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Shopping for Food is EXPENSIVE! Due to rising costs, it has become imperative to save money on groceries. Well, at least for me!
As per Bureau of Labour Statistics, food is the third largest household expense. And an average family of four spends anywhere between $570-$1250 per month on groceries as per their budget. Thinking about it, that’s a lot of money to be spent on groceries.
You might already be using coupons to save money on groceries at the grocery store. Coupons are a great way to save money but I don’t use them (Why? I will come to it later), but there are more and better ways when thinking to save money at the grocery store. After all, saving money on groceries is no rocket science!
Here are the best ways I have learned to save money on groceries at the grocery store (without any compromise).
1. Plan Before You Go
You can save a significant amount of money before you even enter the store if you properly plan your shopping. Here is what I mean by proper planning:
a. Check out Weekly Ads
At almost every place, local grocery stores publish weekly ads listing their best deals on items. It’s a good way to save money on grocery as prices are not the same at every grocery store. Just compare the deals and you can save money by visiting the other store which you don’t visit regularly. We have a different scenario here since we have three grocery stores very near to each other, we buy items from all three stores wherever we get the cheapest.
Also. planning your meals using these weekly sale items can significantly increase your savings compared to traditional meal planning.
b. Check your Fridge and Pantry
Always check out your pantry and fridge before going shopping. This gives you an idea of what you have, what you need to buy and helps you avoid buying extra if you already have sufficient quantity of something. This will also help you save money if you plan your meal.
It’s a good habit to save money, we don’t plan all meals ahead but we make sure that we use the things we have in excess and adjust our grocery budget accordingly. If you can do that, it’s best to plan your meals.
Here are some meal prep ideas to help you save some time.
c. Make A List
Yes, creating a list is very important before you go shopping. It will help you save a lot of money on groceries if you stick to the list and avoid impulse buying and buying extra items. This will help you save money as well as get in and out of the store faster.
This is the easiest way to save money. So, list saves both money as well as time. I have even heard that going hungry on grocery shopping makes you spend more, though I have never tried this. This interactive grocery list template by USDA is quite handy.
d. Correct Payment Method
You can pay using cash or debit cards, but I recommend using a credit card while you go shopping for grocery. Many credit cards also offer bonus rewards on grocery or related expense which you can redeem for gifts. Some also offer hotel points or airline miles, while some offer straightaway cashback. Our card gives us cashback, you can choose from a variety of cards whichever you want.
Though these cashback rewards are small like 5% of shopping amount depending on the card you use, overtime these rewards become quite significant. For example, you purchase $600 worth of grocery and related purchases each month, so 5% of $600 is just $30 which is very less. But for 12 months this becomes $360, which translates to 60% of a month’s grocery budget.
So, the endpoint is planning is crucial if you don’t want to overspend and save money on groceries. I never liked to plan before going shopping, but once I did that and now I am hooked. The transition is hard but trust me it’s worth the hard time.
2. Save Money At Grocery Store
There are a few tips you should follow to avoid unnecessary spending while at the grocery store.
a. Stick to the list.
I have already talked about the importance of making a list above. As important is making a list, also important is sticking to the list and buying everything on the list. Forgetting something from the list means an extra trip to store to buy that item which usually results in buying several extra items you don’t need. So, sticking and buying everything on the list can really help you save money and time.
b. Shop Alone and use a smaller cart.
Shopping alone is the quickest and most efficient way to shop for groceries. Bringing your kids or spouse can be distracting, increasing the chance you’ll buy something extra and also that you may forget an item on the list. Shopping alone will take less time and also help you to stick to the list and avoid unnecessary purchases.
A smaller cart will limit things you can carry with you, thereby forcing you to limit your purchase and avoid unnecessary buying. This eliminates both financial and Food waste as you will be forced to think whether you really need that item before you place it in the cart.
c. Skip the coupons.
Why? Coupons are great ways to save money if you want a good deal on hygiene and non-perishable items. But the drawback of coupons is they also encourage us to buy prepackaged and unhealthy food that otherwise you would not purchase.
Many people have a high temptation or I say can’t resist the purchase of junk foods, so it’s better to skip the coupons altogether as it will make you spend more than you save.
As we say, quality trumps all. Don’t buy everything from a top brand or bigger brands unless there is really a quality difference which most of the time is not there. You can find the same quality and quantity item in smaller brands as well, which costs less.
