Have you ever had a sinking feeling as you watch your local supermarket clerk ringing up the total of your groceries — a number that is far beyond your typical budget? If so, you’re not alone!
Grocery shopping is a fine art. And without some sort of guidance in the form of a grocery shopping list, digital or otherwise, you may often feel tempted to splurge on whatever foods you are craving in addition to the essential items on your list.
While throwing whatever you want into your cart is a great way to keep your minds and sugar cravings satisfied, it’s also a very easy way to make a significant dent in your wallet that may blow far past your weekly budget.
Groceries tend to take up a humungous chunk of the monthly budget with the average US household spending anywhere between $300-500 per month on groceries alone.
Depending on where you shop, what you buy, and the number of people in your household, this figure could rise significantly.
But what if we told you that there are a couple of simple ways you could cut your supermarket bill in half without too much effort?
Here are some of our top tips to save money on groceries.
Make A Grocery Shopping List And Only Buy What You Need
Impulse buys are the enemy of any in-store shopper. Granted, you may get some good deals on items you simply cannot pass up on your way to the check-out area. But in the grand scheme of things you could be wasting a lot of money on purchases you don’t need!
The simple solution? Make a grocery shopping list and firmly stick to it.
While this is much easier said than done, it’ll do wonders for curbing impulsive spending habits! Not only will this make you and your wallet happy but it’ll ensure your fridge, freezer, and pantry is stocked only with foods and products that you need, leading to less food waste.
Feel free to opt for a good old-fashioned pen and paper grocery shopping list. Or, if you’re feeling a little lazy, simply use the notes app on your phone to do the job for you. This will also help you to make comparisons on your food shopping basics.
You might even want to try the cash-only envelope system which allows you to track and control the money you have in each budget category for the month.
By appointing an envelope for groceries along with a strict shopping list, you’ll be able to save some money.
Buy Frozen Vegetables And Fruit Rather Than Fresh
Throwing away food is never a good feeling. But because we live very busy lives it can sometimes be very difficult to find the time to eat or cook fresh produce before it begins to go bad. This is the moment where this tip will come in really handy.
If you’re looking to save some money on the fresh produce section of your grocery list, buying frozen fruit and vegetables might be the best way to go!
Purchasing frozen vegetables and fruit is a budget-friendly alternative to purchasing fresh fruit. It is stored in the freezer which means it’ll last a lot longer in your home.
It’s also far more convenient and will save you from having to re-purchase the same type of fruit or vegetables over and over again.
By doing this, you’re guaranteeing that your healthy produce won’t go off. Plus, they have the same nutritional value as their fresh counterparts so you’re not missing out on anything!
If you prefer the taste of fresh vegetables but always find yourself running out of time to eat them before they start to go all funny, you could even cut them up and freeze them. Make sure you use a quality freezer container to do so.
Cut Down On Cleaning Products
A grocery shopping list consists of far more than just food items! These non-food items can quickly mount up and could severely impact your weekly shopping total.
Fortunately, there’s a simple way to cut these costs: stop buying them! Well, at least stop purchasing them in excess, anyway.
Unlike food items, cleaning products do not need to be replaced as often.
Sure you need to make sure you’ve got disinfectant, cloths, dish soap, and other cleaning supplies to keep your surfaces sparkling clean, but it’s not necessarily something you need to think about every time you write a shopping list.
You can even make sustainable financial changes to reduce the cost. For example, the cost of paper towels or kitchen rolls can quickly begin to add up. One way of getting around this would be to replace this product entirely with rags or hand towels.
You might even want to consider making your own cleaner using everyday kitchen ingredients like vinegar and baking soda.
Not only will it work out to be cheaper in the long run but rags are generally much more absorbent than paper towels. This will help you to do a much better job of cleaning.
Shop Offers, Bogofs, And Sales Smartly
Maybe this is the most obvious way to save money but shopping around for offers and sales should be your first consideration! From minor discounts to seasonal half-price sales, there are plenty of opportunities for you to
Some stores will offer buy-one-get-one-free deals on your favorite food and non-food items such as dishwater tablets or laundry detergent so it’s a good idea to keep an eye out for these deals.
You also need to be flexible with the brands that you buy from. While there’s nothing wrong with sticking to a name brand, you may find that the cheaper alternatives are just as good in terms of product quality!
