Does it feel like every time you go out to buy groceries, the bill always comes out way higher than you expected? If this sounds a lot like you and/or your partner, don’t worry, we’re here to help! Get ready to say goodbye to the days of being surprised at the cash register and cut back expenses than ever before on grocery shopping.
Here are 16 ways you can save money on groceries. You can use these before, during, and after your next supermarket visit!
BEFORE stepping foot in the supermarket…
Like anything else in life, if you truly want to be successful in budget shopping, then your efforts should start before you even get in your car. And don’t worry, we know you don’t have all the time in the world on your hands. Believe it or not, these few steps can take less than ten minutes to prepare and can save you hundreds of dollars!
1) Know your budget
Just like any big purchase in life, you’re going to want to go into the grocery store knowing what you can spend. And, the good news is, you only have to do this step once. Unless your paycheck substantially changes or some other unforeseen circumstance comes up, odds are if you figure out your food budget one time, you are set for all future thrift shopping.
Take note of your grocery shopping habits: do you tend to buy in bulk and only go shopping once every couple of weeks? Or do you tend to have a certain day each week you like to go? Whatever your grocery shopping style is, figure out how much money each month you hope to spend on groceries, and spend accordingly.
2) Have a grocery list
We know, this tip might sound a little silly to some of you. And perhaps some of you are thinking, “Of course I have a grocery list! How can you walk into the store without knowing what to buy?!” On the other hand, others are thinking, “That takes all the fun out of shopping! I just like to go in and see what looks good that day!”
While it may be true that it’s always fun to try something new, you should really make a list and stick to it. Therefore, having a list will keep you on task and prevent you from getting distracted by costly or unnecessary items.
MAKE IT FUN!
If you like to treat yourself, go ahead and write on your list “$5 mystery item!” This way you can still have that little bit of excitement while staying on budget and on track.
3) Don’t go hungry
Just think about it. Have you ever gone grocery shopping hungry? Suddenly your cart is full of unhealthy quick-to-eat snacks and nothing worthy of making a meal. This is because when you go grocery shopping hungry, you’re more prone to impulse buy food based on your current state of hunger. So, make sure your tummy is satisfied before going into the store. Or, if you live a more “on-the-go” lifestyle, make sure you always have an emergency snack in your car or purse. This way you can satisfy your stomach before you break the bank inside the store on all those yummy yummy snacks!
4) Keep children home
We know how much we love our kids, but let’s face it, in the grocery store they are nothing but “over spenders”! From wanting to try out the latest cereal to grabbing a candy bar off the shelf, kids are probably the best way to stray from your grocery list and therefore your weekly budget.
That is to say, odds your kids aren’t picking the healthiest items off the shelf anyway. Do your best to leave them at home if possible. It’s best for the health and financial safety of everyone!
5) Meal prep
If you always struggle to put together a grocery list based on what meals you’ll eat that week- then meal prep is definitely the answer for you! We love meal prep because it’s good for your bank account AND your health.
In other words, Win-win. Plus, you’ll get to try out new recipes and not have to worry about cooking every day of the week. What can be better than that?
WHILE grocery shopping…
Alright, so you planned for your shopping trip using steps 1-5…and now what? How do you stick to your budget while grocery shopping? Good question! Tips #6-11 are the ones you need to live by while you’re in the supermarket.
6) Use smaller carts or a basket
Perhaps you’ve heard of the study done that says people who weigh less use smaller plates at meal time? This is based off the idea that your subconscious mind wants to fill up the plate to feel full, even though it’s most likely causing you to consume more calories than necessary.
At any rate, the same idea applies when selecting what kind of carrier you should use in the grocery store. Is your list fifteen things or less? Then perhaps you can get away with the smaller shopping cart. While grabbing the biggest wagon you can find for your shopping trip might feel necessary, stop yourself next time and ask “do I really need all this space?” Or perhaps, more appropriately, “can my bank account afford for me to fill this thing up?”
7) Think before you buy more
There’s probably someone in life, whether it’s your significant other or your mother, who has always asked you prior to a purchase, “do you really need that?” If you’ve got that person in your mind, then perhaps take them with you, mentally, to the grocery store.
Before you grab an item that’s not on your supermarket list, let that person’s voice play in your head. “Do you really need that?” Odds are you don’t and you should put it back on the shelf. For this reason, your bank account will thank you later.
8) Use coupons
There are so many ways to get coupons these days! Whether it’s to your email inbox, from a web search, or delivered right to your front door step, the savings from coupons really do add up!
