11 Steps to Cutting Grocery Store Spending
While you may succumb to the delicious-looking cookies in the bakery section every week, or to your child’s consistent “can I get this?” question and puppy dog eyes, there are many different ways to keep your spending to a minimum.
The first step to saving money at the grocery store is do not, under any circumstance, go to the store hungry.
The second is to keep your children home if you can’t easily say “no” to their requests.
However, if you can’t keep your children home, stay out of the middle aisles. Stores are strategically designed with dairy and produce on opposite ends to entice their customers to walk through the middle aisles, thereby purchasing items they did not intend to. Or, if your Stop & Shop is like mine, they moved bread from the end aisle to the CANDY AISLE. Stay focused, you will be okay.
Brand-named food items are just that—brand names. The generic/store brands of essential ingredients are exactly the same as brand names. The store brand flour, sugar, butter, eggs, chicken, etc. are almost always cheaper than, and just as quality as its name brand equivalent.
Eat with the seasons. Different produce grows in different seasons. That being said, if you want strawberries in the dead of winter, you are going to be spending a hefty sum for them. (And they are not nearly as good as the cheaper ones in May and June). Here is a great list of the different seasons and which produce are “in season” during that time!
Make a grocery list. Instead of walking into the store with an idea of what you need in your head, write it down on a list. That way, you won’t be tempted to buy something you did not come to the store for, and you won’t forget to purchase something you need.
Don’t shop at eye level. Many companies pay for their place on an eye-level shelf. That being said, anything at eye level is going to be more expensive that what is on the top and bottom shelves. Look above and below you to find cheaper items.
Don’t just shop at one place. Check out the flyers for the grocery stores around your area. Chances are they are all going to have different sales!
Plan your meals by the ads. Most people make their grocery list first, and then check out the ads. Try this: check out the deals the stores are offering, first, and choose your meals based off of the sales.
Buy whole and unprepared food. I took a trip to my local Big Y a few days ago for carrots (I needed them to make cupcakes for my sister’s dog’s birthday party). A one pound bag of baby carrots was $1.99 (making this $1.99 per pound) and a two pound bag of organic, full carrots was $2.99 ($1.495 per pound). I went with the two pound bag because the price per pound was cheaper and the extra pound of carrots would not go to waste. My sister’s boyfriend likes to put chicken grilled chicken in his salads for lunch. He buys the already grilled and cut chicken pieces knowing it is more expensive than buying raw chicken and grilling it himself (because he does not want to take the time at the beginning of the week to cook this). While this is not a huge difference, it definitely will add. Pricing is like this for a majority of produce, cheese, and meats.
Try to create meals based on what you have in your cabinets. Do you have multiple cans of chickpeas in your cabinet or are you over stocked on barbeque sauce? Simply, find recipes that incorporate items you already have in your house to eliminate having to buy more food than necessary at the store. Need help? Check out this website that finds recipes matching the ingredients you already have on hand!
These simple tips will definitely help you keep extra cash in your pocket, which you can end up saving, investing, or using to pay off unwanted credit card debt!
~Sarah Proto, VP of Unbanking