Have you gone to the grocery store with a shortlist of items but ended up with an empty wallet? Grocery shopping may be a little costly. However, homemade meals are the cheapest and healthiest option.
You may not necessarily slice your grocery expenditure in half, but you will surely note a big difference if you follow the tips in this guide. When you consider making efforts to save money on grocery shopping, you should know there are three stages to saving money on groceries.
Many expect to save money while in the store, but it starts with some practices at home and continues long after you have shopped. The stages include how to save money on groceries before you shop, while you shop and after you shop.
Each stage contains vital tips and practices that will influence your expenditure.
How To Save Money On Groceries Before You Shop
You need to do a little planning if you want to start saving money before you go grocery shopping.
1. Organize Your Kitchen
The first step to saving money on groceries is to organize your kitchen. When is the last time you organize your kitchen? Do you assume what is available in your pantry and what is not? To organize every item in your kitchen may be your least favorite task but it is worth the bucks.
How Does Organizing Your Kitchen Help You Save?
- You may discover ingredients and food that could last a few more days. This will make grocery shopping unnecessary at the time.
- You will be able to discover what you already have in your kitchen and what you need to buy. You will have an easier time making a grocery list.
- You will save time when you arrange your groceries after shopping. Furthermore, an organized kitchen will be useful in executing other tips efficiently.
2. Use up All the Ingredients You Have
Did you know you and other families in America tend to throw out 25% of the food and drinks you buy? The National Resources Defense Council backs the fact and estimates that for a household of four, you incur losses between $1350 and $2275 annually for of food and drinks you throw out.
An organized kitchen will help you to know the foods that are about to expire and save you these losses. Moreover, you may rely on online platforms to help you come up with incredible recipes for these foods.
You need to upload your ingredients to generate a recipe. A good example is Supercook.com.
3. Eat Before Shopping
You may have come across this piece of advice. Maybe you thought you could hold off your hunger while grocery shopping. However, there is a study to prove that you will spend more if you go grocery shopping hungry.
The hunger hormone called ghrelin will influence your brain’s reward system. Your brain will make you crave calories or immediate rewards as opposed to the long term rewards of saving money during grocery shopping.
Even if you may resist the box of cookies, other groceries not on your shopping list could attract your attention. Shopping on a full stomach will help you resist making impulse purchases.
4. Plan Your Meals
Do you have a meal plan? Some may find it to be time-consuming, tedious or even annoying to create meal plans. I can confirm it may be a bit challenging to compose new healthy meals for the week.
However, the $5 meal plan can save the day. You can subscribe to the meal plan for a monthly fee of just $5. You will receive customizable meal plans and grocery lists every week. The plan provides cost-effective meal plans as the meals will cost $2 for every person.
You will get to save time you use for meal plans and grocery lists. You will also save a lot of money on groceries. Moreover, you start the $5 Meal plan with a free 2-week trial.
5. Make a Shopping List
You may have a good memory, but it is more important to make a list. Shopping without a list will make you wander around the store hoping to find what you need. In the end, you will end up purchasing things you do not need, wasting time, forgetting a few items and overspending.
Look through your organized kitchen to create a grocery list. Alternatively, you could rely on the $5 Meal Plan for grocery lists. Make sure you counter-check your list before you head out.
It is essential that you follow the list to the latter. Avoid shopping outside the list (unless it is very necessary) as you will end up overspending.
6. Look for Offers and Add Them Up
Use your grocery list to guide you as you look for offers. Offers will help you to save more money. An excellent place to start is to look up apps that will pay you to grocery shop.
Alternatively, you can look up offers and decide on your grocery list. For example, you can come up with a list of ingredients based on the offers and upload the ingredients to get your $5Meal Plan grocery list.
How To Save Money On Groceries While You Shop
7. Shop Alone
Be the lone ranger when it comes to grocery shopping. I know, it is less fun shopping without your spouse or kids. However, you should go alone if you intend to save money when grocery shopping.
Kids especially will desire items that may not be on your grocery list. They could even say they are hungry to get the ice cream. Your spouse could also easily convince you to buy something outside your shopping list.
8. Use Cash
Leave your credit and debit cards at home when you go grocery shopping. Studies prove that you are more likely to exceed your budget if you bring your credit card or debit card for grocery shopping.
You are more likely to limit yourself to your shopping list if you carry the $50 you carried. Furthermore, you will focus on purchasing healthy food as you will feel that you will have achieved good value for your cash.
You can decide how much cash to allocate to grocery shopping if you budget your expenditure. If you don’t have a budget, you should learn how to start a budget. There are simple budget plans you can quickly learn and use effectively. One of the simplest budgeting techniques is The 50/30/20 Rule.
Read more on Simple Budgeting: The 50/30/20 Rule.
