Do you often go to the grocery store when the fridge is running low on food, and grab whatever looks appetizing? If the answer is yes, you are not alone.
A lot of people (especially millennials like us) tend to shop this way, and you’ll know as well as I do that it’s the perfect way to spend a lot of cash on things you don’t really need.
With more and more people trying to save money any way they can, whether it’s using coupon sites or money-saving apps, learning how to spend less on such a regular expense is something everyone wants.
The good news is that you can save so much money on your grocery expenses just by planning ahead and following a few simple tricks. In this post, I’ll help you recognize common shopping mistakes and offer some useful advice on how you can save money on your grocery bills.
20 Ways To Save Money On Groceries
- Take Advantage of Apps
- Make Simple Dinners
- Plan Your Meals
- Be Creative With What You Have
- Stay Seasonal
- Compare Different Stores
- Go To Your Local Farmers Marker
- Use the Sales
- BYOB (Bring Your Own Bag)
- Never Shop Hungry
- Never Go Shopping With Your Kids
- Stick To Your List
- Choose Store Brands
- Check Prices When Adding Things To Your Cart
- Compare Prices Per Equivalent Unit
- Round-Up The Price
- Pay With Cash
- Grow Your Own Veggies
- Go Meatless Once In a While
Take Advantage of the Apps
You should always take advantage of coupons, but these days you should also use apps that different grocery shops offer. It might not seem as great as coupons that give you an instant discount, but you can definitely save in the long run.
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Make Simple Dinners
You might see fancy dinner tables on TV complete with starters, main course, and dessert (and when you do, your mouth probably waters). Even though it’s nice to treat your family to an overloaded meal every now and then, it doesn’t have to be that way every day. Your family or friends can enjoy simple meals just as much if you are a bit creative and pour some love into it.
Plan Your Meals
Plan your meals for the week ahead in advance. Make it a habit to plan all meals for the coming week during the weekend. Once you have a list of meals, you can make a list of groceries to make sure you don’t overbuy. You can also set a budget for the week and make sure your meal plan fits in it. It might take some time at first, but you can reuse the plans in the future. Make sure to prepare a bit more for dinner, so you can pack everyone’s lunch from leftovers and save some more.
Be Creative With What You Have
It might look like your cupboards are empty, but if you look closely, you will find that usually, they are not. Get creative with the ingredients you have. It is very easy these days with so many great cooking websites filled with easy recipes available online. Remember that you don’t need to follow them blindly and can always skip or replace an ingredient or two.
Staying seasonal when planning your meals is an excellent way to save money – so do a bit of research and figure out what fruit and vegetables are seasonal at a given time. Sure, you can find broccoli all year round – but the price might be very different. You might also find excellent deals at the end of the season at the farmers’ market.
Compare Different Stores
Once you have your shopping list ready, check out the prices at different stores around you as different products might be considerably cheaper at various grocery stores. With a bit of research, you can work out which shops are the best for which products. Then split your list by shops and start the shopping adventure.
Go To Your Local Farmers’ Market
If you haven’t tried it yet, find a local farmers market for your weekly greens. The prices are usually much better than supermarkets, plus the quality and freshness tends to be unbeatable. Keep in mind that most farmers reduce the price of their produce before closing, so plan your trip just before it is shutting down. The selection might not be as great as in the morning, but the savings will make up for it.
Use the Sales
Most grocery stores have discount cycles. Spend a bit of time to figure it out and work out the times that are best to shop. And no, it is not embarrassing to buy products that are on sale. There is nothing wrong with them, and you will help cut down on food wastage, which is a global problem. Besides, saving money is always a smart move.
BYOB (Bring Your Own Bag)
Always bring your own bag when shopping. Not only will you be helping the environment by reusing your shopping bag, but you can also save money! Some stores might give an extra discount for those who bring their bag, plus some might charge you extra for a shopping bag.
Never Shop Hungry
This is one of the most important rules. Never shop with an empty stomach! You might be surprised how much smaller your bill is when you are completely full when at the shop. You will be able to skip the bakery and sweets section with ease.
