If you have a family, grocery shopping is probably one of your top two weekly expenses, right behind your rent or mortgage. But the good news is that, unlike some bills, you have a strong measure of control over the size of your grocery bill. There are ways to save money on groceries and to take a big chunk out of your food budget.
1. Set a budget and stick to it!
One of the tactics that I found to work best is to set a budget before you even go shopping, and stick to it no matter what. That will prevent over-buying, impulse purchases and the potential to buy too much of a single item simply because it’s on sale.
2. Have a shopping list and a calculator if need be.
In order to stay within a predetermined budget, it helps to have a list. On the list, you know exactly what you need – and just as important – what you don’t need. By sticking with your list, you have a better chance to avoid overspending. But a list does something else that is also critical: it allows you to prioritise your purchases.
3. Never go shopping when you’re hungry.
This recommendation is virtually standard issue on any article dealing with grocery shopping, but it’s worth repeating. If you’re hungry, not only are you likely to buy more than you would otherwise, but you’re also more likely to buy impulse items. And impulse purchases are typically more expensive than other options.
4. Always shop alone.
Some people prefer to have an “assistant” – usually one of the children – accompany them on grocery shopping trips. While it can sometimes be an advantage to have a helper in tow, it’s important to realise that the helper is also a consumer. That means that they will have their own mind set on what they want and it can spill over into your grocery budget. Chances are you’ll spend less money if you go it alone.
5. Make fewer trips.
One of the very best and most productive grocery shopping strategies is to make as few trips as possible. It’s not just the time you spend and the gas and wear and tear on your car, but the fact that more trips usually results in more money spent.
If you have ever gone to the store to get “just milk and bread,” you know that it never works out that way. You’ll probably add a few odds and ends and spend more than you ever intended. How does that happen? It’s amazing how much you “need” once you walk into a store full of food.
By making fewer trips to the grocery store, you’re cutting out the temptation to buy what you don’t absolutely need.
6. Avoid prepared foods and pretty packaging.
Grocery stores across the country are increasing the amount of shelf space that they dedicate to prepared foods. While these may be convenient, they are hardly a bargain. The more preparation that is involved in any food, the more expensive it will be. They are also unhealthy!
Another warning sign that you’ll pay too much is pretty packaging. As a rule, the more attractively packaged an item is, the more expensive it will be. Food companies and grocery stores know this, and that’s why the products will be so prominently displayed. Pretty packages may mean more eye appeal, but you’re not eating the package. In most cases, the item in the pretty package will taste no better than the cheaper competitor that’s wrapped in cellophane.
7. Pay by debit card.
There’s some debate on this – many people maintain it doesn’t matter whether you pay by debit or credit, but I don’t agree. When you pay by debit card, the money is immediately removed from your budget. When you pay by credit card, – the money isn’t immediately withdrawn from your budget, and the option exists to pay later.
If I don’t necessarily have to pay for something now, then I can easily be fooled into thinking I have got some wiggle room in my budget.
What strategies do you use to save money on groceries? Leave a comment!