Want to know how to save money on groceries? We've come up with 20 tips that will help you cut costs when purchasing food.
20. List it. Instead of listing everything you THINK you need, first plan your meals for the week and then buy the ingredients you’ll ACTUALLY need to make them. By doing so, experts say you just might save up to 41% on your grocery bill.
19. Eat first. This tried and true hint bears repeating, as going to the grocery story hungry is the primary reason we buy on impulse.
18. Skip the processed food. Not only are they not good for you, they cost more than unprocessed foods.
17. Grate your own. Like processed foods, pre-grated cheese, carrots and the like, cost more.
16. No toiletries, please. If you can, buy only groceries at the grocery store. Make a separate list of toiletries and paper products for the discount stores, where they’ll cost 20 to 40 percent LESS.
15. Skip the pre-cuts. Like #17, cutting meat and produce will save you money, BUT it’s also safer to eat, as ‘many of the incidents of food-borne illness linked to fresh produce are traced to processing,’ as per The Times-Picayune.
14. Beware of the aisle maze. Grocery stores put dairy products and meat in the back of the store for a reason: they want to force you to walk through all those aisle of temptation to get there. So, if you’re making a quick trip for milk, keep this in mind to avoid manipulation.
13. Beware of the end-caps. And speaking of manipulation, just because items are displayed on an ‘end-cap’ doesn’t mean they’re on sale. Note: manufacturers of those items often times PAY for those prime display locations. BTW: the same goes for end caps in book stores. Just because a book is displayed on an end cap, doesn’t mean it’s good!
12. Toast your bread. Consider by-passing the more expensive fresh-baked bread and reaching for the day old selection, which you can keep in the freezer for toasting. Also, many–if not all–bagel shops discount drastically as the end of the day nears. Keep a look out for these fabulous deals the next time you’re hankering for an afternoon schmear.
11. Beware of bulk. Buying in bulk, when the price is right, is tempting, but only buy groceries that you know you’ll use before they’ll perish. Non-perishables, of course, are the safest to buy in bulk.
10. Beware of bulk part 2, or why you should take a calculator to the supermarket. Just because an item is available in a larger size/amount, doesn’t mean it’s cheaper. To make sure you’re not getting swindled, check the unit price.
9. Back to the tap. Bottled water is big business and big news, as of late. According to an August 1, 2007 New York Times editorial, "Almost all municipal water in America is so good that nobody needs to import a single bottle from Italy or France or the Fiji Islands. Meanwhile, if you choose to get your recommended eight glasses a day from bottled water, you could spend up to $1,400 annually. The same amount of tap water would cost you about 49 cents." And let’s not get started with all those plastic bottles heading to the landfills.
8. Freeze your dairy. When on sale, consider stocking up on milk and freezing it. Keep in mind that whole or 2% freezes better than skim. Of course, you’ll want to use the top inch or two of the milk before you freeze the container so it doesn’t explode when it expands.
7. And speaking of dairy.... Although manufacturers often print on the packaging of cheese that it’s not recommended for freezing, I do it all the time, as did my mother. Especially those kinds of cheeses, like mozzarella, that I use primarily in cooking.
6. Be flexible. Just because you have a list, doesn’t mean you can’t take advantage of store specials you might come across.
5. Make a coupon file. A lot of people who dislike using coupons do so because they can be inconvenient. They get lost or you forget to use them. Consider making a coupon file to make the experience more ‘enjoyable’. You can buy files made especially for coupon organization, but how about rescuing an appropriately sized food canister and making a few file dividers out of index cards for your most popular product categories?
4. Make your own mixes. Pre-made mixes are expensive. Check out cdkitchen for some low cost and interesting alternatives.
3. Note what you have and have not. Besides keeping track of what you DON’T have, keep track of what you DO have, thus avoiding unnecessary purchases. (I remember a time when we had 3 bottles of ketchup in the pantry because we kept forgetting we already had it!)
2. Eat more beans! Beans are inexpensive, tasty and provide all kinds of nutrition. So, the next time you balk at the price of ground round, consider the almighty legume!!!
And the number 1 way to save money at the grocery store....
Keep an eye on the scanner. According to Robyn Moreno of Woman's Day, 'Grocery stores are not always reset with current sale prices. Your chances of being charged the full price on a sale item are high.' Robyn suggests to speak up immediately when you see an error. Think an error or two is no big deal? Americans lose anywhere from 1 to 3 BILLION DOLLARS a year on scanning discrepancies.
Typical American Grocery Store' courtesy of Wikipedia.