Featured Image: @Joandkemp
Article By: Defeating Normal
In today’s world, the costs of things seem to keep going up and up while wages for many are remaining stagnant. In times like these, it is essential to save money where we can get so that we have a better balanced financial life. For many people, the grocery bill can be a huge budget buster. The good thing is that there are ways you can save money so that you can have more in your pocket for other things. Here are ten things that you can do to help cut down the grocery bill.
1. Shop Seasonally
Just like clothes and home decor, groceries have their season as well. Fruits and vegetables that are in season are less expensive than those that are not. For example, apples and potatoes are in season from mid-summer to late-fall and herbs, and greenhouse tomatoes are in season from April to October. Planning your meals with items that are in season can be more comfortable on the wallet.
2. Make a Meal Plan & Grocery List Before Hand
To save money, use ingredients in multiple ways and with different recipes. For instance, chicken is a very versatile food. When planning to purchase it, come up with two or three meals it can be turned in to. Having a list already made before stepping into the store helps to curb impulses purchases as well.
I recommend trying the $5 Meal Plan to get you started on eating at home more and planning your meals. For just $5 per month, you will receive a delicious meal plan, where every meal will cost around $2 per person. It’s a great way to save money and lots of time, they also offer specialty plans, including gluten-free meals and vegetarian meals.
3. Utilize Loyalty Program
Many stores have a loyalty program that you can sign up for that allows you to get discounted pricing. An additional perk of some of these programs is that you may get more coupons via mail or email so that you can save even more. Also, these programs sometimes have special promotions. For instance at my local grocery store, sometimes I get coupons for $20 off my grocery bill when I fill a new prescription. Another great way to maximize this option is to use multiple accounts. Many stores create your loyalty account using your phone number. You can then use various numbers for various accounts. At my local grocery store, my wife and I each have an account to help increase the savings.
4. Buy in Bulk
When your favorite foods with a long shelf life are on sale, buy in bulk. When I see a great deal on long shelf life items, I love to stock up. Great items to watch for to do this are canned items, rice and cereal (my wife once got a deal on cereal and purchased 12 boxes for less than $2 total) If you have a lot of freezer space, this is an excellent idea for meats and frozen veggies too.
Oh, the beloved couponing! It can take some time, but can be well worth it! This method of saving has been around for such a long time and has kept up with the digital age. In addition to the traditional paper coupons that come in the weekly newspaper and the mail, coupons can be found online and in apps on your cell phone. Depending on your location and the store, some coupons are doubled! Also, many people don’t realize that you can use multiple coupons for multiple items. For instance, if you have two coupons for $1 off a loaf of bread, the store may not allow you to take $2 off the one loaf, but you can buy two loaves and get $1 off each.
6. Compare Prices at Your Local Stores
If your town has multiple grocery stores, it may be beneficial to compare prices. Sometimes shopping numerous stores can save you money. For instance, there is a store by me that always has great deals on meat, but their produce is a bit pricey. Luckily, there is another store just a mile away that has excellent deals on produce. Shopping both helps me to save all around.
7. Cook What is in Your Pantry/Fridge
Multiple meals can be made from the same items, especially when you buy in bulk. When making your grocery list, check to see what you have on hand first so that you only purchase the necessary items to complete the meal. Sometimes this can require a little creativity. One of my favorite “use it up “meals is soup. Have veggies that need to be used up? Leftover chicken in the fridge? Have a few spices on hand? Throw it all together in a pot, and voila, you have a delicious soup without having to buy anything new. Depending on how much you have, this may be able to be used for multiple meals. (My favorite lunch to take to work is leftovers from the night before).
8. Utilize Store Promotions
Many stores offer some great promotions for products as well as gift cards. Although these promotions may not come up all the time, if used, you can save money on things you were going to buy anyway. I like to take advantage of this by purchasing a gift card for another purchase I will be making that same day.
Here is how this works: If your grocery store has a promotion on gift cards, let’s say you have to by $50 in gift cards and you get $10 off your next shopping trip, buy $50 in gift cards for that particular store. Purchase the gift cards first and then, in a separate transaction, purchase your groceries. You can then apply the $10 off to your grocery total and also use the $50 gift card that you just purchased (you would have spent that money anyway, right?). Sure, it is a bit more work, but it pays off…literally.
9. Minimize or Eliminate Shopping at Specialty Markets
Specialty markets do have some delicious foods that may be hard to find other places. They also do come up with some great prepared dishes that look tremendously appetizing. These plates can, however, come at a high cost. In order to save money, minimize or eliminate trips to these types of stores. You can probably still find quality foods at your local grocery store. Also, when you do your shopping, consider a no-frills shop (such as Aldi).
10. Buy Store Brands
This idea is one we do hear a lot, but it is undoubtedly a great way to save. Unless you are couponing or there is a significant sale, the generic brand is almost always cheaper. Also, a lot of the time the store brand product is produced by the national brand companies. In this case, you are getting the same product for a fraction of the cost.