We all have to eat: it’s just a fact of life. I know that I can get real hangry when my blood sugar drops. It’s not pretty.
I also know that cutting your expenses at the grocery store is one of the best ways to save in your budget. Groceries are necessary, but they don’t have to be expensive.
If you’ve been struggling to pay less at the store and want to cut costs on groceries, read on for tips that will save you some serious cash.
Set A Budget
First of all, in order to cut your grocery costs, you need to know what you’re spending each month. If you just head to the store whenever you need food or have never tracked your grocery spending, now is the time to start.
If you’re a single person, try sticking to a $200 budget for the month. If you’re feeding a family, you’ll spend more than that, of course, but you can still keep your spending in check with the following tips.
Decide what you’ll be eating during the week before you go to the store. Don’t just base this decision on your whims, either.
To ramp up your savings, buy what’s on sale that week at your grocery store. Use coupons and the circular that grocery stores put out to determine what’s on sale that week. Planning meals around what’s cheapest in the store is a guaranteed money saver.
The meals you plan should be ones that lead to leftovers. Things like homemade pizza are delicious, easy to make, and can yield leftovers in a multitude of ways. A single person can get two or three meals from one homemade pizza!
Plus, the ingredients you use to make the pizza can be re-purposed to make other meals. The sauce can become pasta sauce, the cheese can become a topping for literally any meal that benefits from cheese (aka everything), and any toppings like veggies can go into meals like salads, omelettes, casserole, and pad thai.
Buy things with multiple meals in mind and you’ll cut down hugely on food waste, which is a huge culprit in running up your grocery bill. It doesn’t matter if you’re buying the cheapest food in the entire store. If it ends up in the trash, that’s still money straight down the drain!
Don’t Practice Brand Loyalty
Another huge pitfall at the grocery store is our buying habits. We often buy the same product over and over because that’s “our brand.” I know that I buy the same kind of peanut butter that my mother bought when we were kids. It’s no better or worse than the cheaper kind, it’s simply what I’m familiar with.
Get out of your rut and replace things in your routine. If you’re buying name brand simply for the brand, that’s money wasted. Compare ingredients to see if the more expensive one is actually of better quality. Start small if you have to: buy one non-name brand item each week when you shop.
What have you got to lose by trying a store brand?
Buy In Bulk
The bulk section of the grocery store isn’t just for hippies. Buying bulk foods like rice and lentils is a great way to reduce your costs. Canned beans may be easy to use, but they’re more expensive and generate more waste by being in a can.
Buying bulk ensures that you’ll have food in the pantry for a while, removing the excuse “there’s nothing to eat!” You’ll also save money because the price per unit is less.
Tips and Tricks
One of the best tips I got for how to not waste food is this: after getting home and putting away your groceries, tape the receipt to the refrigerator. That way you’ll always know what you have in the house.
It will cut down on food waste by reminding you that you have produce that needs to be used. It will remind you of dry foods that could be hiding in your cabinets.
Cross out what gets used up as you go, and when the list is totally finished, you’ll know it’s time to go back to the store. By using everything that you buy, you’ll prolong the time between store trips, and you’ll make sure you use everything you spent money on. Both are great money savers!
How do you save at the grocery store? Are you guilty of spending too much on groceries, or experiencing food waste?