There is no denying that buying groceries takes a sizable chunk out of your paycheck. And if you have special dietary needs like celiac disease that requires the consumption of expensive gluten-free foods, your monthly grocery bill may be higher than average. Still, some of your learned shopping habits could be avoidable. Old habits die hard, but if you want to save yourself some money when shopping for food, you should be open to learning a few tricks. Is it possible to save money and still regularly enjoy all the goodies you can’t live without? Yes!
Tip 1: Take inventory
What items do you already have at home? If you already have 3 cans of corn, it probably will not make sense to buy more–unless you really eat a lot of corn. Make a list of what is in your cabinets, refrigerator and freezer. Also pay attention to expiration dates. You may already have a half gallon of milk, but if it expires tomorrow then you might want to go ahead and get more. Taking inventory will save you so much money because if you stick to your list, you will avoid impulse purchases that you really do not need.
Tip 2: Use what you have
All of us are guilty of holding on to some food items for way too long. That box of crackers has been collecting dust for months. And those cans of tuna have been doing the same. If these items have not expired yet, go ahead and use them before they end up in the trash. You don’t like throwing money away, do you?
Tip 3: Pay attention to ads, specials, sales and member exclusives
Plan on making a specific meal in the coming week? Check your local sales papers for products and ingredients that might be on sale. Browsing current deals is also great for sparking meal ideas you might not have considered. If marinara sauce, ground beef and pasta noodles are all on sale, there is a complete meal right there! Planning your meals around discounted items is so beneficial. Obviously it will save you some dough, but it will also give you something to look forward to by knowing you have specific dinner ideas pre-planned for the next week or two. It just might curb the urge to eat out!
Tip 4: Never, ever shop on an empty stomach
This will cause you to place items in your cart based on your hunger pangs at the moment. And when you are hungry, everything looks delicious, right? Have a meal–or at the very least a sizable snack–at home before heading to the store.
Tip 5: Get all of your shopping done in one single trip
Why? Because the more quick stops you make to the store throughout the week, the more money you will spend in the end. That is money wasted not only on store goods, but on gas as well if you have to go out of your way to get to your favorite store.
Tip 6: Take advantage of technology
There are countless apps that allow you to digitally download coupons without having to print them. First, check to see if the store you shop at has an app. If that same store also has a loyalty or membership card, you probably have the ability to download coupons directly to your card so that those discounts are applied once your card is scanned at checkout. So easy!
Tip 7: If at all possible, shop alone.
You know that you will stick to your budget no matter what. But when you are accompanied by a spouse, roommate or a child, your grocery bill will no doubt increase because everyone has different desires when they see what the grocery store has to offer.
Tip 8: Don’t be fooled.
If you see giant bunches of banana and you only need three or four, you can split the bunches to get the exact number of bananas you want. You never have to buy an entire bunch if it’s not what you need. The same goes for sale items. If there are items on sale 10 for $10, you do not have to buy 10 products to get the deal. You might want to check the fine print first, but generally in this case, one item would be $1.