This means you’ll still get the item you need but will be paying less for the privilege.
What’s not to love?
One warning on discounted offers: you have to make sure that you are not tempted by discounts or deals on items you usually wouldn’t buy.
We all indeed love a good bargain. But you likely won’t get around to properly eating or using any of these things so it’s best just to save your money!
Meal Plan Around Your Shopping List
Meal planning is a great way to save time, control your portions, and enjoy a wider variety of deliciously healthy foods.
But that’s not all! Meal planning around core ingredients on your grocery list is an efficient way to also save some money on groceries!
The first thing you must do is sit down and make a list of your favorite meals or the meals that you’re happy to cook each week. Once you’ve got a definitive list you can then decipher all of the ingredients that you’ll need to add to your shopping list.
For instance, your monthly meals may revolve around the following ingredients:
- A zingy tomato sauce
- Short-crust pastry
- Frozen vegetables
- Mashed potato
The great thing about many of these ingredients is that they can be kept in the pantry for long periods or can be bulk prepared and then frozen to be later added into quick and easy meals.
Make sure all of the ingredients you choose will be used in any of your recipes and won’t easily go bad.
Never Shop When Hungry
Thinking about skipping lunch so you can go grocery shopping? Think again!
If you’re worried about spending too much money then shopping while hungry is a terrible idea. During these times, you’re far more likely to pick up lots of your favorite treats which may result in you spending a lot more money than initially planned!
The key is trying to shift your focus toward the items on your shopping list instead of listening to any of your cravings.
If your blood sugar levels are low you’ll be craving a lot more sugar than you may typically eat, and might find yourself making poorer nutritional choices based on your temporary cravings.
Making sure your blood sugar levels are nice and balanced is a key way of saving your much-needed money.
But we get that it can be pretty difficult to make sure your blood sugar levels are up if you’re in a bit of a rush or are simply stopping into a store after a long shift.
You don’t need to have a full meal to keep your hunger at bay while doing your shopping. You could supplement your hunger with snacks including nuts, sliced fruit, or even a granola bar!
Set Yourself A Budget
There are many ways to stretch your finances to comfortably cover the food that you love. One of the most simple ways to do this is to set and stick to a budget for each food shop that you do.
This will keep you in control and will also help you to keep track of everything you are spending.
Taking the time to itemize exactly what you need will help to focus your mind. It’ll also help you to make some clever price comparisons so you know you’re getting the best possible deal for your shop.
You may track your income monthly and subsequently track your grocery bills monthly, too. But it’s completely fine if you opt to track weekly instead which gives you a more realistic and flexible budget.
The key to setting yourself a budget is to consider your monthly income but plan out the spending on food per week.
Noting down the types of food that you will eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and their prices will help you to shop accordingly and create a realistic budget to stick to.
Sign Up For The Loyalty Program
Many grocery stores offer loyalty programs for shoppers that are completely free to join. All you need to do is sign up using some of your personal information and then you’ll have access to many member-only benefits and discounts at checkout.
With loyalty programs, a shopper will typically earn points every time they spend money either in-person or online. These points can then be put towards making purchases at that supermarket and bringing the total bill down significantly.
Some of the deals included in a loyalty program may be personalized to you which means you’ll be getting the best possible value deals.
However, the total amount that you could save via a loyalty program for a specific grocery store depends on your shopping habits. The more loyal you are to a specific business, the more rewards you will receive.
Though this is true, it’s advised that you still do your research about the items on your grocery list before you even leave your home so you can make the best possible value decisions about the items that are on sale.
Do clipping coupons save you money, we hear you ask? The short answer: yes!
Once you have signed yourself up for the loyalty program in your favorite grocery store, there are more ways you can maximize your savings! One of the most important things you can do is clip coupons for extra money off at the checkout.
Clipping coupons truly is worth your time if you enjoy saving as much as possible on your monthly grocery budget. However, you have to know how to work it to your advantage to see the financial benefit.
Keep an eye out for your mail and sift through the pages in the circular for the deals that matter the most to you. Make sure to cut out any relevant coupons and then save them for the next time you go to the grocery store.
However, you don’t necessarily have to use your scissors to clip coupons and save money on groceries. This is because there are multiple apps out there that are fully capable of clipping coupons on your behalf.
