Knowing how to save money on groceries is a great way to live with a budget in mind. Frugal grocery shopping doesn’t mean you have to starve yourself. I mean, we all have to eat! But there are always ways to shop smart when you are at the grocery store.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Expenditure Survey, an average American family spends $537 per month on food, of which $312 is spent directly on groceries. But the truth is, some of that money can be saved. With most households, food costs are without a doubt one of the most flexible areas.
So, whether its saving money on groceries with coupons or without coupons, shopping smart while at the super market, or perhaps growing part of your own food, it is possible to trim your grocery budget down a little.
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With that said, here are 48 ways to save money on groceries:
1. Track Your Expenses
The key to saving on groceries is to begin tracking your expenses. You can do this by keeping a list of everything you have purchased within a one month period. Once you are able to ascertain exactly how much you are spending per week, you can then make a budget and set goals to ensure that costs are cut and savings made.
2. Make Your Own Bread
You can cut down on the cost of buying bread by making your own bread. There are several other products you can make at home, at much less than what the store is offering them. You can easily make large amounts of popcorn and flavor it with a little nutritional yeast to give it a buttery taste. Try and make your own ice cream, yoghurt or kefir.
3. Buy Frozen
In cases where you are unable to get produce at the market, opt to buy them from the frozen aisle section. Most produce at the frozen section are still as nutritious as those on the fresh foods section, only a lot cheaper.
4. Have a Running Grocery List
This will come in handy especially when something runs out of stock. You will end up spending less at the grocery store if you know exactly what you need to buy and how long it will last before you need to purchase another one. This will stop you from overspending because what is not on the list is not needed.
5. Shop at Discount Grocery Stores
You don’t always have to shop at big super markets. If there is a discount grocery store in your area, (especially those whose main supply comes from other larger chains at a lower price), do your shopping from them. These stores carry a larger variety of items and cater to our more developed palate. You will be able to find foreign cheeses, Brie, Camembert or Gouda on their shelves, at throw away prices.
6. Buy in Bulk
The more you buy, the cheaper it becomes. Therefore, learn to buy in bulk. Be careful on what you buy, because it may end up getting spoilt and going to waste.
7. Cook More Often
Preparing your own meals is a much cheaper option compared to eating at a restaurant. This does not mean that an occasional pizza is out of the question. Learn to plan these into your budget, in order to maximize on your savings.
8. Reuse Left Overs
Don’t throw away your left over meals. Be creative with them. Combine Monday’s Roast and Tuesday’s Casserole and add a little spices to make Wednesday’s stew. Spread out the usage of large portions of meat by cutting them up into smaller chunks and cooking them in different meals.
9. Stop Tossing Food in Trash
Re-use foods often as it is practical to do so. Do not throw it away. Use your chicken carcass to make stock, keep your bacon grease and add left over hambones into your bean stew. When you have completely re-used your food, throw the left over into your compost pit.
10. Cook Large Batches of Food
Cook up large batches of food at a go and store the rest in your refrigerator in single-meal portions. This is a good way to handle spoilage of bulk foods discussed in our previous tip. This will not only save on money but also on time spent cooking the food. When you make a stock pot, refrigerate the remainder. This will be an easy to prepare meal for even the most careless of family members.
11. Don’t Shop When Hungry
Never go to a grocery shop hungry or tired. It will exacerbate the urge to sit down and eat while you are shopping, not to mention you will buy lots of stuff that aren’t necessary but because you are hungry, it looks good!
12. Avoid Impulse Shopping
Do not give into the urge to impulse buy. Always shop only when you should and purchase only those items that appear on your weekly shopping list. In case you feel you need something that strongly, and then put it on your next week’s shopping list.
Ask yourself logical questions before resorting to purchasing one item available in two or more forms. As much as a can of beans (that gives two cups) may be retailing at $.99, a cup of dried beans retailing at $.89 when cooked will give you seven cups of beans. Therefore the dried beans is more economical in more ways than one.
