Best ways to save money on groceries
Groceries are a necessity, but they don’t necessarily have to break the bank. Here are our 7 tips to spend less and save money when buying groceries.
1. Establish a budget
Establishing a budget allows you to remind yourself what you can afford to spend on groceries for a certain time period. This time period can be weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, etc.
When utilizing this tip, it is most helpful to write out a specific shopping list and stick to it. Specify your exact needs at the grocery store and only purchase these things. Establishing this specific list can limit spending on superfluous items and impulse purchases that can run up your grocery bill. Setting up a meal plan is a good way to enforce this budget.
When on a budget, it is helpful to grocery shop with your calculator out. This way you know exactly what you are spending at all times. Certain grocery stores even allow you to shop with scanners in hand. This is another good way to know exactly what your total is and when you are exceeding your budget.
Sticking to a firm budget can allow for big savings in the long run as these savings compile over time.
Related: Top free budgeting tools
2. Payment method matters
Although cash and debit are valid payment options, many benefits can come from paying with an appropriate credit card.
A range of credit cards now offer bonus rewards for grocery related spending. Some of these cards provide straight cash back, while others offer airline miles or hotel points.
For example, certain grocery rewards cards offer 2 percent cash back on purchases at grocery stores and wholesale clubs. This is a fantastic way to get rewarded for spending money on groceries: something that you were already going to do.
Whether you prefer cash back or travel rewards, these bonuses can add up over time. They also allow for savings in other areas outside of groceries.
3. Buy generic
Buying generic is one of the simplest ways to save on groceries. Grocery store generic brands are often cheaper than nationally recognized brand name items for the same product.
This does not always mean a drop in quality, either. It is often tempting to buy products based on brand recognition but generic brands can be the same caliber or better. Don’t buy a more expensive item just because you recognize its logo.
Pro Tip: Groceries at eye level often cost more because companies can pay to have them positioned there. Whereas, you can find generic alternatives on lower shelves.
Generic items offer benefits in the form of sales too. Grocers usually offer great deals on these items at discounted unit prices.
4. Shop around for your items
With the abundance of choice in grocery retailers, there is very little reason to shop all in one place. Most of the time, it is possible to reap significant savings by shopping around. It is unlikely that your local grocery store, or nearest location, has the cheapest option for everything you’re looking for.
Be sure to pay attention to the weekly ads that grocery stores release. You may come across sales prices at a different store for something you were already planning to buy. If you go to purchase this item, you may discover the store has even more potential for savings.
Pro Tip: If the store runs out of an advertised special, request a rain check. Rain checks allow you to buy the item at the advertised sale price when the item has been restocked. This holds true even after the sale is over, depending on the rain check expiration date.
You could even consider building meals around the sale items that you find each week. If the sale items are nonperishable goods, it may be beneficial to buy them in bulk and save them for later. This is a good strategy if you are a member of a wholesale club where unit prices are generally cheaper.
5. Grocery Shop Online
Shopping online for groceries is increasing in popularity due to its convenience and potential for savings. Many grocers offer the option to make a list online and pick up the items in the store.
All you have to do is show up and take home your prepared grocery list. This method saves time and money that would be spent on impulse purchases when in-store shopping. This method also gives you the freedom to choose a retailer that may have cheaper prices by default.
Certain online grocers even offer grocery delivery. This can save you money on gas expenses but can be more costly because of the additional service provided. This method does, however, save you the most time which is also a valuable asset. Time is money, after all.
6. Pay attention to how you buy meat
Meat products can be some of the most expensive items on your grocery list. There are, however, ways to avoid overspending on meat. Only buying meat when it’s on sale is a good place to start.
You can also try choosing different cuts of meat. For example, boneless chicken thighs are generally cheaper than chicken breasts. On meat labels, the weight in ounces is usually listed with its associated price. Buying lighter cuts of meat is another way to cut back on grocery spending.
Preparing meatless meals can provide for major savings in your grocery budget. You do not have to completely eliminate meat from your grocery list. However, preparing meals without meat a couple times a week can make a huge difference.
7. Eat leftovers
Who doesn’t love leftovers? Now that you have nailed down your grocery savings tips, take it one step farther. Eating leftovers is the best way to make the most out of your list and money.
If you have food leftover from dinner, eat it for lunch the next day. This is far cheaper and more sustainable than eating out all the time. If you have a large amount of food left over, consider freezing it and saving it for dinner another time.
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