Have you ever looked at how much money you actually spend on food every month? Groceries are expensive and you may be surprised when you see the number on paper. It’s easy to overspend at the grocery store when you’re feeding a whole family. In order to save money on groceries, you need to adopt certain shopping tips and habits. Here are 16 easy ways to save on food and keep more money in your wallet.
17 Easy Ways to Save on Food and Slash Your Grocery Budget
When you go to the store with a list in your hand or let’s be real, doing it from memory, how hard is it to stick to just what you need? Your initial plan may be to buy what you need for this week’s meal and nothing more. But all of a sudden you see a new flavour of ice cream that you haven’t tried before, or there’s a sale on chicken so you decide to bulk up and fill your freezer. And suddenly, your cart is full and you’re approaching the checkout counter knowing that you passed your budget limit a long time ago.
Before You Go to the Store
Preparation is key when it comes to saving money on groceries. If you want to set yourself up for success and save on food, you need to prepare and do your homework before you go to the grocery store. There are many easy ways to save on food and here are some of them.
1. Stay Out of the Grocery Store
The easiest way to save money on groceries is, of course, to not even go to the grocery store. Keep the trips to the store to an absolute minimum. Try to do one large shopping trip per month and then only do quick runs for milk and produce every week.
By only going grocery shopping once a month you’ll be forced to plan ahead, which saves you time and money, it keeps the impulse purchases way down, and you’ll save tons of driving time and fuel /gas.
2. Do an Inventory
Go through your fridge, freezer, and pantry once a month and do a full inventory. What do you have and what’s missing? By taking inventory and keeping an updated record of what you need to replace soon, you’re less likely to buy products you don’t need because you’ll always be sure of what’s in the back of your pantry.
3. Use Items that are About to Expire
When you’re taking inventory of your food items, make a record of expiration dates as well. If something is going to expire soon, make a note of it. You can also move the soon-to-expire items to the front of your fridge or pantry to remind yourself to use them first.
Make sure to use your soon-to-expire items before they go bad, and make a commitment to yourself to use them as soon as you can. Use a recipe search engine like Supercook, that allow you to plug in available ingredients to help you come up with ideas for what to cook with the ingredients.
4. Check What’s on Sale
Before you sit down to make a list of what you need to buy, check the supermarket ads or catalogues to see what’s on sale. Don’t consulate the ads after you’ve made your list just to see what more you can add. This will drastically reduce your chances of saving. Instead, structure your list around the ads to take advantage of the best deals on offer.
Some ads are loss leaders, which is when a product is sold at a loss for the store, just so they can attract you and get you in the building. And other ads are full of incredible, timely deals that might just be limited-time offers.
5. Make a Comprehensive List
If you go to the grocery store multiple times per week, you’re more likely to make impulse purchases and your grocery bill will increase significantly. So before you hit the store, make sure your grocery list is comprehensive and save yourself an extra trip to the store.
Every parent lives by lists, so groceries should be no exception. Creating a meal plan for the week is a great way to ensure your list is comprehensive. Don’t forget to plan for breakfast and snacks for the week too. A detailed list will help you navigate the store quickly and efficiently while discouraging expensive impulse buys.
6. Keep a Price Book
The prices for a lot of items fluctuate according to sales cycles and seasonality. You can save a lot of money by tracking these cycles and buying the things you need when it’s at the lowest price possible.
Keep a price book to keep track of these sales cycles.Write down the items you buy on a regular basis and the most expensive items you buy, how much they cost, the size, and the date of the purchase. You can also check the weekly ads to fill out your price book.
After a while of keeping up with your price book, you’ll have a running list of price fluctuations for the items that buy on a regular basis. Some prices may stay the same all the time, others should follow a predictable pricing cycle that you can exploit. Start buying enough of each item at the bottom of the pricing cycle to last you for the entirety of the cycle, and you’ll be sure that you’ll never overpay for a product again.
7. Go to the Store with the Lowest Prices
The prices for groceries like bread, milk, vegetables, and meat can vary dramatically depending on the store. Check out the prices for the items you buy on a weekly basis at all your local grocery stores. Make a list of what each store would charge you for these essential items. Chances are you can save significantly by shopping at a certain grocery store.If that’s the case, make the switch and start doing your weekly grocery shopping there.
8. Meal Plan
When you spend time each week, meal planning, you’ll know what you will be eating and what you need to purchase to make these meals. Write out your purchase list and only buy what is on it. This not only saves you money, but you tend use items that you already have and therefore end up wasting less, by using things before they expire or rot. This gorgeous Menu Planning Binder will allow you to create lovely home-cooked meals by planning in advance and helping you save money in the process.
