Supermarkets sell EVERYTHING these days!
Food (for you and your animals), toys, lottery tickets, cleaning products…
You name it, they sell it. Groceries are one of the largest expenses for a typical household. Is that because food costs have been increasing… or something else? We believe the latter: It’s easier than ever to cut back on your spending at supermarkets, you just need to know the right strategies. Discover the top 5 ways to cut back on your grocery bill… without having to cross any items off your list.
1) The Water Situation
Do you realize how expensive water can be? Bottles of water (when not purchased in bulk) cost around $1 to $2, at least! Now is your chance to save money and the environment at the exact same time.
If you can’t switch to tap water, due to a purification issue, think about getting a water filter. They are inexpensive and give the same great taste as bottled water. Did you know: The reason tap water tastes different than bottled water is because of the natural minerals found in the soil of your local area.
2) You do have a budget, right?
This is one of the harder strategies to implement… and it’s also one of the most important. Do you currently use (and stick to) a grocery budget? Unfortunately, if you aren’t tracking your spending… you won’t know how to improve the situation.
Step 1: Create a budget for your groceries each week… and force yourself to stay within whatever range you choose.
Step 2: Collect and organize store receipts over the course of a month or so.
Step 3: Analyze your receipts.
For the third step, there are a few key areas to focus on. Look for the “you saved X amount today” at the bottom of your receipt (or locate it elsewhere). That’s a great indication of your grocery spending skills. If you see a large number, or see that you saved money on a large variety of products, that means you’ve been buying the right items… the ones on sale.
Similarly, try to notice the most expensive areas on your bill. Sometimes the receipts will do the hard work for you and separate items by category. For instance, a quick look at your receipts will reveal if one type of food is taking up a disproportionate amount of your budget.
3) Make Executive Shopping Decisions
If you want to cut down on unnecessary supermarket spending… that means no more last-minute impulse purchases. Have you noticed that checkout lines are surrounded by magazines, candy, games, and other low-cost items? Those items are placed by the register for a very specific reason: to facilitate impulse buys.
Either build these items into your weekly grocery budget, or cut them out of your spending completely. For the most part, these purchases are the least cost-efficient way to spend your money. (For example, if you want a certain type of gum… purchase it in bulk online. The cost per pack will be massively decreased.)
Remember: You are the boss and YOU make the “executive shopping decisions.” If it means you need to leave the kids at home — because they always want to grab a muffin or candy at the store — then so be it. In a very similar way, make sure you never shop hungry… it will only make you overspend in all the wrong places.
4) Make Snack Portions
Just like the “impulse buy” example above, oftentimes it’s the little purchases that have big consequences.
One example of this is snacks. Snack portions are great because they are individually sized and perfect for grabbing on the go. But they also cost more… a lot more. Snack portions (and smaller portions in general) tend to come at a price. It’s safe to assume that a snack-sized version of any product can be up to 3.5x more expensive. (Source)
So how do you combat the threat of ever-increasing prices on snacks? Make them yourself.
Just buy the largest (or most cost-effective) portion of the snack you want. Then divide the food into as many individual sandwich bags as you’d like. This way, you can even control the portion size
Similarly, don’t EVER go for frozen meals or to-go portions. Normally, individually-sold frozen meals are very expensive compared to normal groceries. If you are seriously trying to cut down on spending, take the time to prepare food yourself. It’s healthier and tastier, because you’re such a good chef!
5) Create A Family Menu
A powerful yet uncommon money-saving trick: Make a family dinner menu ahead of time.
If you can find the time, decide what you’re going to make for dinner a week in advance. This allows you to plan food choices around what’s on sale, or what you have saved in the freezer. This is a win-win because you don’t have to stress about choosing an original meal every night, and the rest of the family gets to know what’s in store for the entire week. (Now you don’t have to deal with the never-ending, “What’re we having for dinner tonight?” inquiries.)
We couldn’t leave you with just 5 strategies.
Here are a few more quick-tips and tricks to help you save at the market:
- Keep a price book – Stay on top of grocery store prices, and know what an item should cost.
- Know exactly when your food expires & be diligent about freezing left-overs before they go bad
- Simplify your recipes – Up for a challenge? Try to remix an old recipe to be more cost-efficient and tastier… at the same time!
- Grow your own spices – Spices are extremely expensive… and it’s really easy to start your own miniature garden.
- Shop at farmers markets – Great food without the outrageous price tags.
- Store brand products – Often, store brand products are made with the exact same ingredients as name-brand ones.
As you can see, saving money at the supermarket is easier than it looks… and it definitely does not need to be stressful. What’s your favorite new grocery-store saving strategy? How (and when) are you going to put them into action?