Hate it or love it, surviving and thriving in the grocery store is a critical life skill. Sadly, few among us are able to get the most out of our regular visits. The result is overbuying, overspending, and a lot of wasted money.
In truth, nobody is perfect. We all make mistakes. There isn’t always time in the day to clip coupons, or enough pantry space to store $35 worth of discount croutons. Having said that, most of us would do well to spend less on groceries.
Today, we’re going to take a look at some of the easiest, and most effective tricks that anyone can use to save on groceries. Let’s go!
Make a Budget
It’s all but impossible to save money over the long term without first establishing a budget. Grocery budgets put your weekly expenses in perspective, and give you and your family a general target that must be met. The average U.S. household spends about 10% of their total budget on food, for an annual total of $6,602, and a weekly cap of $550.1
The American average may be a great place to start, but personalizing your family’s shopping budget starts by tracking your current spending levels and measuring them up against how much you can afford to spend. Budgets help keep families accountable and can prevent a lot of needless waste.
Buy a Freezer
If you have the cash on hand, investing in a stand-alone chest or upright freezer is a game changer. Freezers make it much easier to stock up on discount meat, store cook-ahead meals, and preserve about to expire vegetables. Increasing the amount of freezer space in your home only enhances these benefits.
Extend the shelf life of cheese, grains, coffee, and meat and increase your ability to buy in bulk with a stand alone freezer of your own. With perfectly serviceable freezers regularly on sale for under $300, it’s a relatively inexpensive way to save on groceries long term.2
Buy a Vacuum Sealer
While we’re on the subject of preservation, getting a vacuum sealer can raise the level of your grocery storage game even more. Vacuum sealed frozen food items are protected against freezer burn, keep much longer, and taste better.3
A freezer full of date labeled, vacuum sealed bags is a great way to maximize that precious freezer space and ensure you’re never letting anything stay frozen for too long.
Eat Before You Shop
You’d think that cutting coupons and freezing leftovers would make the largest difference to your bottom line, but the results of a recent study suggests otherwise.4
Eat before you shop and never visit the grocery store hungry, says the research. Hunger increases a shopper’s risk of impulse buying. Impulse buys aren’t budgeted, and certainly add up over time. So, the best thing you can do before you start shopping is eat a satisfying meal.
Grocery deals aren’t restricted to the weekly flyers. Farm-to-table retailers, farmers markets, and local fundraisers are great ways to stock up on delicious food too. Expand your grocery shopping horizons beyond the store around the corner and take the time to shop around. Who knows? You might discover a hidden gem that offers deep discounts on a few of your grocery favorites.
We’ve all seen the TV shows where conscientious bargain hunters clip coupons for hours on end and save hundreds of dollars. As extreme as those cases are, they do serve as an impressive example of the power of couponing.
Saving money on stuff you don’t need isn’t much of a deal, but subscribing to mailing lists, flipping through flyers, and searching for coupons online can make a difference. So make a habit out of coupon hunting every week and smile as your grocery receipts get shorter.
Use Loyalty Cards
A lot of grocery stores hand out free memberships that track your spending in exchange for loyalty reward points. Those loyalty reward points can then be used for exclusive discounts on products or cash for groceries. There really is no reason to not sign up for a loyalty rewards program at the stores you regularly frequent. So sign up and start earning rewards as soon as you can.
Buy in Bulk
Capitalizing on a great deal by buying in bulk saves you money now and in the future. Especially if what you’re buying is something that you use on a regular basis or can be stored for long stretches of time. Stocking up on discount non-perishables that your family loves is usually a good idea.
Buying in bulk isn’t always the smartest thing to do, though. Some bulk-sized bags can cost more per unit than their smaller counterparts, which is why you should always compare costs. A lack of available cupboard space may prevent you from buying in bulk too. If that’s the case, consider expanding your storage space with more shelving or cupboard organizers.
The tips featured here are far from the only ways to cut down on groceries, but it’s certainly a start. Clipping coupons, shopping around, buying in bulk, and investing in a freezer or a vacuum sealer are all fantastic ways to save. Don’t feel obligated to put each of these tips into practice either! Using just one or two can make a world of difference over time.
Cooking at home, bringing a bag lunch to work or school, and choosing to pick up your food instead of getting it delivered can help cut your overall food costs too. Whatever you do, it’s always a good idea to always be searching online for new and inventive ways to save money on groceries.