If we open the ‘necessary things’ book, at the first chapter, we will most likely see ‘groceries’ and for good reasons. The importance of groceries and our daily need for them is quite obvious and doesn’t need any introductions; however, there’s more to it neither a post nor a book can include.
All households need groceries, but, at the same time, they also need money. The amount of money we spend on groceries in a month is outstanding, or, better said, ridiculous. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, on average, the cost of essential foods per month for just one person ranges from $150 to $300.
Where you live also makes quite a difference. For example, living in the City of Angels comes with a huge price tag. Some L.A. residents pay more than $370 on groceries. And if you think that it’s outrageous, ask Seattle residents how they feel about it.
In Seattle, a person spends approximately $500 on groceries required for just one month. The large sum of money is also considered the monthly average. So, as you can see, it’s effortless to get carried away when you’re grocery shopping. And it’s even harder to resist the temptation of spending when you’re shopping on an empty stomach.
Thankfully, there are a ton of money-saving strategies and tips to adopt when you’re grocery shopping. Here we’ve highlighted the best of the best.
Write your shopping list and stick to it
The biggest issue most Americans face when grocery shopping is the absence of a list. And this issue has nothing to do with the five calls you’ve made to ask your beloved spouse the exact same thing ‘What should I buy, again…?’
It’s about being frugal and money-wise. Choosing and planning a shopping list will ensure you better use of all the foods found in your shopping cart; sticking to a list will help you avoid impulse (and, in most cases, unnecessary) buying. Being prepared is beneficial in every possible scenario, including grocery shopping.
This easy and effortless strategy can easily save you at least $15 a trip. So, do the math! If you’re grocery shopping once a week, then you can save up to $60 per month and $720 per year.
Take advantage of sales
Are you aware of the products that are on sale? Or you’re just passing through, ignoring them completely? Being more acutely aware of the sales can have a big impact on your monthly budget. There’s a trick, though: you should only buy those items you use on a regular basis.
Don’t buy it just because it’s on sale! Stock up on the food items you really need in order to check an entire week’s worth of meals. However, that’s not all… While some food items have literally no expiration date, many must be consumed in a matter of days.
In other words, if perishable foods are on sale, don’t buy large quantities—they will most likely spoil, forcing you to throw money out of your window. So, don’t buy a pack of 24 extremely cheap sausages that expire the following day… unless you plan on eating all of them in the next 24 hours.
Better yet, just make the perfect duo: sales and coupons! Take advantage of non-perishable food items that are on sale while using your coupons. SavingStar, Ibotta, SnipSnap, Coupon Sherpa, and Coupons.com are some coupon apps for groceries you should definitely use.
Buy in bulk
There is a lot of controversy about buying in bulk. Some see it as an excellent way to save more dollars, while others tend to see it as unnecessary waste. However, just like sales, it’s not just about buying in bulk; it’s about being mindful of what you’re buying in bulk and knowing it will serve a purpose that you can use.
Not all bulk items are created equal, so selecting the ‘good’ ones from the ‘bad’ ones is crucial to saving money. Items such as toilet paper, cleaning products, and paper towels are always worth buying in bulk, but seeds, condiments, and coffee aren’t (you can’t drink 6 month-old coffee and expect it to taste fresh).
Buy in bulk what makes sense, because if you can’t use certain products you’ve bought in bulk before they go bad, you’ll regret it.
Which items will you buy in bulk from now on?
Look for the products marked for quick sale
Now you know how to save on cleaning products and non-perishable foods, but how about meat? Looking for meat products marked for a quick sale is a surefire way for putting more dollars in your piggy bank.
Pay attention to when your local grocery store marks the meat products for a quick sale and plan your grocery store trip on the same day. In only one month, you will save a ton of money on your meat purchases.
However, make sure you’ll cook the meat that day. If it’s not possible, just freeze it (remember the sausages?!).
Don’t shop on an empty stomach
Shopping on an empty stomach is the biggest mistake you could possibly make. When you’re hungry, virtually everything looks tasty and appetizing, so it can be quite challenging to stick to a grocery shopping list, as well as your budget.
Try to plan your grocery store trips after lunch, when your stomach is happy and satisfied. Even a small snack eaten in the car while you’re on your way to your grocery store could make a huge difference in your pockets. Not doing so…. your health will suffer too.
A recent study conducted by Cornell’s University research team concluded that people who go shopping hungry are more likely to buy, therefore eat, junk food. Plus, when we are hungry, we lose focus, so who will spot the products marked for a quick sale?
So, always remember it’s better to shop on a full stomach than an empty bank account.
Grocery shop at more than just one store
How so? Well… if you shop at one grocery store, you can’t compare it with others. Visiting multiple stores to buy essential items can save you big in the long run. For instance, you may want to go to a warehouse store in order to stock up on cleaning products and toilet paper.
But don’t forget about gas! Plan a route that suits you based on your location. While indeed you can save a lot of money by shopping at multiple stores, you may also fall into the pit of spending more on fuel.
And yes, a coupon book will do the trick too, but if you’re planning to buy a new product—let’s say meat—you may want to see it first.
Try store brands
Most store-brand lines, such as Costco’s Kirkland Signature, offer great deals year-round. Plus, there’s not a single thing store brands don’t cover. From fresh produce to household essentials, you can find a variety of products signed by the store itself.
The best part? They are much cheaper than name-brand products. Sadly, most of us tend to ignore them because they don’t come with a pretty package or an undeniable reputation, despite the fact that, on most occasions, they contain the exact same ingredients. Don’t believe us? Then compare the labels next time! (It’s good to be picky, but not in all situations…)
There are a ton of store-brand products made by popular manufacturers. For instance, did you know that Costco’s alkaline batteries are actually manufactured by Duracell? Just try them!
And that’s definitely not all you can get from Costco!