Every month, your grocery bill seems to grow, and it is sometimes difficult to understand where the money goes. If you need to be careful with your budget, it is important to know how to save money on groceries.
First and foremost, it is essential to understand that the sole purpose of any grocery store is to encourage people to spend more than they intended. They do this by various means, and if you are already hungry when entering their store, the chances are you will definitely spend more.
For example, the bakery section is quite often placed in an area where the delicious smells will entice you over to them, and grocery savings will go out of the window!
Be wary of “buy level”
Shelves are stacked in such a way as to attract you, and your children, at eye level or “buy level” as retailers call it. The cheaper items of the same product have to be searched for in a less obvious place. However, if you want to save money on food, then look for the cheaper versions of certain foods, and you will be surprised how little, if any, difference there is in the taste or nutritional value.
Start with a list
The best way to save money when buying groceries is to make a list before you leave the house and make a determined effort to keep to that list. By doing a weekly shop instead of constantly ‘popping in’ to a store for something, you will almost definitely save money. In addition, this will help in better planning meals, and planning meals has been shown to offer savings.
Sometimes that small item you have forgotten can take you wandering around the store for ages to find, and whilst doing this you are faced with many temptations. So making a determined effort to shop once will help you to avoid extra spending.
Don’t use a basket
Studies have proven that people are more prone to impulse buy when they are carrying a shopping basket. This is less likely to be true with a cart.
Loyalty card savings really add up. Select the best grocery stories, get to know their programs and show some loyalty!
With the savings buying in bulk can offer, it is a good idea to use that freezer efficiently. Wrap everything tightly to avoid freeze burn and have some type of an inventory system so you know what is in there.
When buying chicken, keep in mind that buying the whole bird will make the cost per pound considerably cheaper.
Many stores offer free coupons for groceries on various items, and these coupons can often save you quite a lot of money. It is worth looking in store and in the store’s magazines to find what offers there are.
Every store has different policies, and it makes a lot of sense to really get to know those of the stores you frequent most. Some of the most important things to know include:
- If they allow coupons to be stacked
- What mobile phone coupons they might offer
- If they double or triple the face value of coupons
- Whether or not they match or accept coupons from other stores
See coupons for various ways of finding great coupon deals, from manufacturer to online coupons. In addition, use them on days when stores are offering double coupons and get twice the value.
Know the location of and policies for final markdowns
Final markdowns can truly offer great savings so every effort should be made to make maximum use of them. Learn how they are marked and where they are usually located. Ask the manager of the store when and how often they make these markdowns.
Use web tools for savings
The internet can also offer grocery savings. For example, action and sites like Craigslist sometimes sell food. GroceryServer.com will match the things you plan to buy with sales and coupons. At the same time, Flyerside.com will send out alerts when things go on sale.
Of course, apps cannot be ignored. There are apps to include Grocery iQ that help you organize grocery lists and find coupons. Check online or see a list of some top grocery apps here.
Apply for store credit cards
When they are used properly, these credit cards frequently offer good rewards as well as convenience. Some of these offer savings on every single purchase so they are certainly worth looking into.
Don’t waste food
Of course, there are moral and other reasons not to waste. Give more thought to proportion size and ways to make use of every bit of food purchases.
One way to do this is periodically clean out the pantry, freezer and fridge. It is easy to forget what exactly you have, and these items tend to sit until they become unusable. Combining cleaning with days or a week of only eating what is already in the house and not buying anything from the grocery story.
Avoid prepaid food
Cooking takes time, but prepaid food is the most expensive and unhealthy. Part of this drive to eat cheaper and healthy food can come by packing lunches rather than eating out.
For best results, team up with others to reduce the cost of the drive and divide of food when the quantity is too much. This will require a little time and organization, but it can offer both savings and more social interaction.
However, whenever buying in quantity, be aware that the bulk price is not always the best. Compute the price per unit since two smaller items might offer more than one big one.
Of course, frequent those farmers markets when they are available.
Do the math
Just because something is offered in bulk does not necessarily make it the best buy, especially if the extra quantity may spoil and go to waste. Always focus on the final unit cost of the product by weight or volume and watch out for “deals” that may be tricks to get you to buy more.
Shop later in the day
Perishable items can often be found for cheap at this time. In addition, look for bread that has been marked down because it is about to expire. The food is still good and so are the prices! Just make sure the food is eaten or preserved in a timely manner.
Grocery savings can be an art, and you will find that eventually you can be quite discerning when it comes to what is the best value for your money. Packaging can be enticing, but it really does not make any difference to the contents. Many generic products are just as good as known name brands and are usually cheaper. Do not be fooled into thinking that you only get the best when paying deal more.
Spend time looking carefully at the items you buy on a weekly basis, compare them with cheaper versions, and you will learn how to save money on groceries and keep spending well within your budget.