In fact, it might not hurt to compare supermarket circulars prior to going out shopping and see who has the best prices on the items you need that week. You can budget on grocery just by doing your research and clipping a few coupons. And if you know ahead of time that you need to pick up a big ticket item that week, do a web search for coupons first, you might be surprised by the savings you find!
9) Buy seasonal food
Did you know that there are more than just financial benefits from buying from your local farmers market? In addition to getting better prices, you’re contributing to the local economy, AND getting tastier, more nutritious food.
That’s right, not only does seasonal food taste better, but it’s also better for you. Because certain crops thrive better at certain times of the year, fruits and vegetables are actually more healthful when they are at their pique harvesting time. So the next time you need to stock up on fresh fruits and vegetables, consider what’s in season and hit up your local farmer’s market.
10) Shop on the bottom shelves
Believe it or not, the items that aren’t stocked at eye level are cheaper! That’s because name brands pay to have prime shelving, and yet oftentimes, products that are of equivalent quality but cheaper pricing are ignored by buyers simply because they aren’t the most conveniently placed.
So the next time you’re in the grocery, take a minute and truly study the options for the product you need to buy. Consider all the brands. Look at the ingredients. Note which products are basically the same but are priced extremely differently. Chances are, it’s those out of sight products that should really be getting your attention if you’re hoping to save a few bucks.
11) Shop at dollar stores
Milk…eggs…bread…the essentials…all for a dollar? Can’t be! While of course you aren’t going to find fresh produce at your local dollar store, much of the stuff you do need and use can be found there.
Aside from food items…soap, cleaning products, laundry detergents, snacks, candy, beverages…almost anything except for fresh fruits and veggies can be found in the dollar store! So the next time you arrange your grocery list, hit up the dollar store first and see just how much money you can truly save by choosing dollar items!
AFTER grocery shopping…
The groceries have been bought, the money has been spent, that’s it for savings…right? Wrong! Even after you have already made your supermarket purchases, there are still opportunities to reduce spendings and make money believe it or not. Keep reading tips 12-16 below to see how!
12) Use cash back credit cards
Did you know that grocery shopping is its whole own points department as far as credit card companies are concerned? For instance, you can get all the way up to a whopping 6% cash back on groceries, simply by signing up for the right credit card.
It may not seem like a lot, but at the end of the day, it’s great knowing you’re getting money back for buying something you know you need- FOOD!
13) Check your receipt
It doesn’t always happen, but every so often a busy cashier might ring a single item up twice, or forget to apply a coupon. There’s plenty that can go wrong and get in the way of your savings so be diligent as you watch your cashier scan your items and check the receipt to make sure you get the savings you deserve!
14) Get cash back apps
So, not only can you get cash back from your credit card…but you can ALSO get cash back with apps! Sounds like magic, doesn’t it? But truly, it’s just a reward for good planning.
With apps like Ibotta, you can scan your grocery shopping receipts and receive cash back rewards simply for purchasing items you need. The app is completely free by the way, so you might as well give it a try! It’s a good way to stack up rewards while you budget your money.
15) Track your expenses
No matter how good or bad your finances are, this is a habit you should get into. Each month tally up how much is spent on necessities like grocery shopping, electricity bills, commuting to work, etc, and how much is spent on things that aren’t quite as necessary such as eating out and date nights.
In conclusion, it’s important to make sure you’re spending within your means and not spending irresponsibly. Plus, it’s always fun to celebrate at the end of the month if you end up decreasing your monthly expenses. Then you can put that money towards that dream vacation you’ve been wanting to take, or a down payment on a house!
16) Reuse leftovers
There’s nothing worse than throwing out food that could have been eaten. Part of the reason couples can be so wasteful with food really just comes down to bad planning.
Check the expiration dates when you buy food and organize your refrigerator accordingly. Put the most time sensitive food in the front, and items that have a little longer shelf life in the back. This way you know at a glance what needs to be eaten sooner rather than later and you can stop putting good food (and money) to waste!
The Bottom line
To sum up, when it comes to saving on groceries, you’ve got quite a few options. Whether it’s planning ahead of time, cutting coupons, or signing up for some cashback apps or credit cards, there’s more than one way to save.
And remember, the more money you save on groceries, the more money you have to put towards your financial goals. So the next time you realize that you saved $75 at the grocery store, celebrate, and think of it as “$75 closer to our dream home!”
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