How to Save Money on Groceries
Grocery shopping may be one of the most common things that we do, but even though it seems straightforward, groceries can end up consuming a significant chunk of your monthly income.
After all, even though buying groceries is typically considered to be cheaper than dining out, there are still plenty of traps and pitfalls that can cost you hundreds of dollars each month.
So, in this article, let’s explore how to save money on groceries with a list of helpful tips.
Start with a Budget and Track Expenses
If you’re going to figure out how to save money grocery shopping, you’re going to need to keep track of how much you’re spending and how much you can allow yourself to spend.
Look at the expenses of the past couple of months and try to identify how much you spent on groceries – go through any checks that you might have kept, as well as your credit card statements.
Then, figure out a grocery budget that you’re comfortable spending each month, breaking down the amount into weekly chunks so that it’s easier to track.
An important thing to consider is that if you’re going to save money on groceries, you’re going to need to start keeping track of all of your grocery shopping from now on.
Meal Plan and Prep
Buying food that you don’t end up using is one of the most likely reasons why your grocery budget might be inflated.
But if you don’t know what you’re going to eat, it’s almost impossible to put together a detailed shopping list, since you need to keep your options open depending on what you decide later.
That’s why meal planning can be such a game-changer.
When you plan your meals in advance, it makes grocery shopping on a budget that much easier, because then you know exactly what you need to buy every time you visit the store.
And if you prepare your meals in advance, you will not only save a ton of money but will end up saving a lot of time as well.
Make a Grocery List and Stick To It
A big part of learning how to save money on groceries is being disciplined when in the store.
There will always be temptations as you’re going through the aisles of snacks, sweets, or sugary drinks, but you need to remain strong and resist the temptation to fill your cart with unnecessary items.
Luckily, this gets a lot easier if you make a shopping list prior to going to the store. This way, you can steer clear of the aisles that don’t have items on your list, which will help you save money on groceries every time you visit the store.
Bring Only Enough Cash for What You’ve Budgeted
If you feel like you might not be able to stick to your list even if you make it, there are additional measures you could take to prevent yourself from spending more than you need.
One of the best ways to save money on groceries is to limit the amount of money that you bring – this way, you won’t have the option to take anything that you won’t need simply because you won’t have enough money.
While this may seem like a drastic measure, it can be useful when you’re still learning how to save on groceries, as it will help you stay on track and not get derailed during your first thrifty visits to the store.
Price Compare Your Local Grocery Stores
While you can certainly save a lot of money by limiting your own spending, you still need to make sure that the grocery store that you frequent offers the best prices for the products that you need.
To be sure, go around a few of the nearby supermarkets and compare the prices of your most common food items – you may discover that one of the stores is significantly cheaper than the others, providing you more bang for every buck that you spend.
If you have the patience and the time, you may even want to consider going to a couple of different grocery stores on one trip and taking advantage of the various deals that they offer.
Shop Your Pantry, Fridge, and Freezer
If you’re like most people, chances are your pantry and freezer have foods that have been sitting there for a while without being used, which provides an excellent opportunity to save on groceries.
Go through your fridge, freezer, and pantry and try to figure out how you could use up the foods that are still good.
Then, make a list of items that you need to complement the remaining foods, and you can create delicious meals that will cost a fraction of what they could while simultaneously clearing up your pantry and freezer for products that you use more often.
Coupons and Sales
As we’ve briefly mentioned before, a big part of learning how to save money on groceries is being smart about where you shop and taking advantage of better pricing.
Advanced frugal shoppers take it a step further and are always on the prowl for various sales and coupons that can help them stock up on items at an incredible price.
So, if you want to stretch your shopping budget even more, subscribe to the newsletter of your local grocery stores and go through them each week, identifying the best deals and only then deciding where you’ll do this week’s shopping.
Sometimes stores will let go of long-lasting food items at a fraction of the cost, so if you can stock up at opportune times, it might become one of the best tips for saving money on groceries that you’ll end up using.
Well-known brands are usually more appealing, which is why many people are willing to pay a premium when buying them.
However, in many cases, the difference between the expensive brand option and the affordable generic option is only the label, so it simply doesn’t make sense to spend the extra amount when you don’t get anything for it.
Try out the generic alternatives to various products that you use and see if there’s a significant difference. If there isn’t, you may be able to cut a large part of your spending without having to change almost anything in the way that you shop.
One of the best ways to save money on groceries is to evaluate the foods that have a long shelf life and buy them in bulk instead of in small quantities.
Many stores offer better pricing on bulk items, so you can stock up on various canned or frozen at a much better price, especially if you also manage to combine buying in bulk with buying items on sale.
Obviously, you won’t be able to shelf all of the products that you use, but there are quite a few common foods with a long shelf life. So, as long as you have a designated place to store them, you could spend more now and then drastically cut your shopping budget for a long time.
Avoid Eye-Level Products
One of the sneakiest ways that supermarkets get people to buy expensive items is by placing them at the eye level of most shoppers.
This simple trick works because people are more likely to see those items and might not even explore other options before quickly grabbing it off the shelf, even though the item might cost quite a lot more than some of the available alternatives.
Instead, once you spot something you need on an eye-level shelf, look down at the bottom shelves and you’re likely to find alternatives that are much cheaper or on sale.
Bring a Calculator
When you’re buying dozens of items on a grocery list, adding up the cost in your head becomes almost impossible.
Therefore, it’s always a good idea to use a calculator to quickly add up all the foods on your list and know exactly how much you will need to pay at the counter.
Most smartphones have calculator apps installed by default, so you can just take out your phone and add up the costs as you shop so that you don’t have to do it all at once.
Can You Buy Frozen Over Fresh?
Many people are hesitant about buying frozen food options because they’re afraid that it might not be as healthy or tasty.
However, the truth is, frozen foods typically retain even more nutrients than fresh produce. That’s because vegetables and seafood are frozen at their most ripened and fresh state, unlike fresh produce that has to be transported and may not be of the best quality once it reaches the shelves.
What’s more, once you buy frozen foods, you don’t have to worry about using them up quickly – frozen foods and pre-made meals can stay in your freezer for weeks or even months, giving you plenty of time to use them up gradually.
When you’re grocery shopping on a budget, the best way to save is to prepare a shopping list.
Part of that preparation is also to achieve your financial goals, contact us today and start your journey to financial wellbeing.