When it comes to saving on groceries, there are about one million ways to go about it. Unfortunately, some of those ideas take time and effort.
So today, I’m going to share my No-Brainer Guide to Saving on Groceries. These are the tips to use when you want to save money on groceries, but lack the time to implement some of the more advanced techniques like couponing or using grocery apps. These are the ideas that, once you get in the habit of doing them become routines that help you save money each and every time you’re at the store.
The No-Brainer Guide to Saving on Groceries
No coupon-clipping, no fancy apps, and no calculator required for these money-saving tips!
Buy less processed foods. Unless there’s an extremely good sale, skip the convenience items. Stick to dried beans instead of canned. Cut and prep your own fruits and veggies. Make your own seasoning mixes. Bake your own breads and make your own pizza dough. Skip the grocery budget busters when you shop.
Buy the store brands. If you’re looking to save money, pick up the store brand items instead of the name brand items and save 30 percent or more on your purchases. Many store brand items come with a money-back guarantee, so you have some recourse if you don’t like a particular store brand, but I’m willing to be that you won’t even notice you’re not eating a namebrand food. And in some cases, you may find you like the store brands more!
Pay attention to the location of items on shelves. The most expensive items are almost always located at eye level, so when you’re grocery shopping, make sure to look high and look low for cheaper items. Don’t forget to check the end-caps at the end of the aisles, as this is where grocery stores often place their top sale items for the week.
Pay attention to the prices. This is really a no-brainer, but when you’re busy it’s easy to get distracted by the signs and not look at the prices. For example, you see a sign that says ground beef is $2.99 a pound, so you load some into your cart. Then when you get home, you see that you actually paid $3.79 a pound because you didn’t buy the exact item that was part of the sale. A simple double check on the prices can save you money.
Buy fruits and veggies in season. Stick to what’s in season and readily available and you will save money on your grocery bill. Buying what’s in season will also encourage you to try new things, rather than just overpaying for the same old boring thing.
Notice how things are sold and plan accordingly. If a fruit or vegetable is sold as a single unit, (like green peppers or squash) buy the biggest one you can find to get the most bang for your buck. If apples are sold by the pound and you want to put one in your kids’ lunches every day, look for the smallest apples to get the most apples per pound.
Buy in bulk when it makes sense. Buying from the bulk spice bin at your grocery store offers a significant savings over buying those little expensive spice jars. Stock up on a good sale when you’ve got plenty of room to store the groceries and will use them up before they go bad.
Watch for special discounted items. Most grocery stores have a scratch-and-dent section that sell items that are still good, but don’t look so pretty in their packages. You can save 25% or more on those items. Visit the meat department to find specials on meat that is at or near its sell-by date for big savings. And don’t forget to check out the produce section for items at or near their price. I love to buy ripe bananas for baking at a fraction of what I would pay for the green bananas.
Eat less meat. Eating less meat, or at the very least, eating cheaper cuts of meat, will reduce your grocery bill. You can stretch your grocery budget with beans.
Don’t buy household goods at the grocery store. You may think you’re saving time by picking up paper goods or household cleaners at the grocery store, but there’s a fairly good chance you’ll pay a lot more for those items. Make a separate trip to a discount store for your household goods or toiletries. (Or make your own and really save!)
Get to know when your grocery store marks things down. Pay attention to the sales cycles at your store and when things like meat or produce are marked down, then shop on those days.
Don’t shop hungry. You will always make expensive impulse buys when you grocery shop hungry. Eat a snack before you go.
Shop alone. This can be a challenge for those of you with children, but it is a huge money-saver if you can find a way to leave your little “helpers” at home. See if you can get a family member or a friend to swap babysitting time with you so that you don’t have to pay a sitter. Shopping alone allows you to stay focused on the task at hand.
Shop with a list. We keep a magnetic notepad on the fridge and everyone knows that if they use something up, they need to write it on the notepad. Then I just tear off the list when I head to the store. Shopping with a plan keeps you from buying things you don’t need. If you forget your list at home, take a minute or two at the store to quickly jot down your list from memory.
And one final tip:
Use it up. The best thing you can do to save money on groceries is to use up what you buy. That means making a plan to use every last bit and eating your leftovers. It may even mean eating items that are a little past their expiration dates. Store what you have properly, and use up what you have before you buy more. Food used is money saved.
Your turn: What are some “no-brainer” ways you save on groceries?