It can seem hard to save money on groceries. These strategies for saving on food can help you maximize your buying power. Use them in combination with meal planning and shopping habits that help you stick to your budget while you’re in the store.
Consider Loyalty Cards
The benefits of a loyalty program range from free food items, to lower food prices on select items, to money off gasoline. If you are a regular shopper at one particular store, a loyalty program can help you save money and access special deals.
Try Bulk Buying
This really goes back to knowing yourself and your resources. For some people, buying in bulk is a great strategy and for others, not so much. Questions to ask yourself may be: Do I have room to store the items? Will I use everything I buy? Can I avoid all the other deals in the store? Just because your neighbor swears by Costco or Sam’s Club doesn’t mean it will work for you. It makes sense to buy staples in bulk, like dried beans, rice, etc. These are things that can be stored for a long period of time. On the other hand, buying the industrial package of shrimp just because it’s a great sale may not make as much sense. Meal planning becomes especially important when you buy in bulk.
Buy Larger Sizes
In general, the larger size is the best deal. Check the unit price. For instance, the microwaveable single portions of vegetables aren’t really that much easier than putting a portion from a larger, less expensive bag of veggies into a dish and cooking it. Look at the unit price to find out if you’re being charged a premium for single serving portions. You might be able to save money (and have less garbage!) by selecting a larger container, and portioning it out yourself.
Look Low on the Shelf
In general, the items on the lowest shelves will be the least expensive. Many items that are of interest to children will be located within reach, so be careful about extra items showing up in your basket.
Skip the Expensive Cereal
Some store brands and generics really are as good as the original. On the same note, some are not. You will want to decide how much a brand-name cereal is worth to you. It’s worth trying the alternative to see if you can tell the difference!
Don’t Shop When You’re Hungry!
If you’re hungry, it will be difficult to keep your shopping confined to your list and your budget. It’s always a good idea to eat before you go to the grocery store. That rotisserie chicken near the produce section smells delicious, but think before you put it into your cart: Is this something I really need or am I just hungry?
Nine times out of ten, you’ll put it back and move along.
Plant a Garden
Growing your own veggies and fruits could be much less expensive than buying. Even if you don’t have a yard, a few containers in the window sill or on a balcony can get you fresh tomatoes or fresh herbs for very little money.
If you’re not the gardening type, consider buying from the farmer’s market, or investigating a CSA share (consumer supported agriculture). Some farmers offer a weekly crate of fresh food that may be less expensive than buying at the store.
Skip the Meat
Meat is often expensive. In general, reducing the amount if meat you eat can make a significant difference in expenses. Try it one day a week as an experiment, and see what you think. (It’s also a great way to build healthy eating habits that include lots of vegetables).
Save Money On Meat Purchases
If you can’t quite give up meat as a mainstay, shop grocery store sales for meat. When your favorite cuts on are sale, you can buy double or triple what you usually would. Freeze what you don’t use immediately, as long as it fits in your budget. Other tips include buying directly from the farm, or buying cheaper cuts and using cooking techniques to turn them into tender, delicious meals.
Shop Elsewhere for Household Items
Check around for prices on items like paper products, toiletries, cleaning supplies and the like. You may be surprised to find out which store has the best prices.
Save on Cleaning Supplies by Going Natural
White vinegar and baking soda are amazing cleaners and very cheap! They can be used to clean toilets, showers, sinks and laundry. A barely damp cloth is a great duster. Avoid anything disposable because it’s expensive and, honestly, unnecessary. Instead, try using old towels or cut up t-shirts for cleaning.