One financial topic covered on virtually every personal finance blog is how to save money at the grocery store.
That makes complete sense since it is where we spent a good chunk of our money each month. It also happens to be an area where you have the potential to save a lot of money. If you’re not careful you could be wasting a lot of money on grocery shopping each week.
Think about how that adds up over the course of a full year.
No Meal Planning
I don’t know about you, but I am nowhere near organized enough to plan out my meals each week. In my opinion that strategy actually backfires. Grocery stores are constantly adjusting pricing in an attempt to attract customers with some good deals while sneaking in higher pricing on other products. So if you go into a grocery store with a very specific list, there is a good chance that you’re going to overpay on something.
Instead I prefer to go to a grocery store with an open mind. I admit some nights I will be craving something specific, but beyond that I focus my grocery shopping around what is priced low that day. If something is particularly cheap and nonperishable I will stock up a bit. For example, I go down the cereal aisle every single time, even if I have plenty in the cupboard. Sometimes I won’t buy any, but other times one of my favorites will be very cheap that day.
Avoiding Food Waste
I’m sure most of us have gone shopping on an empty stomach and ended up buying way more than necessary. If that includes any fruits, vegetables or other perishables, that is a recipe for food waste. Unless you’re vegetarian, some of that stuff will go bad. That’s just throwing away money.
To combat food waste, develop an obsession with not wasting food. Learn to keep in mind what in the fridge is going bad soon and find ways to fit that into upcoming meals. Also learn the best ways to store different types of food. If you find certain foods are always going bad before using them up, consider buying less quantity, freezing some or finding different meals to use it in.
Appreciating Food Costs
This is where I wasted the most money in the past. When you’re not watching prices, you end up splurging on a lot of the foods that cost more. Do you really need steak and pricey seafood every week? Wouldn’t chicken, pork, pasta or cheaper seafood be pretty tasty too? Do you really need the most expensive brands?
If you’re especially concerned with saving money on groceries, you can mix in some super cheap meals each week. Don’t live off of macaroni cheese or ramen noodles, but there’s nothing wrong with having it once or twice per week. This could also include large meals that will make leftovers such as a big pot of spaghetti.
When you start watching food prices more closely you can also notice when prices in the grocery store are higher than usual or are a particularly good deal.
Taking Advantage of Specialty Stores
In the city I live in there are a lot of small Asian produce stores. Whenever I go there I end up with a bag full of good quality produce all for under $10. A lot of the items are a fraction of the price at the big chain grocery stores.
Depending on where you live there might be a cheaper seafood specialty store or maybe a farm you can buy directly from. Just because the chain store is bigger, you shouldn’t automatically assume it has lower pricing. You should figure out which local chain store has the best pricing on other items though.
So saving money at the grocery store doesn’t have to be complicated. Very simple tips can add up to big savings. As you get in the habit of using these strategies, try mixing in coupons or even smart phone apps. Start out with the simple strategies though. Then you can save money without wasting a lot of time and getting overwhelmed.
To help with your grocery budget, I am co-hosting a $100 giveaway (via PayPal or Amazon gift card). This giveaway runs from December 3rd to 15th 2012. To enter please refer to the widget below:
This giveaway was kindly put together by Jeffrey from SavingAdvice.com. If you have your own blog, you can take part in future giveaways by clicking here.