14. Keep a Calculator
When moving through the aisles at your grocery store, you may not be able to retain the unit prices of all the items you are buying. It would be wise to therefore carry a calculator with you and add up all your purchases before you get to the checkout counter, where you will have to return a few items because, wait for it, you are over your budget limit!
15. Just Buy Food
Limit your grocery shopping to food only. Defer everything else-the makeup, cleaning products, and paper goods to the big box stores like Walmart and Target. This will be an important step in tracking your grocery expenses as it will enable you to separate them from your other living costs.
16. Stay Away from Processed Food
Try as much as possible to avoid processed foods. These are items that have more than one food ingredient in them; consider a potato and a bag of potato chips. Also avoid trademarked or branded items. It means you are paying a little extra for that, and undermining your health in the process.
17. Make Less Shopping Trips
Try to make as few shopping trips as possible. The more you visit a grocery store, the more likely it is that you will buy items that you may “remember” you needed to put on your list. Try to reduce the frequency of visiting the store. If you begin to purchase in bulk, you will find that the trips actually begin to become less frequent. You will perfect this when you find yourself going to the store fortnightly or even once every month.
18. Stop Buying Water
Although we trust bottled water, research has shown that some bottled waters are actually of lower quality than your tap water! Your own well is probably purer than most of these branded water. You may opt to invest in a reusable filter instead of buying your water.
19. Don’t Pay for the Water in a Product
In many cases, powdered products cost a lot less than similar products in cans. Buying cartons of fruit juice, canned beans, jello cups, popsicles, cooking stocks and broths is more expensive than getting them in powdered form and adding a little water in the comfort of your home. Even chicken or pork with salt and water additives is more expensive than plain old chicken or pork!
20. Don’t Buy Pre-cut Food
Sharpen you knives and cut your own vegetables. Pre-cut vegetables cost up to six times the price of their uncut counterparts. As much as possible buy your vegetables and mix them at home, instead of purchasing the vegetable medleys.
21. Buy Bagged Produce
When shopping for food stuff, take advantage of the bagged products. They tend to be cheaper than the same items sold loosely. This applies mainly to fruits and vegetables. Try to use them up before they spoil.
22. Use Coupons
Sometimes, coupons may not be the best way to save money. But, in cases where you are unable to avoid the processed foods due to financial constraints, then carry a coupon or two with you. Smart couponing can make you save a ton of much needed money.
23. Opt for Store Cards
Try to shop at stores that offer loyalty cards. Those cards allow you to get discounts on items without having to clip your coupons on it.
24. Buy Store Brands
In case you find an item with a store brand on it, do not ignore it. Nowadays, store brands are of as good quality as the name brands, but at a lower price. In other cases, they are the same, but in different packaging. Some, however will be disappointing, so test each store brand out and pick those that work for you.
25. Don’t Buy Designer Salt
Do not be tricked into buying “designer salts”. When broken down into their finer ingredients, specialty spices are made up of a few spices and lots of salt. Just buy the individual ingredients and mix them to your heart’s content.
26. Shop from Different Stores
If you become familiar wit the grocery stores in your area, you will be able to identify which ones have discounts or better bargains on some specific items. Plan your shopping to take advantage of these bargains. It may consume more time, but you will be able to save on your groceries.
27. Take it Back
When an item you have purchased is spoilt, take it back to the store and carry your receipt as a proof of purchase. Food is way too expensive for you not to get a replacement for something you have paid good money for.
If you keep livestock and have extra milk or eggs, find someone to barter with to be able to get a product that may not be readily available to you.
29. Invest in a New Cookbook
Find other cookbooks that apportion ingredients differently from what you ordinarily eat. For example, oriental dishes will use meat as an accent, with small bits appearing in soups. The pound of meat that feeds four people in the US is used to feed eight in a Latin recipe. It will save on your expenses as well as improve on your health.
30. Don’t Take the Kids
Instead of dragging your children into the grocery store with you, find a park nearby and leave them with a minder. You could also drop them off at the library to avoid the usual unplanned purchases. Honestly, you’re probably better off leaving your spouse at home too. The more people that go shopping with you, the more likely you are going to over- spend.
