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Groceries are a huge monthly expense for most of us. It takes a big bite out of your monthly budget. Whether you are shopping just for yourself or for a family of six. Any way you can find to save money on groceries will help your budget and overall finances.
It really doesn’t have to be this way though. The thing is, with a little bit of planning, you can easily save hundreds on groceries every single month.
I have put together some simple strategies on How to Save Hundreds on Groceries. Taking small steps and planning ahead is the key to success. I don’t recommend trying to do all these tips at once.
Try out a handful, then when you have mastered those add in a few new ones and you will see your grocery spending get lower and lower with each new strategy you implement.
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(spoiler alert: no cooking from scratch required)
Grocery Shopping On A Budget
1. Never go shopping without a grocery list
Take inventory of your freezer, fridge, and pantry before you go shopping so you know what you have on hand and what you need to purchase. Make a list or use an app like Out Of Milk to keep track of what you need and stick to your list!
I can’t tell you how many times I used to go grocery shopping and not have a clue what I needed. Then get home and realize that I didn’t need any more pasta because I had six boxes sitting in my pantry. Or forgetting to get the items that we were actually in need of and having to waste time and money running back to the store.
2. Plan your weekly menu around store circulars
Most people plan their weekly meals, then go to the stores and try to find deals. You might purchase some items on sale but will be paying full price for most of them.
When you plan around circulars, you already know that what you are purchasing is on sale. You can easily plan your menu around those items.
3. Keep a price list of items that you buy regularly
Start a price list of items you need regularly. You can record this in a notebook or create a spreadsheet to keep track of items and the lowest prices you can get these for. This way you know when those items are on sale for the lowest possible price so you can stock up and pay full price.
Check out 23 Things That You Should Always Buy In Bulk for more tips.
4. Know your store’s sale cycles
Stores will put items on sale in cycles, it may be every four, six or eight weeks. Once you know how long it will be until the next time items come on sale, you can buy enough to last until it goes back on sale. This way you will never have to pay full price because you are out and need it now.
How To Build a Sensible Stockpile will show you how to save more money buying sale items.
5. Use coupons only on items on your list
You can get coupons in your Sunday paper or print them online from a site like Coupons.com, SmartSource.com or Redplum.com where you only print the ones you need or you can even load them onto your store’s loyalty cards.
6. Get cashback
Get cashback for items you are already planning on purchasing by using couponing apps like SavingStar or Ibotta to save even more. These apps are great because you just need to take a picture of your receipt or load the offer onto your loyalty card.
It’s super easy and your savings can really add up fairly quickly. check out my ten money-saving apps post to see what I use every week to save money.
7. Substitute foods
Substitute expensive food for lower-cost items. Look at your store receipts and determine what items you spend the most on and find a cheaper alternative. Maybe you can swap out the more expensive ground beef for ground turkey. Your family probably wouldn’t even notice when used in casseroles and sauces.
How about buying a generic or store brand version of a product instead of the brand name version. A Lot of these items are made by the same manufacturers, they are just packed differently. The only difference is you are paying for the fancy packaging and advertising of that product.
8. Be wary of advertised prices
Be careful of some advertised prices like by 10 for $10.00, this could sometimes be misleading. Sometimes products are advertised as being on sale if you purchase 10 of an item you will get them for $1.00 each, yet the regular retail price is actually $1.00 each or even less anyway.
Or you might think that you have to buy 10 of that item to get the sale price when you actually don’t have to. You can buy as many or as little as you want and they still will be priced at $1.00 each.
9. Compare the weight prices
Compare the weight prices instead of the price per item. It is a little more difficult to see the weighted price because it not in a big bold number like the unit price.
The weighted price is comparing the amount of product in a package to the price per unit. You really need to take the time to compare this to make sure you are saving. If you just compare the price per item you could be wasting a lot of money.
10. Ask for rain checks
Raincheck, please? If you have sales products on your shopping list and get to the store to find that the shelf is empty, just ask for a rain check. They will give you a slip that guarantees you the sale price once the item is back in stock.
You can also ask the manager if you can purchase another similar item for the same price since they are out of stock on the sale item. Many store managers are very willing to do whatever it takes to keep their customers happy.
11. Learn the layout
Learn the layout of the stores you frequent. The more aisles you walk down, the more likely you are to grab stuff off the shelves that you do not need. It also makes your shopping trips much quicker because you know exactly where to find everything on your list.
Another thing you can do to speed things up if you know the layout of the store, arranges your shopping list in order of where items are located in so you are in and out quickly.
12. Go grocery shopping alone
The more people you bring to the grocery store, especially the kids, the more likely you will end up with more items in your cart that were not on your shopping list.
The best thing to do is to go by yourself and stick only with the items that you have on your shopping list. Plus you will be able to concentrate more on finding the best prices for your money with no interruptions.
13. Don’t go shopping hungry
Go shopping on a full stomach, or at least eat a small snack before you go. When you shop hungry you are more likely to give in to the smells of fresh-baked goods or freshly cooked chicken. Stores strategically place these items right at the entrance of the store to tempt you to buy more.
14. Do it yourself
Do your own slicing and chopping. Prepackaged and single-serve food is a convenience but you pay for it. Instead of buying pre-cut fruit, meat or cheese, buy the whole fruit and cut it up into single servings.
You can buy the block of cheese and slice it yourself. Buying large cuts of meat and cutting it up yourself will save you a ton every year. Make packages to last about a week and freeze the rest.
15. Search high and low
Companies pay to place their products where they can easily be seen like the eye-level shelves and end cap displays, which translated to more expensive products.
You will find them less expensive versions of whatever you are in need of on the higher and lower shelves, not front and center.
16. Buy in season
Buying product when it is in season is much less expensive than buying out of season. When fruit and produce are in season at lower prices, buy enough of these items and freeze them so you will never need to pay top dollar for those items when you need them.
17. Buy in bulk
Buy items that you use all the time in bulk packaging. When you buy the smaller packages you are also paying for the packaging of the products. You can separate the items into smaller packages when you get home and freeze or store the remaining.
Check out my post 23 Items You Should Always Buy In Bulk to save money on things you use all the time.
Remember, the key is taking small manageable steps. Once you have mastered a few, just added in a few more at a time. This way you won’t be overwhelmed and end up back in the same situation you have been in.
Now go make your grocery list, print your coupons and go shopping (alone)!!