Overspending at the supermarket is easy to do, but if you’re on a budget, then you’ll need to know how to save money on groceries.
Check out these 16 tips for cutting back on your weekly grocery bill this week!
1. Make a grocery shopping list
Never go to the grocery store without a list and when you get there, stick to your list. If you rely on your memory, you’ll end up forgetting essential items, which means another trip to the grocery store, and a waste of gas. Not to mention the time wasted on two round trips.
2. Shop once a week
This is where a grocery list is crucial. Plan to shop only once a week. The less you shop, the more you’ll save. You’ll also be less tempted to buy additional items if you reduce your time in the grocery store.
It would be even better if you could go on a weekday after work. Then, you can be sure that it will be a short trip to the supermarket as you would just want to get home as fast as possible. No time to wander and fall into impulse purchases.
3. Use what’s in your pantry
You can save money if you plan your meals around items you already have in your pantry. There’s no point in buying more of something if you’ve already got it. Instead, you can use a website like SuperCook to search for a recipe with the ingredients you already have at home.
4. Keep an eye out for discounts
Buy in bulk at discounted prices, but only for frequently consumed items. If you know you’re going to use it, it makes sense to attempt to save money on food now. Only do this if you have the space to store the items or a large freezer.
5. Buy what’s in season
Similarly, buying produce in season is a lot cheaper than off-season prices. So, for example, when prices are low on berries, buy extra and freeze in ziplock bags to enjoy throughout the year at your leisure. You may also be able to find some great deals at your local farmers’ market.
6. Swap out expensive items
Review your grocery receipt and see if you can swap out a few expensive items for lower-cost alternatives. Doing this each week can add up to significant savings over time. For example, I recently realized I could save a lot of money on frozen poultry rather than buying them fresh. I started saving money after I transitioned into buying frozen poultry and paying $10-15 less than buying them fresh. And they are the same quality!
7. Be wary of bulk discounts
Several items offered for one price might look like a good deal (e.g., 10 for $10), but not if they’re just going to sit in your pantry or perish. Buying in bulk will only save money on groceries for frequently used items, like canned tomatoes or tuna, or products you can freeze.
8. Eat before you shop
Heading to the local grocery store with an empty stomach is a bad idea if you’re trying to keep your grocery budget on track. If you follow any grocery shopping tips, it should be this one. Eat before you grocery shop!
I can’t tell you how many times I convinced myself I’d be making pancakes every morning while grocery shopping, only to have the pancake powder sit in the cupboard and never used. On an empty stomach, your food purchase decisions are skewed.
9. Decrease your aisles
Grocery stores strategically place dairy and produce at opposite ends to force you to pass by all the aisles. But if you head only to the aisles that have the items you need, you are more likely to avoid impulse buys; your grocery trip will also be a lot quicker.
10. Avoid brand names
You’ll pay more for name-brand products with a fancy label, so avoiding these will help you save on groceries. Buying the generic store brand is usually much cheaper, and if it’s the same product, why pay more?
11. Avoid eye-level shelves
Grocery stores stock the priciest items on eye-level shelves because they’re seen first and more easily reached. So look at the higher and lower shelves for cheaper items.
12. Resist prepared meals
Prepared meals are easy to heat and eat, but you’ll pay a lot more than if you cooked it yourself. You can save money on food by cooking more than you need and freezing leftovers. You can easily pop these in the microwave on nights you’re too busy or tired to cook. For example, do you really need to buy that package of chicken fried rice? Just search for the recipe online, cook it yourself in bulk, and freeze it!
13. Grate your own cheese
Grated cheese or pre-cut fresh fruits are convenient, but packaged food like this will cost you a lot more. So why not grate and cut it yourself and save money on groceries?
14. Don’t buy bottled water
It’s free to get water from your faucet, so paying for bottled water doesn’t really make sense. You’re also doing the planet a favor by not buying and disposing of plastic bottles.
15. Use the self-check out stand
Using the self-checkout will help you to save money at the grocery store. This is because the wait time is shorter, and there are usually fewer items available for impulse buys around self-checkout stands.
16. Grow your own herbs
Sure those little bundles of herbs—at $2-plus a pop—are very convenient. But do you ever use them all or throw most of them away? By growing your own herbs in pots or your garden (if you have one), you’ll always have fresh herbs. Your landlord will love that you’re making plans to be a long-term tenant too.
We hope these tips for how to save on groceries come in handy when you’re at the supermarket this week. Happy shopping!
See also: How to Eat Organic on a Budget