10 Tips For Saving Money On Grocery Shopping
Article by: Megan Brown
It seems that everywhere you turn these days prices are on the rise, not only at the gas pump but also at the grocery store. Whatever the cause, we are all looking to find smart ways to save. Here are some simple tips and strategies that will help you slash your grocery costs without sacrificing nutrition or taste.
BEFORE YOU GO:
1. Plan Ahead
Plan your weekly menu. Relax, no one expects you to whip up a new dish seven nights a week! Smart menu planning is about utilizing ingredients that can make repeat appearances. Then take inventory of what you have on hand so you don’t overbuy. Lastly, create a detailed shopping list based on your needs and weekly menu plan.
2. Shop Less
I like to schedule just a couple major shopping trips a month and then round out with weekly visits for perishables. This cuts down on those impulse buys we are all prone to. In fact, a recent study shows that impulse buys shoot up 23 percent on unplanned trips, and decrease 13 percent when planned.
3. Cash is King
Set a weekly budget for groceries and plan on paying with cash. Shopping with dollars in hand will cut spending between 18 to 25 percent per trip. Simply put, it’s a whole lot harder to fork over cash than a credit card.
4. Consider Buying and Cooking In Bulk
Bulk shopping clubs like Sam’s or Costco can be cost-effective and those bulk purchases can be a great way to save money — as long as they get used. Additionally, cooking in bulk can also save both money and time. Just prepare the food and freeze it in family-sized portions, which also saves time in the kitchen later on. For example, we love making a big batch of tomato sauce and freezing both the sauce and batches of baked ziti in little two serving trays. This is much less expensive (and much tastier) than buying it!
5. Plant a Garden
Growing a garden is much easier than you would think. Start small, and see how easy it is to grow fresh herbs or a few simple vegetables. There’s nothing better than a summer-fresh tomato from the garden or a homemade pesto sauce made from your very own basil. Tomatoes and herbs even grow well in containers if you don’t have space for a garden.
WHILE YOU’RE THERE:
6. Get in and get out
I schedule 30 minutes a week for grocery shopping. 30 minutes-that’s it! The longer you linger, the more you’ll probably spend. In a recent study, “fast and efficient” shoppers were 82 percent less likely to impulse-buy than the average shopper.
7. Use Sales and Coupons
Planning meals around what’s on sale can lower your grocery bills, especially if you also use coupons. Just make sure they’re for items you would buy anyway. We are all familiar with the Sunday Paper’s coupon section but I am a big believer in utilizing some great phone apps & web sites out there. This way I never “forget” to bring a coupon with me. Snip Snap and Coupons.com are two that are free and super simple to use.
8. Make Healthy Choices — They’re Cheaper (Really!)
Eating healthier foods can actually save you money, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association. In fact, Leafy greens like kale, chard, spinach and broccoli are some of the most nutritious, least expensive things you can buy.
9. Waste Not, Want Not
Before you toss all those perishable food items into your grocery cart, think about exactly how you’ll use it. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that Americans generate roughly 30 million tons of food waste each year. Yowza! Using leftover vegetables or meat in soups, salads, and casseroles (my favorite) reduces cost and gives you a chance to flex your creative muscles in the kitchen.
10. Go Generic
Consider buying store brands instead of more expensive national brands. Many grocery companies buy national-brand products made to their specifications and simply put their own label on the products.