sauces, ketchup, mustard, relish and hotdog and hamburger buns. Try to watch for seasonal shifts in your favorite stores, and follow suit with your shopping.
Buy Frozen Over Fresh
While purchasing fresh produce is most appealing, it isn’t always necessary, and shopping the frozen aisle can save you a bundle at checkout. Shop for frozen produce, like broccoli, green beans, peas, corn and edamame, and you can plan to spend less while not having to worry about food waste if it isn’t eaten in time.
Buy Less Meat
Meat products tend to be some of the most expensive, and can ratchet up your grocery bill fast. Even if you are a heavy meat eater, it is possible to reduce the amount of meat you buy by substituting meat with beans in your chili or enchiladas, or simply omitting meat from your dish entirely. Dishes like lasagna and pasta can be just as delicious without meat, and just as filling. Try to find at least 1-2 meals a week to forego meat, and you’ll watch your grocery bill go down quickly.
Life can get busy, and it can become a challenge to prepare and make homemade meals every night of the week. Whenever it is possible to prep in advance, try to make meals from scratch rather than turning to pre-packaged food and takeout. You’ll save a lot of money by sticking to simple ingredients, and you’ll be eating healthier along the way.
Pay with Cash
Each week before you hit the grocery store, stop to pick up the exact amount in cash you’ll need to shop. You’ll end up being a more conscious shopper, and you’ll find it to be extremely difficult to deviate from your grocery list. Paying with cash also forces you to look clearly at how much you truly have to spend on groceries each month, and it will keep you connected to your spending week over week.
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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