25 Simple Tips to Save Money on Groceries
We all know that eating out is more expensive than preparing meals at home. But it's easy to fall into the trap of eating out anyway, often because it's quicker and more convenient, and also sometimes because it seems more affordable than laying out a lot of cash at one time for a full food-shopping trip. There are plenty of ways to save money on groceries, though, and they make it easier on the budget to buy food you can make yourself.
It's not only significantly cheaper over the course of the month to prepare most of your food at home; it's also easier to eat healthier this way. For starters, take a look at these budget-friendly healthy foods. Get in the habit of picking up at least several of them every time you go food shopping. Then, follow the advice below on how to save money on groceries, and you shouldn't struggle too much to make the savvier choice to prepare the majority of your meals at home.
How to Save Money on Groceries
- Go on a price-comparing mission. Visit the grocery stores in your area and write down the prices of the 10 or 20 items you purchase most often. This helps you figure out where to do your shopping trips for the lowest cost.
- Cut out coupons and buy sale items. Even if they're not the brand you usually buy, they'll save money on groceries for you.
- But don't buy things just because you have a coupon or they're on sale if you don't really need them.
- And remember, coupons don't only come from newspapers and circulars these days; lots of websites have lots of coupons to download and print. Just Google a coupon website to find plenty of options.
- Ask your grocery store of choice if they accept any competitor coupons, so you don't miss out on any opportunities to save.
- Take advantage of grocery store buy-one-get-one deals. Stock up on non-perishables you know you'll use if there's room in the food budget.
- Don't fall for deals that aren't actually deals. Just because something says "10 for $10," that doesn't mean the cans don't always cost $1 each.
- And remember that when sale items are advertised with something like "3 for $5," you usually don't have to buy three; you can generally get one item at the sale price. Don't buy more than you need, since you'll just be spending extra.
- Plan out the meals you'll make with the groceries you get on each trip, so you know exactly what you do and don't need to buy.
- Make a shopping list before going to the store. You won't forget things and have to go back (and probably buy other stuff), and you won't buy extra items you don't need.
- Only grocery shop once per week. The more trips you make, the more you buy. And this can even save you on gas over time.
- And shop alone - especially without the kids. The more people with you, the more you buy because everyone wants to pick things out.
- Keep track of what you have and use it up. A Google search usually works to give you ideas for ingredients you have lying around in the pantry or freezer. Watch out for fresh produce starting to go bad, too.
- Don't shop when you're hungry. You actually purchase more-and often it's junk food - if you're craving food while buying it.
- Check the unit price or price by weight on price tags. Often, you get a better deal on a larger package. Still, you're spending more, so only buy bigger if you really need it all.
- Skip food packaged in individual servings, as it almost always costs more.
- Go for the generic version over name-brand products.
- Buy frozen fruit and vegetables. It's cheaper than fresh, has the same (or even higher) nutritional value, and lasts much longer, reducing the likelihood of waste.
- When you buy fresh produce, buy what's in season because it's at its lowest price; out-of-season produce is at its peak price.
- Avoid prepared meals, pre-cut fruit or veggies, and similar convenience items. You pay a premium for the convenience, but it really doesn't take long to cut up a piece of fruit yourself.
- Buy meat in bulk and freeze what you don't use right away. Also, if the seafood you're buying from the seafood counter is previously frozen, you can probably find the same thing cheaper in the frozen aisle.
- Look into membership at bulk grocery stores, as these are great places to save money on groceries. Ask a friend, family member, or neighbor about splitting things if you don't use them fast enough to justify buying so much at one time.
- Take a look at your receipt, identify the most expensive items, and find cheaper alternatives (ground turkey instead of ground beef, for example).
- Look at the top and bottom shelves; these are where the lowest-cost items tend to be placed. The products at your eye level (and your kid's) and on end-caps at the end of aisles are generally the highest priced.
- Pay with cash rather than a debit or credit card. People spend less when they're handing over actual cash.