Grocery money is a part of everyone’s budget, and it’s clearly one of the most important. Many people think that coupon clipping is the easiest way to save money at the supermarket. But, most of the time, coupons are a marketing gimmick that look out only for the the product, not the consumer. Here are 10 ways to save money on groceries without having to get out your scissors.
1) Plan your meals
If you’re strapped for cash, this is essential. Planning your meals for the week lets you know exactly what you need and helps you to avoid purchasing the “maybe I’ll need this” extras. So much of the food we buy ends up sitting in our kitchens until it’s a month expired anyway. Start by being proactive and making weekly grocery lists.
2) Check the unit price
This fine print written next to the sale price usually goes unnoticed by even the most enthusiastic shoppers. But this tiny number reveals how much per ounce you’re actually paying for. A lot of times, the seemingly cheaper product cheats you on the amount you get.
3) Check the print ads for the right store
Don’t waste your precious gas driving around from store to store looking for the best deals. Rather than take the stores’ mailers directly from the mailbox to the wastebasket, thumb through their weekly ads to determine who has the best prices.
4) Join a customer loyalty program
We agree that these things are annoying, especially when the cashier asks the person in front of you if they’d like to fill out a lengthy enrollment form while you’re waiting with your frozen items melting away on the conveyer belt. But many these programs can grant instant rebates or money-off-your-next-purchase rewards. And they’re free to join. They also give you printed targeted coupons (okay, even we can bend a little bit) based on your purchases. If the store features a fuel station, this also helps you to save on gas if you earn enough rewards points.
5) Buy bulk
Remembering unit prices, buying items in bulk always saves you money. This is especially true on non-food items such as paper towels, toilet paper, light bulbs, etc. Costco and Sam’s Club are among the most popular wholesale retailers . If you can’t afford the annual membership fee, see if you can buy your groceries through a friend or loved one who holds a membership.
6) Buy generic
Let’s face it, there are some brands that we all love and can’t live without. On the other hand, is there a particular reason that the store brand potato chips are inferior to every single brand of chips out there? You’re pretty much paying the extra markup for the label. Even a few slight modifications to just some of the name brand goods in your shopping cart can add up to several dollars at the register.
7) There’s an app for that
If you have a smartphone, use it to your every advantage. Install a barcode app that can retrieve the price for an item from several nearby locations. Of course, you’ll already have to have the particular item handy, but next time you’re running low on Oreo cookies, give it a try. If you follow step one, this step can be somewhat fun.
8) Buy clearance
This one might sound terrifying, but it’s actually pretty practical. If you have an upcoming meal planned (which you should), check out your market’s clearance section to see if any of the items will work for you. Even the meat section will sell their meats at discounted prices for products nearing expiration. Remember, “nearing expiration” means it’s still perfectly good.
9) Buy less packaged foods
Other than some notable frozen exceptions (fruits and vegetables), buying raw materials, such as meats, eggs, beans, rice, cheeses, etc. to make a quality meal from scratch is always cheaper than buying the pre-prepared meal in a box. Not only is this healthier for you, but it’s also healthier for your bank account. This way, you’re not paying for all that prep work and pretty packaging.
10) Always check your receipt before you drive away
Even electronics can make mistakes—billions of dollars worth every year (roughly $2.5 billion to give you a better idea). Many times, you’ve been charged twice for something or you didn’t receive the sale price. Sadly, it happens more than we know.
Have any other ideas on how to save money on groceries? Let us know.