If it seems like you’re spending a small fortune on groceries, you very well may be – keeping a stocked kitchen can be a major expense. However, unlike some areas of your budget where you have little control over the cost (your car payment, for example), you can often trim the amount you spend at the supermarket.
Use discount stores right
Love “big box” superstores? Concentrate on products that will never go bad (just take up room), like 12-packs of paper towels, or buy perishables that you know you’ll consume before they turn an odd color or you tire of the taste. Bigger does not always mean better – overbuy and you not only waste food, but money.
Sometimes it pays to leave the kids at home (if you can, and as long as you don’t have to hire a sitter). You won’t be swayed by your little one’s pleading for things you wouldn’t normally pick up, such as toys and sugary goodies. These items are always stocked at perfect eyelevel for children. Also, if you have a crying infant or wiggly toddler in tow, bargain hunting usually takes a back seat to getting in and out fast.
Buy “make your own” food
Convenience does indeed have its price. Sure you can buy virtually any meal pre-made these days, including frozen peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and precooked rice, but you’ll pay a premium. Before purchasing these heat-and-eat items, think about the amount of time and effort it would take to prepare them yourself, and compare the difference in cost.
Say yes to plastic
No, not another credit card, but a supermarket’s discount card. With it you'll get immediate savings on everyday food and household items – just look for advertised deals and swipe the card at checkout. It’s a great way to score those terrific two-for-one deals. If you regularly visit a particular store, the five minutes it takes to complete a one-page application makes sense.
Why not have groceries delivered right to your doorstep? Many supermarkets offer online shopping and delivery service. It can be a timesaver and the cheaper way to shop: you’ll save on gas for the car, and receive instant coupons and website-only specials. Even better, it’s a perfect way to minimize impulse purchases – you won’t be lured to the bakery by the scent of fresh-from-the-oven cookies. Some stores will even waive the delivery fee for large orders.
Finally, shop mindfully. Make a list before you go, buy what you really need, and use coupons to your advantage. Almost everyone can reduce their grocery spending with just a few simple changes.