How to Save on Groceries
For most people, food shopping is a large part of the household budget. In fact, after housing and transportation, trips to the grocery store are often the next-largest expense. This means that, if you’re trying to save money and reduce your monthly budget, looking for ways to save at the grocery store is a good idea.
Of course, you’ll still want to ensure that you’re eating a healthy diet. The tips listed below aren’t focused on cutting out nutrition or healthy foods, just on reducing your budget. Chances are, there are a lot of places to save in your grocery budget while still feeding your family healthy and delicious food.
Shop with a List & Have a Plan
Having a list is key. Before you head to the grocery store, take the time to sit down and write a grocery list. You can do it on a piece of paper or save your list as a note in your phone, whatever works for you.
Shopping with a list will prevent you from buying things that you don’t need. We’ve all been in the situation where we’re at the store and can’t remember whether or not we have apples at home. Most of the time, this results in buying apples “to be safe”, only to return home and discover that you already have a whole bunch in your kitchen. If you shop with a list, you’ll know exactly what you need, so you don’t buy things you already have.
Plus, sticking to a list will help you avoid “impulse buy” items that you don’t really need, but are attracted to in the spur of the moment.
In addition to shopping with a list, having a plan is crucial before you head to the grocery store. This means sitting down and putting together a meal plan for the week. Then, use this plan to figure out what you’ll buy at the store. Shopping in this manner prevents wasting food, which can save you a lot of money.
Plus, you’ll be able to structure your meal plan around what’s on sale that week, which can help you save quite a lot of money. Before you put together your plan, check out the flyers for your local grocery stores. Many of them are available online, making it simple to do. Then, use as many sale items as possible in your weekly meal plan.
Shop in Season & Don’t Aim for “Perfect”
You’ve likely noticed that fruit and vegetable prices vary throughout the year. A good way to save some money is to shop in season. Many fruits and vegetables double in price when they’re not in season, since they need to be imported from far away.
If there is a particular food that you love, but that is only in season part of the year, stock up when prices are low and freeze it. This method works great for berries!
Fruits or vegetables that are undersized, misshapen, discoloured or bruised are often completely edible and frequently taste as good as their better-looking cousins. Several grocery stores mark down the price on “less than perfect” produce because these items are not as popular with many shoppers. Picking up some of these imperfect fruits and vegetables can save you a lot of money and you won’t notice the difference once the food is cut up or cooked.
Use Coupons and Flyers
These days, it’s easier than ever to use coupons. Many stores have coupons available online or through a smart phone app, so you don’t even need to clip them and bring them with you. Using coupons is a great way to save money, especially if the coupons are for items that you would have bought anyway.
You’ll also want to check out store flyers before you go shopping. Most grocery stores offer “loss leaders” each week. These are items that stores sell at low prices to get people into the store, where they’ll hopefully buy a lot of full-price items as well. Take advantage of these sales and stock up, but then avoid the full-price items as much as you can. You can also use flyers to comparison shop and possibly even price match, depending on the store.
Make Your Own
You can save a lot of money by making as much as you can at home. For example, rather than buying sliced meat at the deli, see if you can buy a larger piece at the meat counter and slice it yourself at home. This can save you quite a lot. The same is true for pre-sliced fruits and vegetables. They’re often sold at a premium, so cut them up at home instead and save.
Prepackaged and single serving foods are also often quite expensive. Instead of buying a microwaveable package of pasta with sauce and vegetables, for example, buy the individual ingredients instead and put them together at home. Not only will save you quite a lot of money, but it will also likely be healthier. Plus, you’ll be able to customize the meal to your taste!
Preparing meals at home also saves you a lot of money because it reduces the number of times that you eat out at restaurants.
Shop at the Periphery of the Store
In most grocery stores, fruits, vegetables and meats tend to be placed around the outside of the store while cans, boxes and processed foods are often located in the middle aisles. Passing over the center aisles can save you a lot of money as processed and packaged food is typically much more expensive than fresh fruit, vegetables and meat. Plus, avoiding processed food is generally better for your health as well!
If you try to shop around the periphery of the store as much as possible, you can avoid the temptation (and the expense) of the processed food aisles and save some serious cash.