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How to Save Money On Groceries
How to save money on groceries? When the coronavirus hit, many remember feeling so scared of their financial situation. How am I going to pay rent now? How am I going to buy food? What about my health insurance? I wished that I had scrimped a little somewhere, just to save up a little safety buffer.
Now, many are choosing to pinch pennies on buying groceries and using the savings to give themselves a little peace of mind. There are many ways to do this – from more obvious options like buying cheaper products to more obscure ones like buying more non-perishables than perishables.
Here are just a few tips on how to save money on groceries. By the end of this article, you’ll be familiar with all the ways people pinch pennies while strolling through the aisles.
How To Save Money On Groceries
#1- Buy Cheaper Products
If you’re really hard-up for cash, this may be your best bet. Buying cheaper products may seem distasteful to some, but it’s a godsend in the end. Sure, store-brand breadcrumbs aren’t as good as name-brand – but they’re two dollars cheaper! How could you afford not to take a deal like that if you’re really scrimping?
#2- Shop at Cheaper Stores
There’s no shame in shopping at a smaller, cheaper, local store over a larger organic brand like Whole Foods. Shopping at cheaper stores could save you tens or even hundreds of dollars a month on your much-needed expenses.
A few larger, recognizable grocery store chains have extremely low prices. Take, for example, Aldi. With all the trappings of a whole foods grocery store – green lighting, minimal employees, and so on – Aldi still manages to have extremely affordable prices that can be marked down from other stores’ prices by significant percentages.
If you’ve got a cheaper grocery in your area, try shopping there. It may be that you don’t like their products, which is alright. You may also find yourself skeptical of the extremely low prices. In any case, you can also try the next step if you’re particularly attached to your middle-of-the-road or top-tier grocery store.
Related content: Check out these money-saving challenges
#3- Get a Store Card
I’m continually amazed at the miracles a store card can work overall on a grocery bill. It certainly won’t win you anything for free, but it can help you take two, three, or even five to six bucks off your weekly grocery expenditures!
Groceries give out these cards to encourage a sense of loyalty to them. The idea is that if you offer people deals (for free, even) they’ll come back and spend more money at your store. Across the country, this method works, which is why stores are constantly offering you cards.
If it’s free, take it. Stroll the aisles looking for reduced “with card” prices, and take those. Don’t be fooled though – two dollars without a discount is still better than four dollars with a two-dollar discount. Make sure to count your costs, not your savings.
#4- Look for Deals and Sales
This is possibly one of the most money-saving things you can do when you’re browsing the aisles of your favorite store.
Looking for deals and steals can get your high-priced products for very little – sometimes as little as store-brand. Oftentimes, when a product reaches its ‘sell by’ date or nears it, stores will put it on clearance. You can find delicious cookies, pastries, pies, and even meats (if you’re willing to risk that) for far less than what you’d pay on a regular day.
It’s all about developing an eye for price tags. Oftentimes, companies will make clearance price tags glowing yellow. They also might have a clearance or damaged cart in the back of the store. Ask an employee if they have a damaged or clearance section.
Also, keep looking for those members-only deals. Sometimes, sales only apply to cardmembers. People have been hooked more times than one by this very trick.
#5- Watch Your Spending
If you don’t know how much you’re spending, how can you possibly know how much to cut out?
There are a few ways to watch your spending when you’re at the store. One favorite is the grocery booklet. Simply take a small booklet and a pen or pencil (or use your phone), and write the prices of everything you put in your basket or cart. Keeping track of these prices will save you from having to pay more than you thought you would at checkout.
A lot of groceries can look like very little in your cart, so it’s important to keep things tallied up and get an idea of how much you are spending vs. how much you want to be spending.
Also, try tallying up your groceries monthly. This can be done in much the same way, but by adding up your total bills at the end of the month. Having a comprehensive list of everything you’ve bought can tell you where you may be overspending and what you might be able to cut out.
#6- Ask for Deals
What you might not know is that deals on a whole range of products might exist for the asking. Some stores carry damaged or expired packages long after they otherwise might have thrown them out. Simply asking if there are any discounted products around may reveal a whole realm of savings you hadn’t suspected before.
#7- Buy in Bulk
There are so many stores that cater to the exact kinds of people who like to buy in bulk. From Costco to Sam’s Club, there are really no limits on who can buy in bulk and who can’t. But why does it help to buy more products?
