Well, the fact is that consumer food and grocery prices are soaring higher and higher with every passing day! And eating is certainly not a luxury that humans can survive without! It is a basic need for every one of us.
It is not an exaggeration to say that some families struggle to afford even the most basic monthly food and grocery bills. Did you know that an average American spends anywhere between $400 to $800 per month just on groceries! (This might vary depending on which part of the world you come from) Clearly, This swallows a significant portion of our earnings.
Wait, don’t worry! I promise that with a few simple hacks, you’ll be able to save a great deal of money every month on groceries without compromising on the quality of your life! Even if you can easily afford to pay for your groceries, I’m sure it wouldn’t hurt to learn how to save a few hundred bucks every month!
And over time, you will be able to save a lot! Maybe even enough for that Europe trip you have been dreaming about for so long! 😉
1. Never go grocery shopping on an empty stomach.
This one golden rule can cut a significant amount off your grocery bill. Though it may seem silly at first, studies have shown that when you’re hungry, you’re likely to buy more things than you actually need! This includes not only the buying of high-calorie, high-fat junk foods but also all other supplies. You are likely to want more of everything when you are hungry!
Have at least a light meal before going to the grocery store. This ensures that you won’t have a growling belly steering your brain to buy all the ice cream, potato chips, and cookies in the store.
2. Prepare a grocery list ahead of time.
Have you ever bought a dozen apples only to conveniently forget that you already have three rotting at home? Not only apples but other things as well. Going grocery shopping without doing a stock check at home is like taking a test without knowing the syllabus! You are destined to fail!
To avoid unnecessary wastage, make sure to always check beforehand what you have or do not have at home. Make a comprehensive list of things you need to buy, and stick to it.
Don’t buy things you already have, thinking you’ll need more later. (Everyone is guilty of this, aren’t they?) Buy them only when you need them.
3. Do not buy something just because it is on sale.
Don’t you get excited when you see sauces on sale and decide to stock up on three bottles? If you feel that you saved a ton of money, think again!
Sauces are perishable, so it’s unlikely that you’ll finish three bottles before they hit the expiry date! You actually ended up wasting extra money buying more than you actually needed in the first place.
This applies to everything like Spices and condiments, fruits and vegetables, sauces, packaged foods, toiletries, and other home essentials. Don’t buy in bulk the things you don’t even want just because they are on sale!
Only buy in bulk when it is wise to do so and only if they have a stable shelf life, such as rice, grains, etc.,
4. Go vocal for local produce.
I’m sure you consider it a boon to be able to purchase fancy and exotic fruits and veggies from halfway around the world. But there are three primary downsides to this. Firstly, they are not fresh since they have come from so far, second is that obviously, they are EXPENSIVE! And finally, large stores and brands often use harmful chemicals to make fruits and veggies look fresh and aesthetic!
Instead, consider buying from your local farmer’s market (You will be surprised by how many great deals you can get). And when buying from stores, buy only fruits and veggies native to your region. They are much healthier, fresher and also CHEAPER!
5. Make meat-free days a frequent thing.
Meat is, without a doubt, quite expensive and accounts for a significant portion of your shopping budget. Cutting off meat from your diet for even just two or three days a week could save you a substantial amount of money.
Don’t worry! It isn’t that hard, and vegetarian or plant-based food is just as tasty! On the bright side, you are also helping combat the global climate crisis! Meat has a considerably higher carbon footprint in comparison to grains and veggies. So, cutting down meat consumption helps save the earth and the money in your wallet!
6. Examine the cost per unit or cost by weight.
Often you may be tempted to choose one product over another just because it is less expensive. Consider the following scenario. There are two types of bread loaves. The first is $3, while the second is $4. You may believe that purchasing the less expensive option is the best choice. But when you glance at the labels, you realize that the $3 loaf weighs one pound while the $4 loaf weighs 1.5 pounds (which roughs out to about $2.66 a pound). Now think again. Which one is more economical? $3 for a pound or $2.66?
Multipacks, jumbo packs, and combos have the same logic. Before you buy them, assuming they are cheaper, make sure you check the price per unit. Consumers are frequently tricked into buying jumbo packs and multipacks at higher costs when small quantities or single units are available for considerably lesser prices. Remember! Buying in bulk need not always be cheap. So it is a good idea to check unit prices before buying.
7. Do not forget to skim the top and bottom shelves on the aisles.
Stores frequently employ their finest marketing techniques to trick us without our knowledge. This next tip will ensure you are not the one being duped!
Stores keep the most expensive items, or those with the highest profit margins, right in front of you. This is so that you’ll see them first, and naturally! Purchase them! Middle shelves are easier to spot and reach, so they generally hold the most expensive items. If you look on the harder-to-reach shelves, you’ll usually find good products at a fantastic price!
8. Double-check the expiry dates before you buy anything.
Whenever you buy anything perishable, make sure to check its expiry dates. Buy things with the farthest expiry dates so that you have enough buffer time to finish them before they go bad.
