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Grocery shopping can quickly become a major expense. Even with simple ingredients, how you shop can make a big difference in how much it costs. A little preparation goes a long way in saving money at the grocery store—leaving more money in your pocket for other expenses. 

Five Tips for Grocery Shopping on a Budget

When you’re planning for your trip to the grocery store, it’s important that you make and stick to a plan for reducing how much you spend. Check out these five tips for ways to cut costs while still getting what you need. 

Make a List

Making a list not only helps you plan for what you need but can also help prevent wasteful or impulsive buying. If you have a list, you are less likely to buy something that you don’t really need or won’t use. A list can also keep you from buying things you already have. Once your list is made, we recommend you go through your kitchen to see if you already have these items, before you go to the store.

Compare Prices

Comparing prices between grocery stores can be a time-consuming task, but in the long run, can play a big role in reducing your grocery bill. By comparing prices at different stores you can find out if shopping somewhere cheaper makes sense for your family. The easiest way to comparison shop is to look on each store’s website, app, or even weekly circular, for specific items and compare how much they cost.  

While you’re doing this, make sure to pay attention to how the store is advertising its prices. You’ll often see stores touting how low or high certain products are compared with other local stores and national averages for those items. This can be a great way of finding out if one place will typically have better deals on specific items.

Use Coupons

Couponing is another task that can take up time but can be very rewarding. Using coupons can help you save a lot of money on products that your family likes and uses regularly. Many people find themselves saving the most money with couponing; stocking up to get excellent deals on their favorite brands and items can really pay off. And don’t feel like you have to take your couponing to an extreme level to make an impact on your budget. Just a small amount of couponing a few times a month can really add up in savings. Bonus: Many stores’ apps allow you to clip and use coupons digitally so you don’t have to keep track of paper coupons.

Buy Store Brands

Buying store brands instead of name brands can also help to save money. Often, the quality of name brand products is the same as store brands and the price difference is sometimes up to 25%. By switching over to buying only your favorite store brand items, you could spend less on groceries every month while still purchasing great products for your family.

Buy in Bulk

Being strategic about buying in bulk can also help to save money on groceries. But buying products in bulk can also have a downside—if you don’t end up using the product before it expires or spoils, then buying bulk will obviously be a waste of your time and money. However, buying things that will last for a long time (like frozen foods or toilet paper) is a good way to save money on groceries.

How to Make a Grocery List

If you’re wondering where to start when it comes to making a grocery list, then you’re definitely in the right place! Making a grocery list is an important step when it comes to how to save money on groceries. If you know what types of products that your family needs, then buying them will be much easier and more cost-effective.

Figure Out What You Need

The first step in making a grocery list is to figure out what you need. You can do this by making a list of all the food and products that your family needs to buy throughout the week. This isn’t always easy, so it may take some time before you get everything down on paper (or in a digital document). You’ll want to take into account any meals you’ll be making or other foods you’ll want to be eating during that time.

Figure Out What You Have

Once you have an idea of what you need, then you can figure out how much of it you already have. This is where a lot of people go wrong with their grocery list. They put things on the list that they don’t actually need because they’re forgetting what’s in their cabinets and refrigerator at home. You’ll want to take inventory of your food supplies before going shopping so that you don’t buy unnecessary things.

Organize By Aisle

When making the list you will take to the store, it will save you tons of time if you group items by the aisles that they’re in. This will make it easier to go shopping and not waste time looking for something specific. For example, if your list has multiple types of bread on it (bagels, French bread, etc.) then put those all together on the list so that when you get to the aisle with all the bread, you can easily identify which items you need.

Be Specific About Quantity

Another mistake that people make when making a grocery list is how vague it can be. Quantity will really matter if you are on a budget. For example, instead of jotting down “butter” or “onions,” put down the specific amount you will need so you can quickly get your items and save money by reducing excess buying habits.

Match Up Coupons with Items

Organizing your coupons can help you make sure you are getting the right item that is applicable with the coupon as coupons tend to be very specific about brand and size. Matching up the coupons to specific items will ensure you are maximizing how much your coupon can do for you!

Increasing Your Grocery Budget

If your budget is forcing you to skimp when it comes to grocery shopping, one way to gain the ability to increase that budget is to reduce your debt. At CreditAssociates, we could help you resolve your debt for a fraction of what’s owed–leaving more money in your pocket each month for things like groceries. Our expert debt consultants can walk you through our process to reduce your debt as you begin your journey towards financial freedom. Start your free consultation today.

Common Questions About Grocery Shopping:

How much do most people spend on groceries each month?

A study by the U.S. Department of Agriculture found that Americans spend around 11% of their income on food. While there is no exact answer to how much you should spend on groceries each month, it’s important for your grocery budget to be proportional to how much money you make.

How much produce should you buy at one time?

How much produce you buy should depend on what type of produce you buy and how quickly you plan to consume it. While bananas may last 2–5 days at room temperature, garlic can last up to 3–6 months. We recommend buying whatever you are confident you will use in the time that something will last. If you’re not sure how long it will last, we recommend doing some research before going to the store. Frozen produce can be another good way to help prevent waste and is often cheaper than the fresh alternative. For example, instead of buying fresh blueberries, try swapping for frozen ones and only thawing out what you need, as you need it.

Should I buy organic foods?

While there are benefits to buying organic foods, they also tend to be more expensive. To answer this question for your situation, we recommend taking a look at your budget. If buying organic is important to you and you have the wiggle room in the budget to do so, then, by all means, go ahead! If it’s not important to you or if your budget is tight, then staying away from organic might be your best option.

How can I figure out what to cook?

If you’re feeling lost in the kitchen, you’re not alone. We all have those days where we can’t think of how to make a meal or what ingredients are needed for your favorite recipes. Sometimes it feels like there’s too much on our plates to even begin cooking anything. Lucky for us, Google and Pinterest can serve as amazing resources to find recipes that fit exactly what you’re craving.