A lot of people don’t think about how much they’re spending on groceries, even though it’s a huge part of their monthly expenses. This was me for a long time, until I realized just how much that simple ignorance was costing me.
To that end, I’ve bettered myself. I’ve learned to budget, and how to save on food. I want to share it with you now, so this article is going to detail 18 different ways to lower your grocery bill today!
The main step, the most important one that’s not even included on the list of 18 because it’s this essential, is to sit down and prepare before you go shopping. MAKE A LIST!
- Use a meal plan
Meal plans are fantastic ways to save money, because you plan out your meals for the next few weeks and eliminate the need for additional shopping trips. They also let you know exactly what you need, and thus what you don’t, so you won’t be as easily taken in by things like impulsive buying tactics and grocery store marketing tricks. Bonus? It can also be used to start planning your eating healthier move!
- Make a standard list of what you regularly need
Chances are that you have several items you buy regularly, from cereal to milk and eggs. By developing a standard list of these items, you’ll save yourself a bit of time by already starting the list, and you will reduce your chances of forgetting these items.
- Shop a good, affordable supermarket.
Not all supermarkets are created equal, and several cost significantly more than their competition. Be aware of the most affordable shops in your area, and use them almost exclusively.
- Shop the sales!
Supermarkets are great for having sales on different items each and every week. By taking the time to look through the flyers they already send you, you can often save by planning to take advantage of those deals.
- Buy in season produce
Produce can be frozen for storage. For those who realize this, they can take advantage of in season pricing and save significantly just by buying produce when it’s at its cheapest.
- Shop at the right time of day
This goes to avoiding crowds, and to going on a full stomach (not just before lunch when you’ll be starving and ready to buy everything). It also refers to discount days, perhaps the day before items are restocked, to get the best deals.
- Know what a good price is
Make a mental note every time you get a good deal on a grocery item. Whatever that deal is, you now know it can come up again (and likely will), so you can avoid being fooled by partial discounts on it or minimal coupons.
- Know the unit prices
More and more grocers are posting the per unit grocery prices, never pay for a higher one when you could for a lower. If your grocer doesn’t use it already, try using your own calculator (example 6 pork chops at $6 is $1 per unit).
- Look lower on the shelf.
This might make you laugh at first, but grocery stores often put pricier bargains at eye sight level, and bargains higher or lower. This is counting on the fact of eye level marketing, that you’ll go for what’s convenient rather than what’s worth it.
- Buy what you need
Buying what you need is one of the simplest, but most important, saving strategies. By buying what you need, and only what you need, you avoid waste – both of food and money. This is easier said than done, as our impulses often try to take over, but it’s worth the effort to keep yourself in line – impulse buying can inflate your bill by 30% without even trying!
- Buy no name
Don’t be afraid to go generic, a lot of times it’s the exact same (if you don’t believe me, check out the ingredients lists!). In fact, sometimes when there is a difference, generic brands are a little better. Just be wary of the times where buying generic can cost. For example, using poor quality paper towels will just end up with you buying more, faster, eating up your savings on the generic brand. But toilet paper could be fine. Just be wary to ensure you are getting the best deal. General rules are that food staples, canned produce are going to taste the exact same regardless of brand – but not meat. Meats should always be quality.
- Shop monthly instead of weekly
This can potentially save a lot by buying in bulk, though be aware it does make it harder to take advantage of deals.
- Avoid prepared food items
These may be convenient, but you pay dearly for that convenience. Wherever you can afford to do so, make your food from scratch. This will really save a significant amount of your money, just by using a bit of your time.
- Don’t fear soon expiring meat
This is when the store has to sell the meat by, it will be fine so long as it’s frozen appropriately upon purchase. Bonus? It’s often sold off at significantly lower prices because of its expiration date.
- Always pay attention at the checkout
A lot of people tune out when at the checkout, letting the cashier do the work, but this can be a mistake. Sometimes items don’t ring in at the right price, sometimes coupons don’t scan properly, sometimes mistakes are made – and these mistakes cost only you for not watching. Pay attention and see what happens to your grocery bill!
- Pay with cash only
This forces you to think about exactly how much you’re spending, and can even be a tool to keep yourself within budget (only carrying $100 means you can only get $100 of groceries).
- Shop alone when possible
If you thought your impulse buys were hard to avoid, how much harder is it going to be to convince a young child to control themselves, or escape the store without buying at least one additional item your partner wants? Shopping alone can save, laughable or not.
- Utilize dollar stores as well as grocery stores.
Dollar stores often have great deals on smaller grocery items, like spices. Just be sure you’re actually getting a deal, and not a tinier portion size you’ll have to replace faster anyway.