If you’re living alone, you might not necessarily notice how much you are spending on groceries every month. When you walk through the aisles of a grocery store, you simply add items to your cart that catches your fancy or makes your palate tingle at the thought of eating or cooking it. The same thing does not hold true when you’re buying groceries for a family with two, three or more kids.
If you do not watch what you are adding to your shopping cart, you could easily blow your monthly budget on grocery items alone. What will you use to spend on utility bills, the expense for raising the kids, your gas money when driving to the office, etc.? This just goes to show how important it is for everyone to have a plan when buying groceries.
The good news is that there are ways for you to save money on groceries, and even eat healthier in the process. Read on to find out what these methods are.
Primary Ways to Save Money on Groceries
If you think that you need to sacrifice your comfort food or the occasional junk food to munch on when having movie nights in order to save money on groceries, think again. There are perfectly viable ways for you to cut back on grocery shopping expenses, but minus the need to deprive yourself of the pleasure of enjoying your favorite food items.
Here are some of the primary ways on how you can save money on groceries:
Always be on the lookout for discounts
There’s a reality TV show which highlights the extremes that some people go to in order to collect coupons and get almost free grocery items. They get dozens of items that they do not really need from supermarkets simply because they have coupons for it. Although you do not have to take couponing into such extreme levels, you can take a cue from such individuals and realize that you can take advantage of great discounts.
You can also look for ‘buy one, get one free’ deals, doubled coupons, in-store discount cards that qualify you for automatic price slash-offs, and special store coupons. You can even combine a discount card or a coupon with a ‘buy one, get one free’ offer to spend the least amount once your purchases are totaled at the cashier’s.
Stock up on staple items in the kitchen items when they are on sale
Olive oil, cooking oil, dried spices that you frequently use, vinegar, ready-to-cook pasta, baking staples – these are the staple items which are always used in the kitchen. Since these items do not spoil, you can save a lot of money by stocking up on them when they are on sale. Depending on how often you cook, you can purchase staple items in the kitchen that will last you for several months or even a year.
Fresh ingredients like meat, on the other hand, can be bought while they’re on sale – but not stocked inside the fridge for a long time. If you stumbled upon a butcher in your area which offers boneless chicken at discounted rates during a specific day of the week, you can buy two weeks’ worth of supply. This will save you a lot of money in the long run.
In-store brands, generic items and private label products may not be as popular as their frequently advertised counterparts, but they are definitely cheaper. Unlike a few decades back when private label products are not known for their quality, they have definitely improved over time.
What makes these private label items cheaper is the fact that the companies making them do not have to spend a huge amount of money on fancy ads. As such, you are getting exactly what you are paying for, which is a good quality grocery item.
Buy ingredients instead of ready-made meals
Although a microwavable bowl of baked macaroni may sound like a good deal if you are purchasing them cheaply, it is actually better to purchase individual ingredients rather than ready-made meals. Why? Because you are also paying for the convenience of buying ready-made food items.
From the gathering of the ingredients to the prep work, actual cooking and packaging – these steps are paid for with every cent that goes into your purchasing of the product. A better option would be to buy fresh ingredients from the supermarket. Not only will you get to save money, but you can eat healthier as well.
Find cheaper alternatives to the most expensive items
Always keep your grocery receipts. The next time that you need to replenish your stock of food items, draw a circle next to the most expensive items from the list.
If you find the same product with a different brand that sells cheaper, why not give that a try instead? If you decide later on that you like the original brand better, then by all means purchase it.
However, you will usually find cheaper items with almost the same quality and when it comes to grocery shopping – every bit of savings does help.
Shop around your planned weekly menu
One of the biggest mistakes made by people is going grocery shopping without a plan, or a list of which items they should buy. If you have to feed a family with four kids, make a menu for the week and draw your grocery shopping around this list.
Know when to buy in bulk, and when it’s cheaper to buy on a retail basis
Depending on your city or state of residence, there are certain local products which are cheaper to buy in bulk. There are also other items which are cheaper to buy on a retail basis, so always make a price comparison. Always check the unit price and ask the sales staff about the discounts that you can be given when buying in bulk.
Never purchase personal care products on the grocery store
You may want to save on gas money when combining buying your food supplies with personal care products from the same grocery store. However, the prices of personal care products on food-based stores are not really that reasonable. Save yourself a lot of money by buying these supplies where they’re cheaper, which is at thrift shops or dollar stores.
Never shop while you’re tired or hungry
One of the most important tips that you should remember when going grocery shopping is that you should never do it while tired or hungry. Those hunger pangs will make your hands itch to add one item after another on your shopping cart which you are only craving for. Once you have consumed those food items that you can’t wait to eat, you will realize that you did not really buy anything substantial for your stock of grocery items.
The Best Way to Save Money when Shopping for Food
The above list includes tips on how you can primarily save money on grocery supplies. But did you know that you can get even more bang for your buck by eating healthy? Not only will you be saving money when shopping for food, but you can ward off diseases as well by living a healthier lifestyle.
Nobody really orders salads on restaurants and while you’re at home, you should skip the convenience offered by pre-packaged salad mixes as well. Grow your own mini-lettuce garden, or simply make your own mix by buying heads of lettuce with different variants such as romaine, red leaf, escarole or radicchio.
If you love cooking and you use up a lot of spices, purchase them from bulk bins. There are stores which offer spices for a certain price per ounce, which is usually less expensive than buying bottled spices.
For those who are looking for hearty meals but would not necessarily want to pay a huge amount for cooking, make sure to buy lots of potatoes. These veggies are filling, cheap and nutritious. They’re a good source of vitamin C, fiber and potassium and you can turn them into a flurry of flavorful dishes. Aside from the typical mashed potatoes, you can turn them into healthy home-made fries, stuff them with beans, add them to an all-veggie dish, roast them or turn them into hash browns for a great breakfast.
Another versatile but cheap kitchen item that you can buy is beans. There are different variants of these fiber and protein-rich food items. Beans can be tossed with salads, used in pasta, soup, or chilli recipes. If you want to feed a huge family, buy ground beef which is one of the cheapest main ingredients that you can find in the market.
In addition to meat, you can include seafood items in your grocery shopping list. Salmon and other items from the fish counter are usually on sale. Frozen veggies, meats on sale, grains – there are plenty of other food items that you can buy from grocery stores where you can enjoy great savings, while eating healthier at the same time.