When it comes to monthly expenses, most of us spend a good portion of our money on food. Even if you don’t eat out at restaurants very often and you try to budget during trips to the grocery store, it seems like the food expenses add up quickly. You might be scratching your head wondering where all that money went.
If you’re not splurging on gourmet foods and specialty items, it can seem perplexing why your grocery bill is so high. If you’re looking to cut down on some costs, you might want to start reevaluating how you shop for food and make the appropriate adjustments to help you spend less money.
Here are 13 useful ways to help you save more money at the grocery store.
1. Find Coupons Online and Off
Don’t be afraid to cut out some paper discounts. Read your grocery store’s weekly circular to catch the best deals, and check out sites like coupons.com for even more deals. You can even plan your meals based on these ads. Not sure that will work for your family? At least try it for a week or two, and you may find your family takes to some of the new foods you’ve introduced.
2. Go Generic
Most people stick with name brands because they’re more familiar with them, but generic products are often the same thing with a different label, but at a lower price. This is especially the case for foods that are regulated such as flour and sugar.
3. Shop Once A Week
Make a list before you go, and then pick one day a week to do your shopping. The less time you spend in the grocery store, the less likely you’ll be to impulsively buy items you don’t need.
4. Make Sure You Look Up And Down
Items placed at eye-level on the shelf are usually more expensive, as that’s where we tend to look first. Consider looking at the shelf above or below for similar products that might be a better deal.
5. Don’t Go Hungry
Eat before you go to the grocery store, or you might end up grabbing foods you don’t actually need. Research shows that hungry people end up buying more candy and snacks than people who go to the grocery store with a full tummy.
6. Pay Attention To Price Per Unit
A smaller item will always seem cheaper, but if you use something often, it’s usually worth it to get a bigger size, especially when you pay attention to price per ounce or unit. Check the sticker prices closely to find out what size is a better deal.
7. Avoid Pre-Cut Foods
Do your own slicing and save yourself some money. Pre-shredded cheeses, already-cut fruits, and portioned pieces of chicken usually cost more, as you’re paying for convenience, so spend a little extra time in the kitchen and buy the cheaper, whole options.
8. Eat With The Seasons
Pay attention to what produce is in season locally, and use those foods in your meals. In-season food is more abundant, and thus costs less, while out-of-season produce often comes from farther away, which ends up costing you more.
9. Try Eating Less Meat and Dairy
Meat and dairy both quickly add up. Try instituting one or two nights a week of meat-free and/or dairy-free meals to help keep your grocery bill low. Not only is a plant-based diet good for your health, it’ll save you money.
10. Buy Heads Of Lettuce Instead Of The Pre-Washed Bags
Just like you pay more for pre-cut foods, you end up spending more money on having your lettuce washed and bagged for you. By a fresh head of lettuce for less money (often half the cost), and just wash it on your own at home.
11. Use Self-Checkout
Shoppers end up spending less on impulse purchases when they use the self-checkout line versus a staffed checkout. There is less merchandise around the self-checkout stands, and the wait time is usually much shorter — which means less time staring at candy and magazines.
12. Earn Rebates Easily
Using an app like Ibotta allows you to scan your receipt and get cash back from brands you’ve purchased. How simple is that?
13. Do Your Research
Get familiar with which grocery store generally offers the lowest prices on certain items you’re likely to buy. For example, recent pricing shows you’d be better off buying eggs at Aldi (if there’s one in your area) over Walmart or Target. The same goes for items like trash bags and olive oil. Getting a general sense of the cost of items will help (write it down if you have to!) and paying attention to the price per unit, as previously mentioned, will help you shop smart.