According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, food is the third-largest expense on a family’s paycheck. The USDA states that an average monthly bill for a family of four is between $568.00-$1,293.00. But even the thriftiest of shoppers have seen an spike in the cost of food.
Whether you’re on a budget, or want to spend your hard earned cash elsewhere (like on a trip) here are my 17 ways to help save money at the grocery store:
1. Create A Grocery List Based On Ads
A habit I started to do in college when money was tight, spend a few minutes each week to scan the coupons and ads. If pork tenderloin is on sale, plan a dinner around that. Not only will this help you save cash, but encourage you to diversify your meal plan.
2. Take Inventory Before Leaving Home
Before you head out the door and to the store, peek into the cabinets you open the most and see what staples are missing. Before I used to do this, I can’t tell you how many times I had to run to the closest convenience store for a can of diced tomatoes, pasta, or shredded cheese, f which you’ll pay a premium price at a small shop.
3. Use A Smaller Cart
Not only is it easier to maneuver in clogged aisles, but you’ll buy up to 40% less, according to Today.com.
4. Buy The Whole Cow
Well, not the whole cow, but at least a T-Bone Steak. You’ll get a tender filet on one side and New York Strip on the other, and spend up to $5 less per pound than on a filet alone.
5. Swap For Cheaper Alternatives
Time.com recommends: after grocery shopping each week, scan your receipt. What are the 3 or 4 most expensive items on the list? Next week, try to swap them for a cheaper alternative.
6. Seal Fresh Bread In An Airtight Baggie
It’s a well known fact that air makes bread go stale faster. As soon as you get home, seal your fresh bread and pastries in an air tight baggie to keep it fresher, longer.
7. Read The Sticker Price
My hubby taught me this trick: read the price per ounce or serving (it’s teeny-tiny on the shelf label), not total price that is in larger numbers and bold. Sometimes the bigger “family size” product costs more per ounce than the smaller one.
8. 10 For $10 Isn’t Always A Deal
Sure, 10 for $10 sounds like a great deal – but you don’t always have to buy 10 items to get each for $1.00. Often, the product is already listed at $1.00, so you don’t need to buy 10 to get the deal.
9. Shake Water Off The Veggies
This is a marketing gimmick to make the veggies seem like they need water to stay fresh. For leafy greens that get weighed, be sure to shake off the excess moisture, as that’s added weight on the scale.
10. Take The Path Most Traveled
I do this at the grocery store every week – I stick to the same aisles and don’t stray. You’ll buy what you need, not what you want.
11. Buy What’s In Season
Keep an eye on the fresh produce. If a large storm or unexpected severe weather event wipes out, let’s say, strawberry crops, the price of the luscious red berries could skyrocket. If your family could do without them during premium price periods, do so.
12. Buy Frozen Seafood
If you don’t plan to eat your fish the same night, buy your fish from the frozen section. Reader’s Digest reports it can be up to 40% cheaper than what you could pay at the fresh counter…and it’s the same thing, as most fish there is labeled “pre-frozen” and simply thawed for your convenience.
13. Buy Generic Brands
Try it just once – buy a box of regular cheese-its and buy a box of cheese-bits. Do a blind taste test with your family and see if there’s a huge, noticeable difference. After swapping a few name-brand foods for generic ones, the only difference I see is in my bank account.
14. Scan The Bottom Shelves
The most expensive food items occupy the prime real estate: at eye level. Don’t forget the shelves on the bottom – they often contain cheaper alternatives.
15. Buy Frozen Fruit
Does your family like to make smoothies or put fruit on their yogurt or ice cream? Buy the large package of frozen berries. It may be a bit more upfront, but per-ounce, it’s cheaper than buying fresh. And none of them will go to waste, as you only have to take out what you need.
When making smoothies, I prefer to leave the berries frozen. It makes my drink chilled but not watered down. When I use them on yogurt or ice cream, I just thaw in the microwave on a low power setting, chop up, and then garnish.
16. Buy Yogurt Tubs
Individual servings are more expensive than buying a large tub and spooning out a serving into a reusable tupperware container. Buying a large tub vs/ single servings also saves a lot of room in your fridge. Want to save on calories? Buy the plain (or vanilla) Greek yogurt. Use berries from #15 to make it extra tasty.
17. Leave The Kids (And Husband) At Home
Sorry honey, but every time you come to the store with me, we end up spending more. While I appreciate your enthusiasm to “help” at the grocery store, I’d prefer you help where it’s needed most: unloading the car and doing laundry.