According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Americans spend an average of $372 per month on groceries. For many, the social distance caused by COVID-19 is driving up our grocery costs as we cook more at home, stay indoors, and, let’s face it, stress-buy. You can still save money by shopping in person once a week or ordering groceries online. Here are some of our favorite money-saving tips.
How to Save Money on Groceries: Top 15 Ways
1. Create a Budget
Spending more money on food is easy to justify. It is your lifeblood. If you put blinders on at the grocery store, they can easily spill over to your expenses and throw your monthly budget into disarray. Start by adding food costs to your budget monthly, divide by the number of times you shop per month, and set a limit for each trip.
2. Create a meal plan
Plan your shopping before you go. During the pandemic, grocery stores continued to publish weekly circulars. Here’s where you start. If you plan your meals around what is on sale, you can save a lot of money.
3. Be Flexible
Some sale items sell out fast due to increased demand and disruptions in the supply chain. A backup plan will save you the expense of buying a more costly item on-the-fly. Most grocery stores offer several cuts of meat on sale simultaneously. Put both chuck roast and round steak on your list if you are looking for them. This will allow you to swap quickly if the stock runs out.
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4. Do the Math
Comparing the price per ounce is one of the best ways to save on groceries. On the price tag, most grocery stores will list the price per ounce or per unit. Compare the price breakdown of two brands before you buy to ensure that you are getting the best deal.
5. Compare Package Size
When it comes to groceries, packaging can be tricky. There’s often less product than you think in large packages. You may find that purchasing several smaller packages will cost less than buying a larger package.
6. Consider Buying Outside of the Grocery Store
You’re not alone in the battle for your grocery dollar. Target and Walmart are two of the biggest retailers that offer great grocery deals. Many farmer’s markets also offer cheaper produce, grains, and nuts. Many farmer’s markets now offer boxes of bulk produce. These boxes include a variety of vegetables in season at a discount price.
7. Compare Bulk Store Prices
Comparing the cost per unit between your local grocery store and Warehouse Club will help you avoid accidentally wasting your food budget. Comparing the per-unit costs of your groceries and warehouse clubs will help you to avoid accidentally breaking your food budget. The majority of warehouse clubs have online pricing.
8. Use Cash Back Apps
Apps such as Ibotta or Checkout51 work with brands and stores to offer cash-back deals that go beyond weekly sales. You can “stack” most rebates, meaning that you can get a larger discount by claiming a rebate with a sale product.
9. Get the App
Deal apps are available at major box stores, such as Target and many supermarket chains. Signing up at your local store will give you access to special discounts, loyalty coupons, and sales. These discounts are often stacked up with rebate apps and manufacturer coupons to get even bigger savings.
10. Compare Delivery Prices
Contactless grocery delivery is a safer (and more time-saving!) option. The cost can be high, but it is safer (and faster!) Do some research before you go to the grocery store if you want to avoid it and save money. Compare delivery service costs. Shipt, for example, offers both monthly and one-time fees. A monthly plan could be more affordable depending on how frequently you order.
Compare the prices of the same items on more than one platform to ensure you get the best deal. Instacart, for example, may increase the price of certain items.
11. Do Your Own Prep
You’re paying for convenience when you purchase food that has been prepared in advance. Buy fresh produce and food to save money. Do the preparation and cooking yourself. You can buy pre-chopped veggies and toss them into a pan quickly for a quick dinner, but you will save money if you do a little chopping yourself. It’s the same with microwave dinners and pre-packaged lettuce. You can save money by doing the work in the kitchen.
12. Rethink Scraps
Americans waste almost 1 pound of food per day on average. Rethink what you throw away to get more out of it. Citrus peels can be frozen and used in future cocktails. You can freeze tomato paste in an ice-cube tray to have it ready for use later. Even the peels from most vegetables can make vegetable stock.
13. Track Your Spending
Keep track of all your grocery costs. You can easily add your transactions to budgeting software. Keep an eye on the overall budget for food to ensure you aren’t overspending. Look for any increases in your budget so that you can know when to make cuts. It is easy to spend too much at the grocery store, even in good times.
14. Monitor Price Increases
Costs of groceries increase with inflation over time, due to seasonal variations, shortages, and demand. A sudden increase in prices can be caused by disruptive events like COVID-19. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in April 2020, grocery prices rose 2.6%. Check your grocery tracking expenses periodically to keep track of any increases. Your expense tracker will help you identify increases in your grocery spending over time so that you can adjust your shopping habits to stay within budget.
15. Don’t Forget the Takeout
Budgeting software can help you keep track of your weekly takeout lunches, drive-through purchases, and dining out. Even low-cost meals can add up quickly in a single month and blow your food budget. You may want to add ‘dining out’ as a separate budget category if you are consistently overspending. This will help you keep your costs under control.
In conclusion, implementing these 15 strategies can help you save money on groceries: plan and budget, meal plan, buy in bulk, use coupons, compare prices, shop at discount stores, avoid convenience foods, cook in batches, shop seasonally, grow your own produce, avoid shopping when hungry, buy store brands, skip pre-packaged snacks, and track expenses.