9. Use Coupons
Coupons are one of the best methods to save money when grocery shopping. There are two methods of getting coupons. The first is from the store’s physical circular. You will be able to know what offers to pursue if you read it every week.
The second way of getting coupons is from the store’s electronic circulars. Some apps generate electronic circulars for various stores. A good example is BeFrugal which pays you $10 to sign up. Furthermore, it features coupons from over 50,000 stores.
You can look up other apps that generate coupons for a variety of choices.
10. Use a Calculator
A calculator will help you regulate your shopping within the limits of your budget. The heavy graphing calculator you used in high school is not necessary. You can rely on the calculator app on your phone to do the job.
If you have a grocery budget, your calculator app will ensure you shop within its limits, and you will be able to know if your grocery list has a margin of error on cost.
11. Stay Away from Certain Aisles
Did you know that produce and dairy are strategically placed on opposite ends of the store? Thus, you will have to walk through the middle aisles, and you could end up purchasing items you do not need.
You will be able to stick to your grocery list, save time and money if you avoid these aisles and focus on what you came to pick from the store.
12. Buy With the Seasons
Vegetables and fresh fruits should make up a quarter of your grocery list. It may leave a dent in your wallet, but it is good for your health. When produce like fruits and vegetables are in season, it means there are plenty of them, and the stores will sell them at a low price.
Off-season produce is costlier as the stores usually source them from afar. You can purchase the produce that is in season in huge amounts and freeze them for future use — for example, strawberries.
13. Confirm the Expiry Date
Most of us either forget to check or overlook the expiry date. You may get into a situation where you buy things that expire either the next day or in the same week. Grocery stores arrange their items in order of expiry dates.
The items whose expiry date is nearer are placed at the front of the shelf. They place items with expiry dates that are far off at the back of the shelves. If you intend to store an item for long in your pantry or fridge, pick one that is at the back of the shelf.
14. Avoid Brand Temptations
Some famous brands provide quality, while others are just better at marketing. Such brands tend to be expensive. It would be best if you opted for generic products rather than brand names for regulated commodities.
Examples of generic products you should consider include staple food products like corn starch, sugar, and flour. However, in some cases, you will have to accept the cost and purchase a product based on their brand name.
Quality and cost should come into play when you decide between generic vs brand name.
15. Avoid Pre-made Foods
Semi-cooked foods may look very delicious. Furthermore, they help you entertain the thought that you will save time during preparation. That is true, but they come at the expense of your shopping budget.
You will save a lot of money when you purchase the ingredients and prepare it at home. Furthermore, pre-made foods are limited in amount. When you are buying ingredients, you can make more food and even store some in the fridge for later.
You should apply this tip when you buy fruit. Pre-cut fruit will cost you more.
16. Look up and Down the Shelves
Did you know that you will find the more expensive items on the grocery stores in the middle shelves? The store places them on eye-level shelves so that they can quickly capture shoppers’ attention.
You will find cheaper items on the higher and lower shelves.
17. Shop in Bulk
There are foods you can buy in bulk and ones that will go bad if you buy in bulk. Household goods, like toilet paper, cleaning supplies, and toothpaste, will not go bad. Make sure you buy them in bulk to save time and money.
You will be able to know what your kitchen can accommodate in bulk if you organize it and plan your shopping expedition.
18. Price Match
Research and find which grocery stores near you offer a price match program. Price matching means that the store will agree to match a price lower than the one they quoted if you can prove another store sells at a lower price.
Walmart is an excellent example of a store that has the price match program. You can search for evidence from online retailers, or flyers of other stores.
How To Save Money On Groceries After You Shop
19. Scan Your Receipts
You will need your receipts to earn your cashback from apps like Checkout 51. Refer to number 6 to learn more about apps that pay you to shop. You will also need the receipts to account for your expenditure in your budget.
There are many apps that pay you to shop. Here is a list of Top 10 Apps That Pay You To Shop.
20. Store the Food Properly
You will want the food to have the promised shelf life. Food could end up going bad if you fail to store it properly. You will make losses if your food goes bad before you can prepare it.
21. Look out for Price Dips
Some stores have a price match policy and others have a price dip policy. This means that if you bought something today for $15, and next week it costs $10, they can refund you the amount of price difference. In this case, the price difference is $5.
The most important tip among the tips above is planning. A plan will mainly involve an organized kitchen, a budget, and a grocery list. Planning is a major saving on cost.
Furthermore, if you plan you will be able to get coupons in time, prepare yourself psychologically to use ingredients rather than premade food and prepare to buy in bulk. Remember to avoid the middle aisles and to look at all shelves on an aisle.
On average families spend $2,880 on groceries. This amount is yet to include how much you spend dining out. You can cut that amount by a few hundred or even $1,000 if you follow the tips in this guide.