Living expenses can add up quickly each month, including housing, healthcare, clothing, food, transportation, and other activity costs. One expense that is hard to cut back on is food. In fact, in the U.S., households spend more than $7,700 per year on groceries and going out, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Breaking the numbers out even further is the U. S. Department of Agriculture. It says that a “thrifty” food plan for a family of four costs $146 each week, a “low cost” food plan is $191 a week, a “moderate cost” plan is $239 every week, and a “liberal plan” falls around $289 a week.
We want to keep our families well-nourished and healthy, of course. But money only goes so far. However, with a little determination and planning, you can cut back on your grocery bill every week. Let’s look at 35 ways to lower your grocery bill.
1) Set a budget
Start by looking at your grocery bills for the past year. Then determine where you can but back to save some money. Once you’ve set a new budget, stick to it each week.
2) Inventory before shopping
Before creating a shopping list, take an inventory of what you currently have so you don’t double or triple up on anything. Make sure to inventory your refrigerator, pantry, and cupboards.
3) Define dinner
While you may enjoy cooking a huge meal for your family, you don’t need to do it every night. Dinner doesn’t always have to be the biggest meal of the day. Sometimes sandwiches or salads will suffice.
4) Don’t shop when hungry
Shopping hungry can lead to a lot of extra groceries in your shopping cart. So it’s best to shop when you’re no hungry or craving anything. You’re grocery bill will thank you!
5) Plan meals
After you’ve taken inventory, it’s time to start meal planning. To cut down on going out to eat, plan meals for each day of the week. Then, just shop for what’s on your meal plan each week.
6) Find deals
When you are planning your shopping list, remember to check your local circulars for deals. You can find circulars at the store, in the mail, or online. Usually, the items listed on the front of the circulars give the biggest discounts.
7) Make a list
Now that you’ve planned your meals and searched for sales, it’s time to make your final shopping list for the week. Using a list to shop from helps you stay on task and avoid impulse buys.
8) Clip coupons
Clipping coupons for items on your grocery list can really help cut costs. While extreme couponing make not be your thing, using a few coupons here and there can still make a different in cutting costs. You can find coupons in the newspaper, online, or from the store shopping aisles.
9) Use cash or low-interest credit card
It’s definitely better to use cash to buy groceries because you won’t accrue any interest, like you would when using a credit card. If you must use a credit card, use one with a low interest rate. Plus, some cards give you loyalty points or a certain percentage of your purchases as cash back.
10) Consider shopping at different stores
Certain grocery stores give better discounts on certain items. So, consider checking pricing at different stores or even looking through the circulars of different stores. You may find a few amazing deals you never knew about.
11) Store loyalty card
Most stores give customers the opportunity to sign up for a loyalty card. And with each trip to the store, along with a swipe of your loyalty card, and you can save money on certain items in the store. Some stores also give points for lower-cost gasoline.
12) Rain checks
Did you know that if there is an advertised deal at the store and they are out when you visit, you can ask for a rain check. Most stores will give you a voucher that allows you to still buy the sold-out item at a later date for the advertised sale price.
13) Grown your own garden
This could be fun and inexpensive. By growing your own vegetable garden, you’ll save a lot of money. You can also start your own herb garden, further extending savings.
14) Use apps to save
Some grocery-rebate apps are free and easy to use. Some apps pay you cash to buy groceries! Check out these apps to start savings: Ibotta, Paribus, Checkout 51, Dosh, coupons.com, and BerryCart.
15) Try generic brands
Name brands tend to cost more than generic store brands. So consider trying out store brands to save money. Sometimes, store-brand products are exactly the same as the name brand except for the packaging.
16) Buy in season
Certain items are more expensive depending on if they are in season or not. For example, oranges costs less during the winter, while berries are less in the summer months.
17) Use your freezer
Some off-season fruits and vegetables might be available in the frozen-food aisle. And you can also freeze discounted meat for later consumption. You can even freeze leftover portions of meat for later.
18) Check sell-by date
To make sure you buy foods that will last the longer, check the sell-by date listed somewhere on the package. This helps reduce waste, as well as save money. Plus, sometimes stores leave expired product on the shelf, which you definitely don’t want to buy.
19) Don’t buy more than you need
Sometimes if a sale price is really good, you might be tempted to buy a lot of that item. However, before doing so, consider if you really need that much. Plus, odds are there will be another sale later on.
20) Cut down on meat
Meat is very expensive, one of the most expensive grocery-store items, so cutting back can help lower costs. Introducing more vegetarian meals to your meal planning will help cut back on meat.
21) Shop online
By shopping online and picking up your items at the store, you won’t be tempted to pick up things you don’t need. You can order exactly what’s on your shopping list and have them delivered to you curbside at the store. Some stores provide this service for free if you order over a certain amount of groceries.
22) Eat leftovers
Instead of throwing away leftovers, save them for another meal. This helps save money, as well as time preparing another meal. Even if you saved just $10 on eating leftovers once a week, that adds up quickly.
23) Shop without the kids
This tip may sound harsh, but your kids can be very influential in convincing you to buy items that aren’t on your shopping list. So do your shopping when they’re at school or on the weekend, if possible.
24) Bring your own shopping bags
Some stores now charge for grocery bags. So, you can save money by bringing your own reusable shopping bags with you each time you shop. Plus, you’ll help the environment!
25) Eat out less
Eating out is usually much more expensive compared to eating at home. If you calculate how much money you spent on eating out last month, you’ll probably be shocked. So, try eating at home more often, and you’re sure to save money.
26) Only hit certain aisles
There’s no need to wander down every single grocery aisle. Doing so makes it easier to grab items not on your grocery list. Instead, just go down the aisles where you’ll find food on your grocery list.
27) Know your “staples”
Know which foods you definitely buy every week. This will help you know the sale items you need the most. For instance, if you buy milk, bread, and cereal every week, put that on your “food staples” list and search for sales for those items in particular.
28) Buy in bulk
Most times, buying in larger portions or in bulk can save money because smaller portions tend to be more expensive. Just make sure the expiration date isn’t before you think you can make use of the food.
29) Have a few back-up recipes
Have a few back-up recipes in the wings in case you need to make a quick run to the store for an impromptu dinner. This way, you’re not winging it, which usually leads to over-shopping and spending more money.
30) Shop at a warehouse store
While you may have a favorite smaller grocery store you like to shop at, prices at those stores tend to be higher compared to a warehouse store, such as Costco. So, maybe it’s time to consider checking out a warehouse store to see if you can save money each week on groceries.
31) Use what you buy
Don’t let food items expire because you never got to use them. A meal plan will definitely help with this. But, it’s best to check expiration dates once a week to make sure they don’t expire.
32) Say “no” to eye-level items
Most times, the most-expensive items in a grocery store are purposefully placed at eye level. So it’s best to just say “no” to items displayed at eye level. You’ll save money if you avoid those items.
33) Avoid checkout displays
Those tantalizing checkout display items can be hard to resist, but you can do it! Most of those items are candy, soda, or other unhealthy foods, like chips, so both your wallet and waistline will thank you!
34) Return “bad” items
If you get home from the store and find “bad” items, return them. For instance, if something has mold on it or an item on the shelf had already expired, take it back for a refund instead of throwing it away.
35) Drink tap water
If you drink bottled water, consider drinking tap water instead. This can save a lot of money in the long run. Of course, make sure your local tap water is safe. To do so, you can contact your local water utility to find out your water quality levels.
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So, whether you want to cut costs or eat healthier, these grocery-shopping tips can help you get started down the right path. And, remember, a little bit of savings here and there can add up quickly. Your wallet will thank you!