Young couple loading groceries into the trunk of their car.

Great Tips for Saving Money on Groceries

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How to shop for groceries on a budget

It’s no secret that inflation is seriously diminishing the average American’s household budget. Every month, it seems like our dollars have to stretch further and further and that even simple trips to the grocery store can weigh down our finances.

Still, we’ve got to keep making trips to the market, and families with kids know this better than most. If you’re looking for ways to save money on groceries, read on – we’ll break down ten easy ways to save money on groceries. Try all ten, and you might find that your grocery budget can stretch further than you think!

1. Meal plan with your family

Saving money on groceries starts at home. Each week, take a few minutes to an hour to meal plan with your family. Figure out what you want to eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, what special requests your family members might have, and what everyone agrees on for dessert.

Planning your meals helps to save money since it prevents you from defaulting to potentially expensive frozen prepared meals or ordering in. Plus, it lets you take fewer but larger grocery store trips, so you knock out most of your purchases at once instead of spreading them out over the week.

2. Make a grocery list before you go

Before heading out the door, write down a grocery list of all the items you intend to buy. It’ll save you money each time you visit the supermarket since it prevents impulse purchases. Companies negotiate eye-level placements on grocery store shelves. No matter how tempting something looks as you walk down these strategically situated aisles, don’t buy anything if it’s not on your list.

A couple and their toddler carefully choose red bell peppers.

3. Buy fresh produce and fresh fruits

You might think that buying in-season fresh fruits and veggies is too pricey. But in a lot of cases, the opposite is true.

Say that you want to buy some green beans for an upcoming dinner. You could buy frozen or canned green beans. Or you could buy fresh green beans and cook them in a pot yourself. In many cases, fresh veggies and fruits are cheaper if you buy them in bulk or if you buy them before they’re prepared.

This extends to other foods, too. Shredded cheese, for instance, is usually more expensive than a block of plain cheese that you shred yourself. Prepping your food takes a bit of time out of your day, but it saves you money in the long run.

4. Buy store-brand snacks and packaged food

Brand loyalty isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But it can get you in trouble when you have the option between choosing a big, national-branded item and the store-brand equivalent.

In most cases, a store-brand snack, package of food, or any other item will be anywhere from a few cents to a few dollars cheaper than the big brand item you recognize. Do yourself a favor and look at the ingredients list on the backs of both items; odds are you’ll find that they’re almost identical, if not completely identical.

Want to save money at the grocery store? Buy store-brand sodas, canned foods, and chips instead of name-brand items. The big companies can do without your dollars, anyway.

5. Use coupons to snag good deals

There’s no shame in clipping coupons if you want to save money on groceries AND take advantage of excellent deals. Lots of grocery stores have weekly or monthly coupon booklets you can pick up when you arrive at the store. Scan through it and clip or tear out those that apply to your shopping list.

Look for newspaper ads or value mailers. Grab a pair of scissors and put on a podcast while you clip. Coupons can save you a few bucks here and there or sometimes let you get two items for the price of one. Read each coupon carefully and keep them organized – once you arrive at the cash register, you can present them quickly to the cashier, which will make checkout faster and help you get back to the car in no time.

Alternatively, see if your grocery store has a mobile app (most do, these days). Check out their digital coupons and be on the lookout for advertised discounts. Digital coupons are even easier to scan and apply when you roll your shopping cart up to the register.

6. Choose grocery items that are on sale

Coupons aren’t the only way you can take advantage of in-store grocery shopping deals. You can and should also keep an eye out for items on sale as you browse. For example, if you notice two types of toilet paper side-by-side, but one is currently on sale, it’s a no-brainer to pick up the discounted TP. Take the little financial victories you can and don’t look back!

BOGO deals or buy-one-get-one free discounts are great on items that you use regularly. In some states, BOGO doesn’t mean you actually have to buy two to receive a discount. Instead, each item rings up at half price! (: https://clark.com/shopping-retail/publix-bogo-policy/)

7. Check the “price per unit”

As you shop, remember to pay attention to each item’s “price per unit”. This is usually printed on the price display near the product, not on the product itself.

This is super important when buying meat products, like beef or chicken, buying vegetables in bulk, or considering different size packages of things you need.  If you aren’t careful, you could accidentally ring up a higher price than you mean to.

8. Join your grocery store’s rewards program

Many grocery chains these days have loyalty or rewards programs. Loyalty programs give you special discounts on grocery purchases and some let you earn points as you spend money. Over time, you can redeem those points on discounts for select items, gas rewards, or other perks.

Taking a few minutes to enroll in your favorite grocery store loyalty program is well worth the savings and you can enjoy seeing what you saved on your receipt. Every dollar you save counts especially when you’re buying food for your whole family!

9. Buy a wholesale club membership

Have a large family with lots of hungry mouths to feed? Join a wholesale club.

Although a little pricey for the initial membership cost, wholesale clubs like Costco are perfect for big families since they sell food in bulk. Where else can you get ten discounted bottles of Heinz ketchup for the price of four??

Wholesale clubs can be great since they let you save money on groceries and household items in the long run. When you buy in bulk, you benefit from lower prices for each individual food item you choose. But keep in mind that bulk grocery shopping means you need room for bulk storage. And don’t buy items you can’t possibly use before the expiration date. Consider sharing the bulk purchase with a friend.

Wholesale club memberships are only budget-friendly if you plan to shop there almost exclusively and if you make big grocery trips at least once a month. If you’re only buying food for yourself or one other person, finding discounts at regular grocery stores might be more practical.

10. Bring a bag (or three!)

One last tip – it often pays (literally) for you to bring your own grocery bags to the store. Some stores give you discounts for every bag you bring, while other stores charge you a few cents for paper or plastic bags. (8 Retailers That Reward You for Bringing Your Own Bags! – The Krazy Coupon Lady)

There’s no telling how long this inflation cycle will last. But with the right prep and smart saving strategies, you can use these tips to save money on groceries and to make the most of your grocery budget all while keeping your family fed and satisfied.

The information and materials provided on this website are intended for informational purposes only and should not be treated as an offer or solicitation of credit or any other product or service of Regional Finance or any other company. This website may contain links to websites controlled or offered by third parties. We have not reviewed all of the third-party sites linked to this website and are not responsible for the content, products, privacy policy, security, or practices of any linked third-party website. The inclusion of any third-party link does not imply any endorsement by Regional Finance of the linked third party, its website, or its product or services. Use of any third-party website is at your own risk.

 

Sources accessed 7/13/2022 –

CNBC – 11 Tips for Saving Money at the Grocery Store

Cleveland Clinic – 10 Expert Tips for Grocery Shopping on a Budget

Eat Right – 20 Money-Saving Grocery Shopping Tips

CNBC – Here are 5 tips for grocery shopping on a budget now that prices are going up

 

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