31. Take Advantage of Good Deals
When you find a great deal on one of your commonly purchased grocery items, forget about waiting until next week to buy it. Just buy it! Save yourself the extra dollars.
32. Use the Produce Scale
Use the produce scale to find out exactly how much of each produce you are buying, guessing does not help.
33. Don’t Always Use Coupons
When faced with an option of buying a fresh produce or a processed product with a coupon, then opt for the fresh produce. In as much as there is a saving to be made, the health bill that will come from your over-indulgence on processed food will eat into all your savings.
34. Always Buy Cold Cuts from the Deli
Instead of buying plastic packaged cold cuts, go directly to the deli or meat market and purchase whole units. Then go home and slice them up yourself. This is cheaper and more environmentally friendly, as less paper waste finds its way into the land fill.
35. Keep an Eye on the Cash Register
While at the checkout counter, watch the cash register and go through your receipt carefully before you leave the store. Sometimes, the cashier makes errors when making entries or an item on sale may not be reflecting on the register. It is estimated that up to $2.5 billion is made from scanning errors annually. Don’t let any of these billions be from you!
36. Stock up on Foods Right After Thanksgiving
Target to do your stocking up after Thanksgiving. This is because there are more coupons available at this time than any other time of the year. You will get turkeys at throw-away prices only one day after thanksgiving, so shop till you will get turkeys at throw-away prices only one day after thanksgiving, so shop till you drop.
37. Shop at Farmer’s Markets
Find out where the nearest farmer’s market is and save a lot of your money on fresh produce. This is important as it helps build your local economy. Buying directly when produce is in season comes in handy as you can preserve and can goods for storage.
38. Avoid the Checkout Counter Displays
When you are at the checkout counter, resist the urge to pick the items displayed there. They are often much more expensive than at other stores, so avoid them at all cost.
39. Get an Extra Fridge or a Freezer
Save up and buy an extra freezer or refrigerator. It will expand your ability to stock up on produce.
For those who live in rural homesteads, try to forage for nuts, berries, mushrooms and some wild fruit or vegetables. These are a good source of nutrients and the forage can be a good time to get some fresh air and soak up the sun during the warmer seasons.
41. Shop at Bigger Stores (Not Always)
Whenever you can, shop at larger stores. Due to their larger volume, they are able to sell produce at a lower price than the smaller stores. Be careful though, because the larger stores have sneaky ways of making you spend more of your precious money in there.
42. Know Your Store
Stores are designed to entice you to shop. They put the milk at the back of the store and the expensive items are placed at eye-level. Loss leaders are used to lure customers in, and of course they will assume that everything else in the store is just as cheap. The basic foodstuff is often placed on the walls while the processed items are on the aisles, so face the wall as much as possible to avoid temptation.
43. Volunteer at Your Local Produce Shop
At the end of the week when they know they have produce that will not last through the weekend, they give it to the staff instead of throwing it away. You can then take them home and preserve them for storage.
44. Keep Away from the Lavish Displays
You will end up paying for the time it took for them to set up that stand, if you’re not careful. Don’t fall for those old marketing gimmicks.
45. Avoid Purchasing Items in Individual Wrapping
Opt for bulk purchasing then go home and repackage them to portions of your liking. Instead of buying pre packed lunchboxes for your kids’ meals, buy in bulk and purchase reusable containers and pack lunches for them.
46. Take Your Lunch with You
If you intend to work out of the home or take a trip, make sure you pack a lunch. That way, you can watch what you are eating and save money while you are at it.
47. Grow Your Own
One of the most efficient ways to cut on your grocery shopping is to grow your own crops. Begin by making a small garden and ensuring that you plant what is in season. Your goal should be to have a bigger garden and grow a wider variety of crops. Learn how to preserve food, for example through canning or refrigeration.
48. Take Advantage of Freebies & Samples
There are many websites that giveaway free stuff . And while you may not always find free food items that you need, these are still great places to get free stuff. Not to mention, many of these sites also provide great coupons that can be sued to buy food.
Hopefully these money saving tips will help you save more on your grocery shopping. Please let us know in the comment section below if you know of any other ways on how to save money on groceries.