Ten Tricks To Cut Down On Your Grocery Bill
We all avoid grocery shopping for one reason or another. Sometimes it’s just a boring errand that we’re not excited to spend time on. Other times it’s the dreaded, unexpectedly-high total that arrives at checkout that leaves us wondering “Can that amount possibly be right?”
Grocery shopping should be a positive experience since you’re often saving money versus eating out and hopefully picking up healthier foods, too. The possibilities are limitless for what you can cook and create with the ingredients available.
Here’s how to cut down on your grocery bill so you can enjoy your shopping trip instead of treating it like an expensive chore.
Stick to a List
Going in without a shopping list is like heading into battle without any plan of attack. You’re more likely to buy things you don’t need while forgetting to grab the things you do, which messes up your budget.
The easiest way to combat the feeling of confusion is to keep a regularly-updated shopping list. You can keep a list on your refrigerator, in your pocket, or even on your smart phone. Update your list regularly and as soon as you realize you’ve run out or need something. Or take inventory of your pantry immediately before you leave for the supermarket. This way you won’t be scratching your head to remember if you have a cabinet full of pasta sauce or if you need to pick up more.
Skip Impulse Buys
Grocery stores are designed to get you to buy more stuff, whether you need them or not. Sales are one way that you might be fooled into grabbing extras that you didn’t come in to purchase because it seems like such a good deal.
If it’s not on your list, don’t purchase it! You were prepared to live without that item before you came to the store, so unless it’s an emergency, you’ll do just fine waiting to add it to the list for your next shopping trip.
Keep Perishables in Short Supply
You might feel it’s best to stock up on everything once you’re at the store, especially if you’re only going every couple of weeks. But many perishable foods, like fruits, vegetables, and meats, won’t last. Unless you plan to cook them or freeze them, don’t overdo it, or you’ll be throwing food, and your money, in the trash.
Instead, consider making a couple stops for fresh foods a couple times a week. Everything will taste better, and you can grab foods that you’re actually craving rather than guessing what you’ll feel like eating days ahead of time.
Consider Buying in Bulk for Non-Perishables
If what you’re buying doesn’t expire in less than a month, feel free to stock up with bulk quantities if you know you’ll want a lot of something.
Shopping at stores like Costco are great for this on items like this. Just make sure you’re actually going to eat that giant box of cereal, or it might go to waste sitting in your cabinet.
Comparison Shop in the Aisle
Comparing items based solely on price is an easy mistake to make. With so many options in supermarkets, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the dozens of brands and sizes that many of the products we buy come in.
The actual cost of an item isn’t all that you have to go on. For many items, a unit price is displayed, which tells you how much an item costs per ounce, pound, or other unit of measurement. This makes it easier to compare prices of different-sized items and figure out if you’re getting the best deal.
Don’t forget to compare prices of items above and below eye-level. There’s sometimes better deals that are hidden from obvious view since this shelf space is seen as less valuable to retailers.
If you’re hoping to eat out less, you need to shop for ingredients that make up meals you like, not just random items that you can’t create a recipe with.
If planning out recipes ahead of time overwhelms you, just find two or three meals that you can stick with and whip up easily. Use online recipes for inspiration, and avoid options that have complicated ingredients.
Don’t Shop Hungry
No matter how you have to do it, avoid going on a big shopping trip on an empty stomach. It’s easy to realize that you’ll simply grab up anything when you’re starving. When you’re in the grocery store, there are a lot of things that will make your mouth water!
Wait until after a meal to go out and shop, or take a snack with you for the ride.
There’s no dietary need to eat meat at every meal, and doing so can get very expensive. Instead, consider meals that are vegetarian or can easily leave out the chicken or beef. Some examples include pasta, chili, or homemade pizza. If you’re even a little bit creative, you probably won’t even notice that the meat is missing.
Clip the Coupons
It’s impossible to leave coupons off this list. They can be a great way to save money if you don’t mind spending the extra time to sort through them. Some shoppers make a hobby out of clipping coupons and get huge savings in return.
Sites like Coupon Mom and Coupons.com allow you to print coupons from a computer in addition to the ones still available in the newspaper. But if you’re more picky about what you eat or simply don’t want to spend the time flipping through pages of deals, don’t worry about skipping the coupons.
Keep A Price List
If you’re regularly shopping for a large family, a more advanced strategy is to track prices of what you pay for things. It might be tough to distinguish a good deal from a bad one if your only point of reference is different brands in the same aisle.
If you’re buying certain products often, write down what you usually pay and take a list with you to the store. Knowing the prices ahead of time is an easy way to stay on budget, too.