16 smart steps to save money on groceries
Do you often find yourself wishing for a way to reduce your expenses? With this list of suggestions for saving money at the supermarket, you can expect to save a significant amount on your grocery bill and free up some cash for savings, investment or fun!
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If you plan meals ahead using sale items, keep track of your inventory, use shopping lists, shop for bargains, cook meals ahead, and collect easy frugal recipes, you can save a substantial amount of money. You can cut your grocery bill in half using the following methods!
- Check your household inventory to see what you already have. Keeping a list will help you to reduce waste and eliminate repeated trips to the store.
- Create meal plans based on what you have and loss leader sales. Use the weekly flyers to see what's on sale, buy as many extra sale items as your budget and space allow. This way a major portion of your weekly food budget will be purchased at the lowest possible price.
- Always use shopping lists and meal plans. To create a shopping list, write down the ingredients that you need to make the recipes from your meal plan. Then add any extra items that you need like toiletries, snacks, or pet items. Using a well-organized list will save you both time and money by organizing your purchases, keeping you to a plan and stopping repeat trips and impulse buying.
- Buy in bulk when the unit price is less. This simply means to buy the 64 oz. size at .07 per ounce instead of the 32 oz. size at 11 cents per ounce.
- Use coupons only for purchases that you would get anyway or want to try. Use a coupon organizer to help you easily find and use your coupons. I carry mine with me to the store to check if I can get a cheaper price for the items on my list. Try to only use coupons at stores that double or triple them.
- Never shop hungry. Stores are most crowded after work hours and on the weekends. If you can't shop from about 9 to 5 on weekdays, try shopping after dinner instead of right after work when you are tired, hungry, and the stores are overcrowded.
- Use the store savings cards. In addition to the savings at the register with each swipe, some will entitle you to special coupons and offers. (Forget your card? See if it's listed under your phone number, or ask the clerk if he or she has a spare card they can use for you.)
- Watch cash register tape for errors which are quicker to correct while in line than later. This is easier to do if you have a helper.
- Try store brands and generics. Premium store brands are often similar in quality to name brands. Not sure you can trust them? Many stores have guarantees in case you try something and decide it's horrible.
- Look at top and bottom shelves for the best bargains. Attractive displays, fancy packaging, and convenience foods almost always cost more. Stores often put the most expensive and prettiest packages at eye level.
- Use a price booklet to trace your lowest prices. It will help you to discover sales patterns and good bargains vs too-high prices.
- Cook from scratch as often as possible.
- Vegetarian food is cheaper. Try to have at least one vegetarian meal per week. Stretching meat by cooking casseroles or stir fry is also helpful.
- Iced tea is often cheaper than soda. And, too, hot tea is cheaper than coffee. Drinking water with fancy straws, colored ice cubes or fresh fruit slices makes it more fun for both you and your kids.
- Freezing meals ahead saves money, because you use up what was bought, don't impulse shop and eat out less. For example, make a double batch of Sunday's chili to thaw and reheat after Thursday's soccer game. This is cheaper and healthier than McDonald's drive-thru! You can also cook meals ahead for as much as a month to save you time and money.
- Keep everything in a central location, including meal plans, coupon organizer, shopping lists, price book, and sales flyers. I keep my ongoing inventory list on a whiteboard, and my shopping list on the refrigerator.
Find out more about saving money on food and getting the most out of your meals here!