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The recession in full swing and many families have been tightening their belts. With that in mind, I thought I’d spend a bit of time talking about how to save money on what, for many of us, is a major monthly expenditure — groceries! None of this is rocket science, but it does take a bit of discipline. With a bit of discipline, you can save a lot of money each and every month. Oh, and you might end up eating healthier, too. Talk about a win-win!
Before we dive into the full list, a reader pointed out that she saves money on grocery purchases by using credit cards offering cash back or points on grocery purchases. Just be sure to pay your card in full – reward credit cards can be useful tools, but they can also be dangerous if you build up debt – the interest you may be charged can easily outweigh any benefits you receive from points.
Now onto the full list!
Tips on How to Save Money on Groceries
- Go shopping alone
- Have a budget and stick to it
- Make fewer, larger trips
- Don’t shop hungry
- Plan your meals in advance
- Scan your cupboards, pantry, and fridge before leaving
- Keep a running list of items you need on your fridge
- Break your list down by store and plan your outing accordingly
- Plan your trip through the store to minimize wandering the aisles
- Don’t forget your list when you head to the store, but…
- Be willing to deviate from your list for great deals
- Don’t be afraid of store brands
- Buy the Sunday paper
- Keep an eye on the weekly store circular
- Clip (and use!) coupons for name brand items
- Check the store’s website for printable coupons
- Be on the lookout for “double coupon” days
- Stack manufacturer and store coupons
- Keep a price list/book so you know a deal when you see one
- Learn your store’s sale cycle (sales are often cyclical)
- Stock up (within reason) when things are on sale
- Get rain checks when sale items are out of stock
- Visit multiple stores to get the best deals, or…
- Ask your preferred store to match prices form elsewhere
- Avoid non-grocery items that can be bought for less elsewhere
- Joins the store’s affinity program and flash your card
- Buy a chest freezer
- Buy in bulk, but…
- Be sure to look at unit pricing
- Bring a calculator (unless you’re a math whiz)
- Be on the lookout for “shrinkage” (e.g., 1.5 quarts vs. half gallon)
- Cook large batches and freeze for later
- Don’t waste leftovers
- Eat less – seriously, many people eat way more than necessary
- Cook from scratch, avoid processed foods
- Avoid frozen/prepared entrees
- Eat more fruits/veggies, cut back on meat
- Eat in season fruits/vegetables
- Plant a garden
- Hit the local farmer’s market
- Drink more water, fewer costly beverages
- Be on the lookout for pricing errors at the register
- Be sure they scan instant coupons that are attached to some items
- Always fill out and send your rebates
Finally, consider the value of your time. While minimizing your expenditures is always a good idea, it doesn’t always make sense to spend tons of extra time in hopes of saving a few cents off your grocery bill.
How Do You Save Money on Groceries?
Now it’s your turn. While the list above is a good start, I’ve undoubtedly missed a number of things. So… If you have any suggestions as to how to save money on groceries, please share them in the comments.