Are you looking to save money at the grocery store? Here are five tips for making it happen!
Now more than ever we know how costly it can be to provide for our families. The price of food is an important part of anyone's budget, and the costs continue to climb. Data for the last three years shows that food costs have increased an average of $100 per year, and depending on where you live in the U.S., your costs may already be well above the national average. (So those increases sting extra!)
Fortunately, we've compiled some great tips for saving money at the grocery store. Here are five easy ways to lower your grocery bill:
Plan Your Meals Around Weekly Sale Items
Opt for recipes made from ingredients that are discounted that week. Most grocery store sales begin on Wednesdays. Flyers are available in newspapers on Sundays, and are often included in that huge pile of junk mail that hits your mailbox each week. Fruits and vegetables that are in-season are typically on sale, and will be fresher, tastier, and have higher nutrient content than other produce items.
Your freezer is an essential tool for saving money. Meat and produce can be safely stored in your freezer until you’re ready to use them, as well as items like bread, cheese, and butter. Stock up when they’re at their lowest prices, or during buy one, get one and two-for sales.
Reminder: Just because it’s frozen, doesn’t mean it will last forever! The general rule is to not keep food in the freezer for more than one year. Download this handy Food Storage Chart to keep as a reference.
Shop With a List
After you’ve planned your meals, check to see what ingredients you already have, then make a list for what you need. Having a list ensures you don’t forget anything and can help you stay organized while in the store. (Avoiding doubling back or bouncing around looking for things.)
Avoid impulse buys. It’s okay to splurge on a few luxuries now and then (like that Starbucks by the door…. or Snickers at the end), but these splurges add up quickly. Try to stick to your list.
Stop Paying for Convenience
Look for whole foods. You know that handy area in the store’s produce section with the pre-chopped fruits and veggies? How about those packages of pre-cooked chicken? Anything that’s pre-washed, pre-chopped, pre-cooked, or otherwise pre-packaged costs significantly more than preparing those same foods yourself.
Cook at home and eat out less. Don’t get me wrong – I’m definitely not saying stop eating out entirely. I’m saying eat out less. If you’re new to cooking, it can be hard to come up with new dishes or variations of old favorites. One way to approach this is to let people in your life share their favorite recipes with you. A quick Google search will also allow you to find directions on how to prepare some of your favorite meals!
Don’t Limit Yourself to One Store
Do a little research. Check the base prices at stores in your area and keep an eye on weekly specials. Take advantage of farmer’s markets, too. Exploring your options will save you more than you think!
Earn Extra Savings with Coupons and Membership Clubs
Manufacturer coupons are available online for many common grocery items. Sign up to your store’s loyalty program for store-specific coupons and rewards. You can often combine manufacturer coupons with store coupons for bonus savings; just be sure to check the fine print.
Membership clubs like Costco, Sam’s Club and BJ’s Wholesale are excellent ways to save, but you have to weigh your options, and don’t assume every price is the best. Be sure to check the unit price to make sure you’re getting the best deal on your items!
Tip: To calculate the unit price, divide an item’s price by its quantity.
The Bottom Line
A healthy diet is key to a healthy life, but it can be hard to manage in today’s economy. These tips will help you save money without compromising your health!