Choose The Right Store
Picking the right store to go to will make all the difference in the world when it comes to your grocery costs. While every store offers sales and discounts from time to time when you know which store consistently provides you the lowest prices on the items you buy everyday then you can maximize your savings. Do you shop at a Whole Foods or Trader Joes? A national chain market like Vons/Safeway or Ralphs/Kroger or do you shop at a Super Wal Mart? Each of these stores will have a different everyday price for the same item. Take some time to figure which store has the best prices for what you buy. It may seem like a lot work but you only need to do it once; if you were to buy a big-ticket item like a new TV I’m sure you would take the time to shop around for the best price. Well if you spend $200 per paycheck on groceries that comes out to $5,200.00 per year so it is in your best interest to invest some time into this research.
Find Alternatives To Expensive Items
What are the most expensive items on your grocery list? Have you ever looked over your receipt and determined which items are the biggest budget busters? When you know what the most expensive items on your grocery list are then you can begin to find alternatives you throw into mix to help lower costs. A package of 4 sirloin steaks typically costs many times more than an equivalent package of chicken breasts. Or how about trying lean ground beef, which would be a much cheaper alternative to sirloin steak, and forming it into patties and cooking like you would a steak. That’s something I do for a quick weeknight meal many times.
Planning ahead is both a huge time and money saver, it will help you to avoid any last-minute impulse buys at the store – those unplanned and unbudgeted impulse purchases are major budget busters. Before you go to the store take some time and plan out a menu of what you will eat for the week and the corresponding ingredients you will need. It’s important to make this list while you are still at home so you can see what you have – see point below – and will not be unduly influenced at the last minute.
Use What You Have
Going right along with planning its essential that you use up everything you have already so that you are not throwing away and wasting food you bought but also don’t have to make unnecessary trips to the market.
Skip Prepackaged & Prepared Foods
When you buy convenience food such as prepackaged veggies or salads or any food where you let the grocery store do your kitchen chores for you then you will have to pay a premium. I always see the pre-cut vegetables at the grocery store and they cost anywhere from a 50 cents to a couple of dollars more than the natural state version. It only takes a few extra seconds at home to wash and chop the vegetables so this is an excellent and easy way to make some savings. Same thing goes with buying a Lunchables which could cost $4 per meal; it is much cheaper to buy the deli meat and cheese and crackers separately and use them to make lunches for a week.
Stock Up When Things Are On Sale
When you see that an item you buy regularly is on sale make sure you take this opportunity to stock up. There are a few ground rules though: make sure it is actually something you will use and would have bought anyway and make sure it has a long enough shelf life or that you can freeze it long enough to be able to use everything you are buying. If the item on sale meets these criteria then by all means fill up the cart and enjoy the savings.
Check The Details
When you are buying things in bulk make sure you are actually getting a savings on the per unit cost. Many stores and labels show the per unit cost along with the overall cost of the product. For example when trying to decide between a 12 pack of soda or a 2 liter check to see what the per ounce cost is on each and most likely you will find significant savings on the 2 liter bottle. It’s the same product but by finding the best per unit cost you can max out how much money you are saving.
Buy In Bulk
Buying nonperishable things in bulk at warehouse stores such as Sam’s Club or Costco can end up saving you a lot of money over time. Things to look for in this category would be paper towels, toilet paper, laundry detergent, rice, pasta, canned goods, etc… You want to make sure you are buying things that have a long shelf life and that will not go bad before you use them. Otherwise you will end up wasting a lot of money. Nearby our home there is a Sam’s Club that we use to buy our nonperishable staples and sometimes I get the idea to buy some of the vegetables there because the prices are just so amazing. The reality is though that cooking for just Darla and me most of the time means that the food goes bad before we can finish it all off. On the other hand if we were a large family and cooking for 4 or 5 people than I could clearly see how it would make great sense to buy my vegetables there. So that’s the litmus test when it comes to buying in bulk – Can you finish it before it goes bad?
Move Your Eyes
When you are standing in the aisle at the grocery store take a moment or two to move your eyes up and down to some of the other shelves. Premium brands pay good money to make sure that their products are at eye level so that they are the first thing you see and therefore much more likely the product you will pick up and put in the cart. It’s like any other piece of real estate it all boils down to location, location, location. If you look up or down you will find other brands of the same product that are typically a few cents to even a $1 or more cheaper.
Don’t Buy Personal Care Items At The Grocery Store
Unless you are buying your groceries at the Super Wal Mart chances are that you are over paying for items like toothpaste, shampoo and other personal care items. You typically don’t have to buy items like these on a weekly basis like you do with meats and vegetables; so when the time comes to buy these items go to a drug store or a dollar store or Wal Mart. The same name brand items will typically be cheaper at these other stores than if you tried to buy them at your local grocery market.
If you can add some of these alternative methods for saving money while grocery shopping you will start to find that your weekly trip to the market will become less of a budget buster. Combining these tips along with coupons would really allow you to maximize how much money you save while grocery shopping.
If you have any other great tips on saving while shopping let me know in the comments below.