15 Clever Ways to Save Money on Your Grocery Bill
Americans still have to deal with uncomfortably high inflation in 2023 despite some relief from the rising cost of necessities like food.
In reality, the cost of home-cooked meals increased by 11.3% in the year leading up to February 2023, according to statistics from the Consumer Price Index. Cereals and baked goods increased by 15.6%, and dairy items by 14.6%, as two of the categories with the biggest price increases.
It may seem hard to maintain a reasonable food budget with the recent increases in the cost of nearly every type of grocery item. With some forethought and ingenuity, though, you can save costs significantly. Here are 15 suggestions for cutting grocery costs.
Plan your meals
When you plan your meals for the week, you are less likely to buy food that you don’t really need. If you go to the shopping store with a plan of what you want to cook for the week, you won’t waste food or spend more than you need to.
To do this, you need to plan what meals and snacks you’ll eat during the week ahead of time. If you make a list and stick to it, you can avoid buying things you don’t need.
Don’t go with your family members
One of the most expensive ways to shop at the food store is to buy things on the spot. If you go shopping with your kids or a partner, you may be more likely to buy something on a whim.
Instead of taking your family with you to the grocery store, add their requested items to your list ahead of time. This way, they’ll still get some of their favorite snacks, but you won’t be tempted to buy extra things.
Shopping on week’s least busy days
Crowds can make it more expensive for you to buy items. When there are a lot of people in a store, it can be hard to take a good look at the options and find the best deals on certain brands or sizes.
It might take a few tries before you figure out when the store is less busy, but once you do, stick with that time.
Buy generic items
There’s no getting around the fact that brand-name items cost more than their generic versions. Even though $2 or $3 may not seem like much, if you save a few dollars on 20 different things, it can add up.
Also, it’s important to know that a lot of generic goods are made in the same factories as your favorite brand-name products. Some generic items are exactly the same as name-brand goods, but they cost less.
Don’t buy personal care items at grocery store
People often buy things for the house at the food store without understanding how much they are paying more than they should. Hygiene items are often cheaper at places like Walmart, Target, or dollar shops.
Stick to the store’s perimeter
Most of the time, the aisles in the middle of the store are where you’ll find processed foods, which tend to be more expensive. On the other hand, you’ll often find fruits, veggies, and other raw foods on the outer walls, which can be cheaper.
If you do most of your shopping around the edges of the store, you’ll probably also plan healthy meals, which is a plus.
“Eye level is buy level” is a saying that can help you avoid things that will cost you more. Because things at eye level are most likely to catch your eye, stores often put more expensive items there.
Use a Shopping Credit Card/Reward Card to pay
There are credit cards that give you cash back or points when you buy groceries. Getting a little bit back from each shopping trip will help make up for the cost of inflation. Most of the time, these cards give between 3% and 6% cash back or other benefits. Some also give back on money spent at restaurants, gas stations, and home improvement shops, among other places.
Use calculator while purchasing
Use your phone or a small calculator to figure out how much your groceries will cost as you walk through the store. This is especially helpful if you are on a low budget.
Keeping track of your total can help you decide if you want to buy something that wasn’t on your list at first.
Sign up for a loyalty scheme at a shopping store
You can sign up for reward programs at a lot of food shops that give you points and coupons. These programs are often built into the store’s app. A lot of places also offer deals to customers who shop there often.
Use the curbside pickup service
If you know you’ll be tempted to spend too much in the store, do your shopping ahead of time on the store’s website or mobile app. You can choose to pick up your order at the curb or have it brought by many shops. Since delivery fees can be expensive, you may find that sidewalk service is a better deal.
Buy in bulk and freeze what you don’t use
Some foods are much cheaper when bought in large quantities. So, when it makes sense, buy a lot and put what you don’t need right away in the freezer. This is true for bread, meat, cheese, and other foods as well.
During certain deals, this can be especially helpful. For example, you might find a deal if you buy two loaves of bread or two bags of cheese. Instead of trying to use it all at once, freeze what you don’t need right away.
Shop when you’re full
This is an old age tip for shopping for groceries. If you go to the food store when you’re hungry, you might spend more than you should. When all you can think about is how hungry you are, you are much more likely to buy a lot of food you don’t need.
Instead, eat something before you go to the store so you won’t be thinking about how hungry you are.
Buy seasonal fruits and vegetables
When food isn’t in season, it costs more than when it is. Learn what fruits and veggies are in season and when, so you can eat them when they’re at their best and cheapest.
Shop large bins
If your shopping store has them, don’t forget to use the extra bins. Bulk bins let you scoop out the exact amount of grains or nuts you need into a bag. If you only buy a small amount, you’re less likely to throw any away.
Check prices at different stores
If you’re lucky enough to live near more than one grocery store, compare costs and goods at each one and shop where you can save the most money. It might not make sense to run all over town to get all of your food, but you could go to a couple of different shops on different days of the week.
How to save money on food
If you keep a weekly budget, you’ll see that when you spend less on food, you have more money to put toward other things, like paying off debt, saving for an emergency, or having fun.
A good way to get yourself to spend less on groceries is to treat yourself for a job well done. This can be as small as going to a fancy coffee shop once in a while or as big as using the money you’ve saved over time to go on a trip.