This will save a lot of money as you will avoid paying extra money just because of the name of the brand and well-known brands know that people will pay that amount that’s why they keep cost higher.
e. Sign up for Rewards.
Due to fierce competition, many stores have started a rewards program to encourage customer loyalty and make them visit again. You just need to give them your phone number and name to these stores during checkout and it’s free. You’ll earn reward points for your shopping which you can redeem on your next purchase and save money. It is also the easiest way to save extra money.
3. Saving Starts At Home
We have covered saving everywhere from planning to shop at the store, these will save a lot of money. There are some savings which you can realize even without going anywhere, let’s know how:
You can save money by growing some of the produce like some veggies, spices, and fruits which are easy to grow. Though it’s not possible to farm everything due to time as well as space constraint, you can grow some spices or herbs like mint, basil, oregano, etc on windowsill or countertop. Fresh herbs are way more delicious and cheaper grown than buying at the store. You can grow some fruits and vegetables easily at home which will help in saving money.
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b. Stay Away From Ready To Eat.
Ready to Cook or Ready to Eat is not at all good deal. For example, buying chopped veggie/fruit is a lot more expensive than buying whole. Similarly, buying an already stuffed pepper is more expensive than buying beans, cheese, rice, and stuffing pepper by yourself. These foods are made for profit, so you get less food for a high price just for little convenience is not a good deal.
If you are a person who buys a lot of ready to cook food, you better start cooking yourself to realize how much money can you save. Items like juices, beans are better if you make yourself, not only you will save a lot of money but also keep harmful additive and excess salt and sugar away from your body. Buy raw beans, fruits and juice your way to savings.
c. Don’t Throw Away
Many people throw away parts like stems, leaves, stalks, etc? If you are one of them, you are throwing a lot of good and nutritious food in the trash. You can add the stalks in whatever dish you are using florets in, if not then you can use them to make slaw or sauce. There are many fruits and veggies whose peels are perfectly edible like apple and is also a valuable part of the fruit with respect to its nutritional content.
People are more likely to save half a pot of soup or curry when it’s leftover(easy lunch the next day), but what if only a single serving is left. You throw them, right? Don’t throw away, you can use them to make a new dish. There are many cooking shows and blogs that will help you make a new dish using leftovers if you are looking for ideas for making a new dish from leftovers. By minimizing food wastage, you can save quite a lot of money.
You can save a lot of money if you know how to use food properly, so next time don’t throw the leftover rice, instead combine it with some veggies and beans to make veggie fried rice in 5 mins, can be a quick and healthy snack.
4. Explore Around
We live in a Modern Economy and it’s not a good idea to shop from a single store when we have many other options to explore from online to offline retailers, there are so many choices today. Let’s see
a. Buy Online.
How can we miss online shopping for groceries when virtually everything can be purchased online today. You might already be purchasing a lot of things online, why not groceries ? Give it a try. There are many items which are cheaper online than at your local store and you get everything delivered to your doorstep, means savings on gas.
Instead of paying a premium for foods like organic oils at the local store, buy them online and save money as they are usually cheaper online. My go-to place to buy online is obviously Amazon.com, where there are usually great deals and varieties whether you want to buy organic coconut oil, natural vegan peanut butter, or any other grocery item.
Ebates is great for shopping online on Amazon and many other stores because of the extra cashback (there’s nothing to lose, only gains). If you are not on Ebates, don’t miss that extra cash back. They are also giving a $10 sign up bonus on the first purchase of $25 (ain’t that great), which essentially means a 40% discount on top of the cashback Ebates already gives.
b. Check discount grocery stores.
Don’t hesitate to check out discount stores like Save-a-lot, Aldi, and The Dollar Tree. They generally have limited stock but their low prices make it worth the trip. Be careful when you buy at discount stores as not everything is a good value for money at these stores.
These have been our experiences to save money on groceries so far which has saved quite a lot for us (nearly 30-40% reduction in monthly outflow on groceries) and if we discover more we will likely add here. Also, If you have any suggestions on how to save money on grocery shopping, we will be happy to hear it.
If you like these money saving ideas for groceries, do share them!
Now we know you can save money on groceries using these tips, but if there is something you would like to share let us know in the comments below! We’d be glad to hear from you.