30 Tips to Save Big at the Grocery Store
Food is a necessary expense that is the third-largest bill in a household’s budget. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the average cost of food for a family of four can range from $568 to $1,293 a month. While it can require a lot of will power and preparation to cut a monthly food budget in half by planning and shopping wisely, it is not an impossibility. Using these 30 money-saving tips can help anyone avoid unnecessary grocery store purchases and save hundreds of dollars a year in the process.
Before heading to the grocery store, plan a list of items that are needed by digging through your freezer and pantry every month. This gives you an idea of what is a necessity and what you can skip at the moment allowing for less impulse buying while shopping.
Plan Meals in Advance
If you are taking a trip to the grocery store weekly it gives you the opportunity to think ahead by creating a menu. Sit down and think of dishes that sound appealing and include all the ingredients you need for each dish. Don’t forget to include multiple meals throughout the day.
While planning a menu figure out what ingredients you have already for the menu items. Use whatever ingredients you have before buying the same ingredients for the recipe. If your cooking chili for dinner and already have kidney beans in the pantry, don’t buy more kidney beans for the dish. Also incorporate in your recipes food’s that are going to expire soon.
No Multiple Trips
Save gas, time, and money by only shopping at the grocery store once per week. The less time you spend at a grocery store, the more money you are able to save.
Find your last grocery receipt and look over it to find the most expensive purchases. Circle the items that are of the largest amount and think about if you can substitute that item for a cheaper one. If you typically purchase ground turkey, you can substitute for a ground beef alternative.
Every grocery store is different. Take the items that you buy the most on your shopping list and compare the prices of the items at different stores. Do this to see if you are shopping at the lowest cost store to fit your needs and budget.
You have access to coupons at the tip of your fingertips by downloading and printing them off to take with you to the grocery store. Coupon websites can offer a variety of deals in your area to make sure you’re getting the most for your money.
Hold Out for Lower Prices
Coupons save you lots of money. However, there’s no need to rush out and use them immediately. If you have a coupon for an item you need, wait until that item is discounted to a lower price. Then combine the new discounted price of the item with your coupon ensuring you get the best deal.
Don’t Go to the Store Hungry
When your hungry and everything looks delicious in the grocery store, it’s hard to say no to impulse buying. By eating before or sucking on a mint or hard candy through the store you lessen your impulse to buy extra food you don’t need.
Go to the Supermarket Alone
Going to the grocery store alone can be boring, but it could save you money in the long run. It is estimated that when people group shop, 65 percent of the items in the cart are unplanned and impulse buys.
Bring Your Own Music
Grocery stores tend to play slow beat music. The reason is to that by having a slower pace, shoppers can spend more time in the store to potentially buy up to 29 percent more items. By bringing your own soundtrack that is upbeat, you move at a faster pace to get in and out without impulse buying.
Use a Small Shopping Cart
While a cart is easier to push then carrying a basket, a bigger cart can lead you to buy up to 40% more. Carrying a basket can also cause impulse buying by picking smaller items like candy to fill the basket as a reward. Avoid this by getting a Goldilocks cart or any smaller wheeled cart.
Know the Store Layout
Having a familiarity of the layout of the store allows for less time spent shopping. Less time equals less buying opportunities.
Look High and Low
While looking in the store for items on your list avoid any end caps and middle shelving. The least expensive brands are located on high and low shelves because companies pay grocery stores to place their products at eye level.
Avoid the Cashier
Much of impulse buying is done at the end of a shopping trip while checking out. Items like gum, candy, and soda are placed in cashier isles to encourage impulse buying. Those that use self-checkout avoid last minute purchases because there is less time to wait in line and less impulse purchases around you.
Buy Store Brands
Although name brand items can be appealing, the same item can come at a cheaper price. By shopping generic you are saving money with each purchase while not skipping quality. If your skeptical about generic brands, check the ingredients.
Buy Produce in Season
Eat the produce that’s in season. It will taste better, plus you will pay less for what’s in season compared to out-of-season produce items. This can save you an average of 30 to 50 percent.
Don’t Purchase Pre-cut fruit or Vegetables
Pre-cut food is more expensive because you are paying someone else to do it for you. Purchase the fruit and vegetables unprepared and spend the time to wash it and cut it up yourself.
Grow Your Own Herbs
Herbs can be an expensive grocery store purchase. By growing your own herbs at home, you have fresh herbs year around while saving money at the store by not buying them altogether.
Skip the Deli
Buying deli meat or cheese costs more per pound because someone is slicing it for you. Opt to buy meat or cheese in the designated aisle to save per pound.
Buy Seafood Frozen
If you check the label of seafood at the counter it will sometimes say “previously frozen.” It is the same product you will find already frozen in the freezer section, just at 40% less.
Beware of 10 for $10 Sales
Beware of store sales offering 10 for $10. Often times, the items really aren’t on sale – it is marketed this way to make you think you are getting a deal. Be sure to check the regular ongoing price per item, to ensure you are getting a deal.
Compare Price Per Ounce
Don’t just compare sticker prices, look at the price per ounce or pound to find the best amount of product for the right amount of money.
Buy for 10 Weeks
Grocery stores do sales cycles typically every 8 to 12 weeks. If there’s an item you need and use often, purchase 10 of them when they’re on sale to get through the weeks when the item is back at full price.
Don’t Buy Bottled Water
The average cost of bottled water for one month is $120. Buy reusable water bottles and refill as needed from your faucet for free. If your tap water doesn’t taste that appetizing, purchase a water filter. Typically the filters last a few months, and still will come out as a better purchase than a bottled water.
Save Your Receipts
By saving your receipts after every shopping trip, the receipt can be photographed and downloaded to cash-back apps. Many apps offer cash-back deals weekly to take advantage of the savings.
Shop With a Calculator
One key item that can help keep your grocery budget on track is a calculator. Whether you bring a handheld calculator from home or pull up the calculator app on your smartphone, by keeping track of the cost as you add items in your cart – it can help you stay on track. If you go over the amount that you wish to spend, you can edit your cart before you get to the cash register to check out.
Buy Only Grocery Type Items
Most often items like detergents, over the counter medicines, candles, books, etc. – are not going to be cheaper at the supermarket. A department store or wholesale club often has a better deal on these types of items, just be sure to price compare.
Get a Rewards Credit Card
There are quite a few great credit cards that offer rewards or cash back for shopping at grocery stores. One example would be the Capital One® Savor℠ Card. With the Savor℠ Card, you can earn 2% cash back on groceries, 3% cash back on dining, and 1% cash back on all else. Just make sure to pay your statement in full every month, or the rewards may not be worth it.
Make Sure You Need It or Will Use it
If an item is on sale and you have a coupon for it, don’t purchase unless you really need it. If you don’t need the item, even though you can get it at a discounted rate, you will be just throwing your money away.
There are a lot of different ways that you can save money while at the supermarket. It may take a little preparation, but the end result is worth it!
What is your favorite way to same money at the grocery store?