Whether you are experiencing a financial hardship, or are just trying to save a little money, your food budget may be the best way for you to cut expenses. While there are those extreme people who will hunt a good deal and use coupons religiously, there are some who don’t have the time or skills required to save money with extreme couponing.
By implementing a few basic rules into your shopping trip, you may save more money than you realized without clipping coupons or sacrificing nutrition.
1. Take stock
Before you leave to get groceries, take a few moments to look around your kitchen and pantry. Do you have any items that need to be used? Usually, you will find that you need less groceries than you realized because you already have the item you needed in your pantry.
By using those ingredients, you not only save money on this shopping trip, but you are not wasting money that you used to buy the item in the first place.
2. Plan meals
After you see what items you already have in stock, go through and try to create meals to use those items throughout the week. You don’t have to plan meals down to the last detail, but having a general idea of what meals you would like to have next week will save you money at the grocery store.
3. Make a list
After you’ve determined what you want to have in the next week, make a list of what items you lack. You may realize that you lack much less than you had realized.
4. Eat something
The best rule of frugal grocery shopping is to never go shopping while hungry. Even if you just had a meal, go ahead and eat a small snack just before you leave. Not only will you prevent yourself from adding snacks to your cart, but you will also prevent fatigue while shopping.
5. Eat whole foods
If you have the skills to cook, then you have the skills to cook well. Processed food is not only bad for your health, but it also is usually more expensive. Processed food is processed for convenience, and that convenience is costly.
By buying whole foods, you reduce the amount of preservatives and chemicals in your food and also save money.
6. Look Up and Down
If you must buy something processed, whether it be salad dressing or cereal, take the time to look above your eye level and below your eye level. The items on the top and bottom shelves are usually more inexpensive than those at eye level. The quality difference should be fairly miniscule, but the savings could be huge.
7. Pay Attention to Unit Pricing
That giant box of cereal may seem like it’s a good deal, but it may not be. You may not be able to eat a larger amount before the product expires, and the unused portion is wasted money.
Also, sometimes the larger portion is not as good of a deal as the smaller size. Take the time to calculate the price per ounce/gram/ml of the item. This is a time where a calculator may come in handy, but most cellular phones have a reasonable calculator function built in.
8. Don’t buy non-grocery goods at the grocery
As you walk through the store, you may realize that you are almost out of toilet paper or shampoo. Resist the urge to buy those items at the grocery. Take a moment to think about the stores on your way home. If there is a dollar store on your way home, those items are better purchased there. If there are no suitable stores on your way home, then you may choose to buy the items from the grocery, but be aware that you will likely be paying more for the same goods that you could have gotten elsewhere. Plan ahead and you may find that you pass a proper non-grocery store on your way to work and make plans to get those items there.
9. Add to your list
If you find that you are adding to your list, make sure to write that new item onto your list and make a note of it. You may be surprised at the number of items that you add. After you get home, determine if those items were really necessary or if they could have been avoided.
10. Check your receipt
Before you leave the grocery, take a moment to glance at your receipt versus your list. Were you charged incorrectly for an item? These errors happen frequently, and it is easier to deal with them immediately than when you get home.
11. Keep your receipt
Now that you have your groceries, keep the receipt for next week. If you find that you are buying the same things week after week, it is helpful to track how much pricing changes. Sometimes, groceries will have sales on items that you use frequently. When you realize that an item won’t expire by the next week, it may be beneficial to buy more than you need if they are on sale.
Now that you know how to save money at the grocery, take your extra money and put it to good use. Make an extra savings account, or buy yourself something nice. Eventually your grocery savings may add up to something amazing!