Back in the good old days shoppers could walk into a supermarket and simply buy whatever took their fancy without once thinking about their pocketbooks. I can remember my dad coming home with a dozen or more bags of groceries for under $100! Those times are long gone and if you want to save money on groceries today you will definitely have to do some thinking!
Shoppers on a fixed individual or family budget need a proven system for shopping that gives them total control over rising grocery prices. Below I discuss a few of the ways you can save money on groceries each and every time you shop. If you plan this right, you will end up actually enjoying your new and improved grocery shopping experience.
One way to save money on groceries is to never shop when you are in a hurry or hungry. When I’m in a hurry, I usually forget my list and forget to buy what I need or all that I need; and when I’m hungry I always seem to head for the deli counter first or buy perishables that I know from experience I’ll never use.
Shop monthly for long shelf-life items and only weekly or biweekly for perishables. Never shop daily. This tip will definitely help you to save money on groceries because it forces you to stop buying on impulse and allows you to buy in larger quantities which generally costs less.
Always plan what you need to buy in advance of shopping. Once you get used to the idea of planning ahead it will become easier and turn into a good habit that will be very hard to break.
Planning means you will need to prepare a menu which should include breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and beverages. You are going to be making meals from scratch but this is cheaper and healthier than eating prepared food or dining out. So if you’ve never had to stick to a menu before now is the time to learn.
One of my favorite tricks to save money on groceries is to eat something simple and easy to fix every other day, like a macaroni or cheese dinner with sliced chicken wieners; or baked beans with an egg on top and a bowl of rice with a side of vegetables.
You will also need a detailed shopping list that contains all the ingredients to be used in your menu. This list should not only include food stuffs but other essentials as well. Don’t forget things like tin foil, toilet paper, laundry detergent, soap and toothpaste, cleaning sprays and scouring pads, garbage bags, etc.. Take this list with you when you shop.
Save money on groceries by checking the Wednesday shopping flyers, circulars, inserts or ads. Stock up on items that you may be able to include in your monthly menu (which is always adaptable). Use a few coupons each time you shop but not all at once. Save the rest for future shopping trips. In this case you need to remember to take coupon expiration dates into account.
Supermarkets often advertise great discounts and/or offer coupons every six to eight weeks, especially during special holidays throughout the year. I have seen soda pop go from $2.99 for a large bottle down to $0.99 just because it’s July!
Get to know your supermarket intimately. Always take some extra time to learn the store layout and where everything is before you shop. This includes corners or discount racks, etc.. Know what’s typically guaranteed to be available to buy anytime of the year, and what the prices are compared to the competition.
Keep an updated pricebook with you for this purpose (which obviously starts out blank). Learn where the store flyers are kept (usually on a rack as you enter the store). Something I learned about my own local supermarket is that the fresher perishables, like milk, are kept hidden from view at the back of a bin or rack.
Save money on groceries by shopping at budget friendly stores like Walmart and Costco; or local dollar stores and liquidation outlets. Seriously, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten great deals on spices, ramen noodles, chocolate bars, canned foods, garbage bags and various soaps or detergents by going to these places.
Work out the per unit price of any item you buy as you go. If you can save money on groceries by purchasing a smaller or larger quantity of an item then do so. Buying in bulk will also save money on groceries over time, so look at your list and determine how much savings can be realized there.
Take a handheld calculator and notebook along with you for this purpose. Don’t forget the pen. Take a pair of reading glasses along too because we all know how small the labelling can be on many store items.
Always be on the lookout for discounted produce, meats or other items to help save money on groceries. Avoid prepared foods unless they happen to be cheaper than a similar item already on your list. Buy non-brand named items because they are always cheaper and just as good as the regular better known brands. Seasonal fruits and vegetables tend to be less expensive as well.
Pay with cash or at least a low rate credit card. Watch the cashiers like a hawk and double-check your receipts before leaving the store. Trust me. This is important. I had been overcharged or double-charged dozens of times before this tip finally kicked in.
Here is a recap of what to take with you as you shop: a detailed shopping list based on your menu, a handheld calculator, notebook, pen, reading glasses, updated pricebook, store flyers, coupons, and an ordered list of the different stores you are going to be shopping at.