Cool Ideas

Six Ways to Save at the Grocery Store

There’s no avoiding it: You have to eat, and it’s going to cost you. In fact, experts estimate that the average 4-person household spends up to $1,000 each month on food—practically a mortgage payment! Because food is a basic need, people don’t tend to feel guilty when hitting the grocery store, which means they don’t monitor what they are spending. After all, it’s much easier to justify a $100 grocery bill than a $100 purchase at the mall. However, with a little discipline and planning, it’s easy to keep yourself well fed and well under budget. Just follow these easy tips and watch your monthly savings quickly add up!

  1. Keep a food log: The first step to saving is to figure out how much you are spending in the first place. Keep track of all your food purchases for an entire month, and then figure out where you might be able to save. You might find you could replace a certain brand, or that your dinner recipes require too many costly ingredients. It’s also important to track the amount of food you are throwing away, because wasted food is the equivalent of wasted money. Likely you’ll be able to scale back on the certain perishable purchases, and help keep food costs down.
  2. Shop with coupons: Kudos to you if you are already a couponing expert. However, many shoppers don’t feel coupon hunting is worth their time. If you fall into the latter category, it’s time you start viewing coupons as cash in your pocket. You wouldn’t throw away a dollar, so don’t let a dollar coupon go to waste. Sites like CoolSavings make it fast and free to search for printable coupons on the products you already buy.
  3. Always bring a list: This is just as important as bringing your coupons to the grocery store. Make a list of the things you need for upcoming meals, and stick to it. Unplanned purchases are the easiest and most common way to go over budget. Adding just a few extra things to your cart could increase your bill by $20 or more each week. Stay focused and keep moving to reduce the temptation of things you don’t really need; the more you pause and examine something, the more likely you are to buy it.
  4. Use coupons wisely: Don’t buy something just because it’s on sale. Sure, you might save a $1 off a $4 food item, but you’re still spending $3 more than you need to spend.
  5. Don’t shop hungry: You’re more likely to stray off your list when you shop hungry. Like we said, unplanned purchases are the number cause of going over budget, and shopping hungry is the number factor in throwing those extra items in your cart.
  6. Make one large trip: Every time you enter the grocery store is another chance to spend. By reducing the frequency of your trips, you are reducing opportunities to spend. Try to shop for at least one week of food at a time, but eventually aim for one shopping trip every two weeks.