Well, the answer lies in how grocery stores like to reward their customers. Oftentimes, you might see buy one, get one free deals. Deals like these encourage customers to buy more by promising them to give them a greater bang for their buck.
The concept with bulk stores is the same. If you can give your product away for $1.75 a pop individually, and $0.75 in bulk while still making a profit, you can avoid having to throw out some products because of a past expiration date. Moving more products means making more profits. Thus, it’s smart to try and get your customers to buy whatever you have on-hand.
Some of these profits get passed down to the customers in the form of savings. Plus, making fewer trips to the grocery store means saving on gas, which we’ll talk about in our next section.
#8- Make Fewer Trips
Making fewer trips has got to be one of the absolute best ways to save on groceries and expenses. Depending on how far you live from your local grocery store, you could be spending up to a dollar or two per trip on gas. This doesn’t seem like much, but if you’re going twice a week, it could add up to $80 per year.
Ok, so it still can’t seem like much. A drop in the bucket, maybe. But what is a full bucket besides a million little drops?
There are many ways to do this. For one, you could choose a closer grocery store. In my hometown, there are three of the same store. One of them is considered to be better than the others, but do I shop at it? No, because between me and that store there are a million traffic stops and probably ten miles of space.
Instead, I opt for the seedier one that lies closer to my house.
#9- Coupon, Coupon, Coupon
When I was in school, I was always amazed by people who throw away the little coupons that came with their receipts. Coupons can hold oh-so-many great deals for those willing to take advantage. Start a coupon book if you like – or just keep them on the counter. Either way works.
Which coupon you might get is often a mystery. When I was a child, they used to have coupon dispensers all throughout the aisles, which I just loved to take advantage of. Not for the coupons themselves, of course, but for the cool noise they made and the thrill of seeing them dispensed before my very eyes.
Nowadays, couponing can be a much more calculated endeavor. Online websites for coupons provide us with sources to meet our exact needs, and can even give us better deals than we might get from the receipt printer.
That being said, check out this next hint to bring your coupon game into the computer age.
#10- Use Coupon Apps/Websites
For those who want quick coupons on the go, you might consider using apps specifically for grocery coupons. These apps aren’t hard to find, and they can save you tens of dollars on your monthly grocery bill. Combine them with other budgeting methods, and you could have a real cash cow on your hands!
One of these apps is Ibotta. It collects deals and offers them up to its users so that they can take advantage of cash-back offers at places like Walmart, Kroger, and Food Lion. With discounts at such big-name stores, it’s really a wonder everyone’s not using these apps.
They’re super easy to install and use and, dare I say, even fun? They can even often be free, meaning that you’re just a button-push away from saving a ton on groceries and other necessities. Some even offer discounts at non-grocery and online outlets. So, get your shop on guilt-free! Just don’t go overboard.
#11- Eat it All
You’ve probably heard your parents say things like, “make sure you clean your plate,” or, “you know, there are children starving out there!” Discounting the fact that you eating all your food won’t help any starving children, cleaning your plate may be a way to big savings.
When you throw away uneaten food, you’re throwing away money – lots of money. According to one source, Americans waste well over $100,000,000 in foodstuffs every year.
By making sure you find creative ways to eat your food (before it goes bad) you ensure that you won’t have to be constantly keeping abreast of a wave of expired foods.
#12- Buy Meat and Freeze It
Now, this is a weird one, and you likely haven’t heard it before. But it makes sense when you consider the economics of meat.
I remember, back when COVID was just starting up, that there was a run on meat, just like on toilet paper, at my local grocery store. After that, meat was hard to come by, and when you finally found a good piece, it was around double what you would have paid before.
This is because meat prices, like gas prices, can fluctuate. Meat can even drop by half if it’s past or nearing its sell-by date. Buying cheap meat in bulk, when you do spot a deal, is a great way to save money on meat. Just make sure you freeze it afterward and try to buy the cheaper proteins like chicken and turkey bacon, rather than, say, beef or fish.
In Conclusion: How To Save Money On Groceries
There’s a whole assortment of ways to save money buying groceries, only some of which have to do with buying ‘lower-quality’ foods. From getting a store card to saving on gas, all the way down to couponing apps, there are tons of unique ways to save.