To benefit from clipping coupons, the key is to plan. Keep track of all of the coupons you have in your hand or electronically and then compare them to sale prices. Feel free to use these coupons when the item is on sale for additional savings!
Compare Prices Between Stores
Sometimes the simplest way of saving money on groceries is to not have loyalties to a single store.
This allows you to compare prices on your most coveted items to find a better deal or even find products priced at a much better value than the ones you usually purchase.
If you are a dedicated shopper in a specific store but find that another store offers comparatively better value deals for the items you are looking for, you may find it difficult to make the switch due to your loyalty.
But you don’t need to worry! We’re here to reassure you that it is completely okay to change over if that is the best way you’ve found to save a little bit of money on groceries!
If you live near multiple grocery stores then it might also be a good idea to take yourself out to carry out some shopping in a few of them and then compare the prices. This will give you the chance to learn which stores have the items you need for the lowest price.
Depending on your findings, you will also want to consider shopping at multiple stores to fully optimize your savings.
Buy Generic Brands
Yet if you can’t force yourself to change where you shop, you can try changing the items that you put into your shopping cart. Making the switch to generic brands is one of the most effortless ways to save money on groceries.
Saving money does not always mean purchasing the cheapest product. But there are some instances where your usual product can easily be substituted for a cheaper alternative – all without losing the quality.
This may not apply when it comes to beverages like juice or milk. This is because many store brands are produced by the same company as the branded name and are sold as generic.
This simply means that for the most part generic brands are as equally delicious and still relatively low in cost. As a result, you might not even notice the difference between some of the branded and generic products!
Of course, the packaging may be lacking in color compared to a named brand product, but if it saves you a little bit of extra money, what’s not to love?
Without the need of clipping coupons, purchasing a generic store brand instead of a named brand could save you upwards of 30% of the total value of your groceries!
Get To Know The Food Prices
Maybe this is stating the obvious, but food prices have a huge influence on a shopper’s decision about which foods they choose to eat.
We’re far more likely to reach for the cheaper food item on the shelf in our local store instead of the more expensive (and generally much healthier) fresh produce on offer.
But by taking the time to familiarize yourself with the prices of your favorite foods or at least your most frequently purchased foods, you’ll find that your trip to the grocery store is much quicker and cheaper than it could otherwise be.
You’ll also be far less tempted to splurge on new items. You can begin by writing down all of the regular prices you pay for the foods you buy the most often.
You can then venture into multiple grocery stores near to where you live and note down the prices of the same items in their store, taking into account any price changes.
Making a note of these types of repeat purchases will help you to work out whether you are getting the best deal possible in your current store.
You can then make any necessary amendments to your regular shopping list to save you some money in the long run.
Check Out The “Reduced” Section
Whatever the time of day, you can never go wrong with checking out the reduced section in your local store!
Just because it’s not ‘fresh’ doesn’t mean food in the reduced section isn’t as good to eat as the fresh produce!
Plus, buying from this section of the store helps to prevent food waste as you’re buying the items that would otherwise have been thrown away at the end of trading hours.
Thrifty shoppers can save money on anything from meat and cheese to delicious fresh vegetables and fruit.
Reduced section vegetables are an excellent addition to stews, soups, and casserole dishes, and ripe bananas are great for making banana bread, muffins, or for additional flavor in a smoothie.
Depending on the store, you may also find that other items like toilet paper, facial tissues, laundry soap, and dish soap are included in the reduced section too.
This could be a brilliant opportunity to stock up on some household essentials while they are so low-priced.
Shopping in the reduced section can be a great way of stretching your money when it comes to buying your groceries.
Buy From The Bulk Bins
Bulk bins can be a fantastic resource to locate a variety of delicious foods that are cheap and have less packaging than boxed or pre-bagged items.
They’re usually cheaper as you don’t have to pay for the marketing expenses or the packaging that typically goes into a packaged and branded product.
Bulk bins are also excellent for finding ingredients that can be used to add needed flavor to a dish. For example, this may include whole grains, rice, spices, pasta, herbs, and flour.
Whatever you choose to buy, it’s important that you only spend what you need to so you can save money.
If one of your household staples is on sale then try to stock up while it’s at the lower price. A sales cycle lasts between 6 and 8 weeks on average so you should aim to purchase enough to last throughout this time frame.
