6 Easy Ways to Save Money on Groceries
Food is king
Food. It nourishes us, plays a special part in gatherings with family and friends, and enriches our everyday lives.
Unfortunately, it can also strain our wallets. According to a recent USDA report , the average family of 4 spends about $932 a month on groceries. Ouch!
If you’re looking for ways to reduce monthly expenses, you could cancel the carwash membership or skip the nail salon. But you can’t cut out food. You can get smarter about how you buy groceries, though.
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Ready for some easy ways to save money on groceries? Let’s jump right in.
1. Use What’s on Hand
Instead of running to the store for ingredients when you get an impulse to make something, stop and survey the pantry, fridge drawers, and freezer. What’s already there that can be used?
Be open-minded and creative. What about those cans of beans and the hamburger you froze last week? Chili, anyone?
Also, don’t let food go to waste. Use the squash before it goes bad. Slice the watermelon and put it in a container so everyone can easily grab slices on the go. Not enough of last night’s roast and baked potatoes for a full leftover meal? Cut up what’s left and simmer in a pot with frozen veggies and broth. Now you’ve got a hearty soup.
2. Plan Ahead and Only Buy Items on Your List
Before you shop, clean out the fridge and pantry, check expiration dates, take stock of what you have, and make a list of what you’re out of. Don’t rely on memory- write it down. Keep a notepad in the kitchen. It helps to have a running list during the week.
Also, decide what snacks and meals you’ll eat from now until you go to the store next. Make a list of all ingredients. Take your time and check it over thoroughly. Then, when you’re at the store, only buy items on the list. This may mean leaving the kids at home or doing curbside pick-up, because, well, you know how tempting those bakery items can be.
As you push the cart up and down the aisles, you’ll know exactly what you need to buy. No impulse buying, no added costs.
3. Rethink Dinner
Dinner tends to be the biggest meal of the day. But it doesn’t have to be. Don’t worry, I’m not going to tell you to give up the meatloaf with mashed potatoes and gravy, steamed broccoli, and brownies for dessert.
At least not entirely…
Just be willing to scale down some nights. Try sandwiches- scrambled egg, BLT, grilled cheese. Cook breakfast foods- pancakes with sausage links. Go meatless- bean and cheese burritos, pasta with marinara, lentil soup.
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4. Compare Prices at Different Stores
When was the last time you tried a new grocery store? I know, habits are hard to break. We tend to stick to the store nearest our house, the one with the friendly checkers, or the one that carries our favorite coffee creamer.
If you’re not sure how your store’s prices compare to others, do some research. See if there’s another store with better deals. Consider farmer’s markets, discount stores, roadside stands, and local ranchers.
You may end up going to one place for produce and meat and another for pantry items. Or, you might use a few stores.
5. Try Unit Pricing
Pay attention to what things cost per unit. The best value is the product for the lowest price per unit.
Many stores have the unit price on the shelf display label. But you can quickly calculate too. Just divide the total price by the unit weight or number (ounces, pounds, items in the box).
Let’s compare tomato soup. Can #1 is $3.69 and contains 19 ounces. That’s $.19 per ounce. Can #2 is $2.99 and contains 10.5 ounces. That’s $.28 per ounce. The first can is the better deal.
6. Consider Buying in Bulk
This isn’t for everyone, but if it fits your circumstances, try buying in bulk from wholesale stores like Costco and Sam’s Club.
Focus on the items you use a lot that won’t go bad quickly. Pasta, flour, cereal, beans, and rice. Also, paper towels, shampoo, toothpaste, and razor blades.
Consider putting up shelves in the basement or purchasing a freezer for the garage for stockpiling. Meat can be separated into Ziplocs and frozen until you’re ready. Do the same for bread, cheese (yes, you can freeze cheese!), and frozen veggies.
Buying food the smart way saves money
You can buy the food you love and save money on groceries when you shop smarter. Figure out what works for you. Start with one of these tips and then try another next week or month. Taking control of the grocery bill feels great.
Cheers to savory food and savings!
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