That being said, don’t obsess over expiration dates every single time. Sometimes, use your common sense as well. Rice, grains, honey, vinegar, and many other foods do not have a hard and fast expiry date if stored properly. Use your sense of smell and eyesight to check if they have spoilt or not. I am sure you can find out!
9. Don’t get too caught up with brands.
If you aren’t brand crazy and you have not pledged your lifelong loyalty to a particular brand, then consider trying generic or in-store brand products. They’re also of excellent quality; the only thing lacking is the fancy brand packaging!
You will get the same quality products at a much lesser price! Now that is a steal deal, isn’t it! This can save you a ton of money! Because you’re only paying for the goods that you truly require rather than the glitzy packaging!
Also, try to shop at different grocery stores rather than sticking to the one you typically go to. Explore various options to see where you can get the best deals or where offers are currently running before committing to one store.
10. Buy only seasonal produce.
Educate yourself about what fruits and veggies are in season currently and buy only those. They are usually priced lower than off-season produce, plus they are fresh!
This also ensures that you consume food that has not been treated with chemicals to make them last long enough to be sold off-season. This is why local markets are best to go to, as they only have seasonal fruits and veggies!
11. Use proper storage techniques.
We often create unnecessary wastage because we don’t store things properly. Using the appropriate jars and containers to store your consumables can ensure that they last longer and do not spoil.
As I previously stated, certain items like rice do not have set expiration dates. If stored properly, they last a very long time! Learn about the different types of food and how they should be stored. The same applies to toiletries and other cleaning products. Look on the packaging for proper storage instructions.
12. Make a meal plan in advance.
This is so that you’ll precisely know what you need when you go grocery shopping, and you won’t spend money on items you won’t need until next month!
Purchasing perishable products that you will not use within the next several days is a guaranteed way to waste food and money!
13. Grow your own food. I believe everybody has a hidden green thumb!
This is by far one of my favorite techniques and a huge money saver! Don’t worry, I am not asking you to grow everything you eat! (Though that would be great, wouldn’t it?) It does not matter if you do not have a huge backyard! You can start with whatever small space you have. Even if it is a tiny little balcony.
Begin by growing simple herbs that you use daily like mint, basil, cilantro, lemongrass, etc. This will cut down your expenses, and you also have farm-fresh herbs now! If you have the space, then, by all means, you can grow much more like peppers, tomatoes, and other veggies and fruits. As a bonus, growing your food is a fun family activity!
14. Become a rewards ninja!
Use every single tool available at your disposal to save as much money as possible. Cashbacks and coupons are now your best friends!
Usually, credit cards offer cash backs or loyalty points at select stores with whom they have a tie-up. Know about what benefits your card provides. Enroll in loyalty programs at your preferred grocery store to help you get excellent deals and offers.
Also, there are apps available that reward you for shopping, like Ebates and Fetch rewards! Make the most of such apps.
15. Keep an eye on your cart total.
When shopping, use a phone calculator or mental estimates to sum your approximate bill so that you do not overspend or exceed your budget. If you find you are over your budget, you can put back something you do not necessarily need.
Using smaller carts while shopping helps limit your buying to only essential things as they fill up pretty quickly and make you feel like you’ve shopped a lot.
16. Find the balance between frugality and extravagance.
I know. Living a frugal life is not something that everyone likes. (But I love it for some reason! Call me a cheapskate if you wish 😉) But it’s not always easy to afford a luxurious lifestyle, always (You will be able to in the near future, I believe in you!)
What I would recommend is finding the right balance between both. That way, you can save up for what is more essential. Like maybe education, your dream home, and so on.
When shopping, think if you really need what you are buying. Are exotic gourmet desserts more important than your education or dream vacation? Choose wisely. This isn’t to suggest you should never splurge on pricey items! It’s okay to do so once in a while, but eating out at high-end restaurants and shopping for branded groceries regularly, will quickly drain your funds. Know the difference between expensive and ridiculously overpriced! Besides, simple home-cooked meals are always healthier!
17. Bonus grocery shopping tips
A few extra pointers for my favorite community!
- Always, always, always carry your own bags. You do not want to end up paying for highly overpriced carry bags at the store! Plus plastic is harmful to the environment! Do your bit for the environment and Bring Your Own cloth Bags.
- As far as possible, reduce the consumption of all forms of packaged food. They are not only unhealthy but are also detrimental to nature. And they come in wasteful packaging! Opt for wholesome fruits and veggies instead. They are cheaper and healthier in the long run.
- Shop less frequently. More shopping means more snacks means extra bucks!
- Thoroughly check fruits and vegetables for any rot or spoilage before buying them.
- Keep the bill until your next grocery shopping trip. This way, if you accidentally buy something that has expired or spoilt, you can always consider returning it.
- Do not waste food. Empty those jam jars and sauce bottles well before buying the next one! This applies to all other food as well.
That’s all for this post folks. Leave a comment below and tell us about some grocery-saving tips and tactics you’ve discovered over time. If you want to learn more about how you can slash all your food expenses in general, check out this article on food budgeting here.