Never Go Shopping With Your Kids
Leave all the big spenders at home, be it your kids or your better half. Shopping can be fun with all the family, but more eyes and hands mean more unnecessary expenses. If you enjoy shopping with your family, make it a special occasion rather than a habit.
Stick To Your List
If you see shopping as a cost-management task and not entertainment, you will be able to stick to the list you have prepared much more quickly, and you will avoid all the impulsive purchases. No, it doesn’t matter that you can save $5 on that strawberry cake today. If it’s not on the list, you’re not saving but spending regardless of how steep the discount.
Choose Store Brands
When buying pasta, bread, salt, sugar, or any other basic ingredient, don’t get fooled by colorful labels and big brands. The store brand’s products tend to be just as good as the fancy ones, at a much lower price. A study by NBER showed that 80% of products that chefs buy are of store brands. If they do it, why shouldn’t you?
Check Prices When Adding Things To Your Cart
Get into a habit of checking the price of each item you are placing into your basket. Once you realize how much each thing costs, you might start to rethink your needs. You might be surprised how much small things cost and catch yourself thinking – do I really need this can of soda for $5?
Compare Prices Per Equivalent Unit
Before you decide which pack of pasta to buy, compare the price per ounce rather than packaging. Manufacturers play a lot with the weight and price of their products, just remember that if it looks cheaper, it doesn’t necessarily mean it is. Pay extra attention to packed fruit and vegetables. Loose ones usually cost less, and you can take as much as you need and not more.
Round-Up the Price
Learn to calculate the total when placing groceries in your basket. It is a great trick to round up each price before calculating. Let’s say it is $3.75, count it as $4. With amounts adding up, you’ll get scared and reduce items from your cart. Calculating the total as you go along will also save you from a surprise at the counter.
Pay with Cash
Paying by card is very convenient; it’s much faster – no need to look for the cash and count the coins, and you don’t need to worry about having enough cash, saving on time from running trips to the ATM. However, when paying by card, you don’t feel like you’re spending ‘real’ money. It is much harder to give away cash, your cash, to a stranger at the counter. Work out the estimate of your list and have just enough cash for it.
Learn more: Where Can I Change My Coins for Cash for Free?
Learn to love your freezer. Not only should you freeze leftovers, but it is also a great way to save money on fruit and veg. Freeze them before they go bad and enjoy a soup or a smoothie a few weeks later. You can also find a lot of recipes for frozen meals and save time preparing meals for the coming week during the weekend.
Grow Your Own Veggies
Brush up your gardening skills and grow something yourself. Start with herbs and spices, they grow fast and are easy to take care of. If you have a garden, use it for growing vegetables, such as tomatoes and peas. Not only it is rewarding and calming, but it can also save you a great deal of money.
Go Meatless Once In a While
Meat is expensive, and going meatless has some advantages. You can start with meatless Wednesdays and subsequently try to reduce the consumption of meat slowly. Vegetarian dishes are as delicious and nutritious as those with meat and tend to cost less to make. Once you see how much you can save by not buying meat, you’ll start to appreciate vegetarian dishes even more.
How much do you spend a month on food?
BLS data shows that the average American household spends $7,203 on food a year, $4,049 of which is for food consumed at home. With an average income of $75,000, this adds up to a considerable 10% of the annual income. If you spend more than this amount, you should seriously consider cutting down your food-related expenses.
How much should a family of 2 spend on groceries?
Couples across America spend different amounts on their groceries, depending on the area of residence. On average, people tend to spend around 10% of their income on food with 6% on groceries and another 4% on eating out.
So, How Can I Spend Less Money On Groceries?
It might look like a lot of counting, planning, and research at first, but the investment will yield dividends far greater over time.
After a few months, you will build strong foundations for good shopping habits and will not even remember how it can possibly be done otherwise.
Want more tips on how to save money on food? Check out my post on how to save money when eating out.