This will prevent you from paying full price later on. Another thing you must consider when bulk buying is the available space you have at home.
This means you’re not overspending on your favorite products while guaranteeing that you’ll have the time to use up everything you purchase.
Grow Your Own Where You Can
Ever wanted to get your green thumb on and save some money? This might be the perfect excuse for you to do so!
If you have the time and the space, growing your vegetables and herbs in the summer months may be an efficient way of saving some money on groceries. With the right care and attention from you and the sun, growing your food is as simple as breathing.
Growing food where you can at home means you can grow a variety of healthy meal staples like lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, radishes, spinach, and other delightful meal-worthy vegetables.
Delicious, healthy, and budget-friendly foods all at your fingertips?
Sounds delicious! The price of a pack of seeds is about equivalent to what you’d pay for a single piece of fruit or a vegetable in the store, meaning that you could potentially save quite a bit of money by growing your foods at home.
It may not seem like much at a time but over a year this amount could quickly begin to add up!
Walking into your greenhouse or a specific patch of land and then harvesting the produce you have grown can also be a rewarding experience felt almost at a primal level.
Download Some Cash Back Apps
There are many rebate apps available that will give you some cash back for buying groceries. Essentially, you could receive a financial award for buying your favorite foods. Now that is convenient!
These services will typically only require you to register (for free) with them to begin saving money on top of credit card rewards and loyalty benefits.
Depending on the application that you choose to use, you might also need to link your store loyalty card or even submit a receipt to receive your rebate.
With these apps, you don’t need to search through online databases or newspapers to find a great discount. In theory, these applications should have all of this information ready for you to access at the touch of a button.
Unfortunately, they may not always be as straightforward as this.
Unlike when you use a regular cashback website to shop by clicking through and finding a relevant discount code, a supermarket cashback app will generally require you to buy the goods before you can receive any money.
Check Unit Prices
For the best of the best type bargains, you must know how to check your unit prices! Paying attention to this figure is one of the most basic ways of learning to save some money on groceries.
If you’re a little lost at what this means, don’t worry. We’ve got you covered!
Unit pricing is a term used to describe the act of pricing goods to find out the cost of the unit per measure. This includes ounces, quarts, and pounds.
Finding this figure enables customers to discover the best buy product available and then allows further comparisons to see whether there are advantages to purchasing the item in bulk or simply switching brands altogether.
In layman’s terms, it’s a great way of helping you to decide on which brand you want to buy by comparing the value of different products being sold.
For example, to find the unit price of 12 ounces of soup that costs $2.40 to purchase, you’d have to divide the cost of the soup by 12 ounces. This would result in a unit price of $0.20 per ounce of soup.
Make Sure To Check Your Receipt For Wrong Prices
Human or machine, mistakes will sometimes be made. But in the case of your groceries, a single error could wind up costing you a lot of money!
A receipt provides proof of purchase and also allows you to keep track of exactly where your money is going and is an excellent tool for keeping you fully on track.
If you are scanning your receipt and notice an error after purchasing your shopping, immediately take it back to the customer service desk and inform them of the mistake.
If you have been overcharged then these individuals will do their best to ensure you get your money back promptly.
If you don’t resolve this problem then you’ll be in a strange position where more money has been taken out of your account than is truly necessary. This makes it imperative that you quickly nip any problems in the bud as quickly as possible.
Some grocery stores go above and beyond when it comes to resolving a pricing problem.
If you’ve picked up an item that rings up at the complete wrong price then some stores may either give you a discount on the item or might give it to you free of charge for the trouble. However, this depends on the rules of the retailer.
Now you’ve read this article it’s pretty clear that you can save some money on groceries as long as you are willing to be strict with yourself.
We aren’t saying you can’t be tempted by your favorite sweet treats if the offer truly is too good to pass up, but if you’re serious about wanting to save money, it’s best to write a list and stick religiously to its contents.
Whether you’re taking advantage of loyalty programs and offers or are taking the time to check out the foods on offer in the “reduced” section of your favorite store.
There are many simple changes you can make to save some money the next time you step foot inside of a supermarket.
You may not think saving a couple of dollars per purchase amounts to very much but you’d be surprised how much this truly is after a year of mindful grocery shopping!