When You’re at the Store
When you’re doing your weekly grocery shopping, you might feel that you’re set in your ways and are always buying the same items every time. You simply know what your family likes, and when you have young kids you want to play it safe and buy things that you know they like. But if you’re willing to be a little bit flexible in what you buy, there will be lot of room for savings.
9. Look at the Unit Price
Don’t look at the sticker price when you’re shopping for groceries. They can be misleading and don’t necessarily reflect the lowest price for an item. An item with a lower price on the sticker is most often just cheaper in that quantity.
When you’re comparing two similar items, compare the unit price instead. By comparing the unit price that’s most likely listed on the price tag on the shelf, you’ll make sure that you’re getting the most for your dollar.
10. Buy in Bulk
When you’re short on cash, it might seem smartest to buy 4 rolls of toilet paper for $5 rather than 24 rolls for $20. However, buying non-perishable items like rice, pasta, canned goods, and cereal, in bulk will pay for itself over time.
When a bulk item is on sale and you’re sure that you’ll use it, buy as much of it as you can afford and as much as you can fit in your pantry. It’s hard to get started to buy in bulk, but after a while, you will start seeing a significant decrease in your grocery spending.
11. Choose Substitute
Start looking for substitute products to switch over to. Do you really need to buy the store brand soap? Do the cheaper cereals taste as good as the more expensive brand?
Another thing to consider is if you really need to buy pre-sliced or otherwise pre-prepared foods. They are usually more expensive because they carry extra costs from added labor, packaging, and processes. You’re paying extra money for someone else to do the minor work of slicing meat, cheese, or onions on your behalf. Start slicing it yourself and save some easy money.
12. Grow Fresh Herbs
Do you use fresh herbs for cooking? Then you’re probably paying more than you need for it. Instead of buying bundles of herbs at the store, grow your own. It doesn’t cost you more to buy a few pots and seeds than what you’re paying for the herbs at the store, and when you grow your own, you’ll be sure that you’ll never run out of basil ever again.
There are a few shopping habits that actually may be costing you a ton of extra money instead of helping you to save. Work on changing these in-store habits to easily save a few extra bucks every time you go grocery shopping.
13. Don’t Walk Down as Many Aisles
If you explore more of the store than you actually need to, you’ll be more likely to make an impulse purchase that will cut into your savings. Get to know your local grocery store and learn where everything is so you can plan your shopping trip so that you walk down as few aisles as possible.
14. Save Money with apps like Ibotta, Honey and Shopback
There are many different apps and services that will offer you a kickback just for taking a picture of your receipt. The Ibotta app is easy to use and allows you to save money on groceries at over 300 retailers (like Walmart and Target!). Check the Ibotta app before you’re writing your shopping list to see if there are any cashback items, and when you’re done shopping, you just scan the receipt and get a small cashback.
Honey is an extension that you add to your internet browser. It searches for things like discount codes, cash back options and pops up when you can save money.
Shopback is available for numerous stores. For this one, you get cash back when you shop through the site. They also offer Afterpay for those who use that.
15. Shop Alone
If possible, go grocery shopping by yourself. If you bring your spouse or your children along for your shopping trip, you’re more likely to spend more than you planned.
Your family might not be as dedicated to saving on groceries as you are, and they might talk you into buying more expensive or unnecessary items.
16. Don’t Shop When You’re Hungry
We’re all guilty of doing this, but heading to the market on an empty stomach is a recipe for disaster! Hunger hinders your decision-making capabilities, making poor food choices irresistible and distorting portion sizes. If you go grocery shopping when you’re hungry you’ll buy a few unnecessary items, I guarantee you.
To stop yourself from making impulse purchases driven by hunger, try to shop after a meal. Or at least enjoy a healthy snack, eat a fruit, a mint, or even chew gum beforehand to satisfy you at the moment.
This will hopefully prevent you from being overpowered by the delicious smells from the bakery and stop you from grabbing a last-minute chocolate bar just before the checkout counter. Your wallet and your waistline will thank you!
17. Zone Out
Plug your headphones in and put on your favorite music. Stores play music with slow beats to encourage you to walk more slowly through the aisles and give you more time to browse and make impulse purchases. But when you zone out and listen to your own, upbeat tunes, it can save you from falling into the rhythm of the store and help you save a few dollars for your wallet too.
Hopefully, some of these tips to save money on food have been helpful to you as you feed your own hungry little family!
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