Few would argue that the cost of groceries is on the rise. With the cost of feeding a family of four averaging between $800 and $1,000 per month, learning how to save money on groceries can present challenges. Nowadays, to save money on groceries is less about being a frugal shopper, though that is certainly one of the goals to keep in mind and more about developing a shopping strategy.
Changing grocery shopping habits and routines just a little can realize big savings. Establish a target grocery budget as a goal, say $100 per month for every household member, and be mindful of it when you go shopping. It will make a world of a difference every time you go shopping.
Here are a few tips to help you save money on groceries and save big on food each month:
1) Make a Shopping List
The less time you spend in a grocery store the less you will spend. Shopping lists keep shoppers focused on what they are shopping for. It moves them along quickly and out of the store. The list limits impulse buying, too, which can quickly put thrifty shoppers over budget.
2) Shop with Coupons
Never settle for buying every item on your grocery list for full price. Between grocery store flyers and countless websites dedicated to couponing, there are plenty of opportunities to save. Shoppers can find printable coupons online at RedPlum, SmartSource.com, and Coupons.com. The key to big saving is to collect coupons and double them up when the item goes on sale. With the combination of coupons, sale items, and discounts, you can easily trim your monthly shopping budget.
3) Calculators and Cash
The best way to help meet your target budget is by tallying up the cost as you go. Bring a calculator or simply use your smartphone app to calculate. As you plug in the numbers you will not only be more aware of what you’re buying but begin to weigh the options for getting the most value for every item on your list. When it’s time to checkout, pay with cash. In fact, leave your debit and credit cards in the car. Carry only the amount equal to your target budget. Using a calculator and paying with cash is the surest way to stick to your budget.
4) Stockpile an Inventory of Food
Stockpile items when they come on sale or use coupons to buy two-for-one. Buying an item when it is priced at its lowest will save money. You don’t have to dedicate an entire room, but a space in your pantry should do for non-perishables such as rice, pasta, beans, spices, cans of soup, etc. Perishables like meats, poultry, bread, and frozen vegetables can go in your freezer (whatever you have room for). Stockpiling will save on gas and time for daily trips to the grocery store and, with supplies on hand you will have enough until the next time the item goes on sale. Your inventory should hold you for a minimum of one month, with a goal of building it up to three months.
5) Make a Menu
Plan a weekly menu and stick to it. Creating a menu can be daunting at first—deciding what’s for dinner on Thursday when you’re planning a menu on Monday can be frustrating. You also need to plan recipes ahead. Use your current food stockpile combined with any grocery items that come on sale. Planning meals can lead to big savings. Sit down with your family once a week to get their input. Once agreed upon, shop first from your stockpile, and then supplement where needed from the grocery store or meat market.
6) Stop Wasting Food
One of the most sobering statistics about food produced in the U.S. is that approximately 40% of it is thrown away. That adds up to about 20 pounds of fresh meat and produce per every American. One way to stop wasting food is to only purchase the fresh ingredients you can use before they go bad. The other way is freezing meats, vegetables, and bread when they come on sale to prevent unnecessary waste. You can also re-source leftovers into soups and stews. Turn older bread or rolls into breadcrumbs for your favorite parmesan or salad.
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