by Susan Paige
Whether you’re shopping for yourself or your family, you’ll want to buy the best quality food possible.
But groceries can be expensive! Depending on your spending habits, food might be one of your biggest monthly household expenses.
If you’re wondering how to spend less on groceries without compromising on nutrition or taste, this article is for you.
We’ll hook you up with seven simple ways to save money on food, plus our top tips to keep in mind while you shop. Stick to this guide, and you’re guaranteed to see a difference next time you’re at the cash register.
7 Ways to Save Money on Food
If you’re serious about saving money, preparedness is key. While you’ll likely find it difficult to make multiple changes at the same time, all of these tips can be slowly converted into good habits.
Once you make these strategies a part of your regular shopping routine, the savings will happen naturally.
1. Set a Budget
When it comes to saving money at the grocery store, our top tip is to establish a monthly budget and stick to it!
If you aren’t sure how much you should set aside for your food budget, start by keeping track of your spending for a few weeks. This will help you identify areas of overspending and change any bad habits you might observe.
Keep in mind that setting a budget is a waste of time if you don’t stick to it. Use a calculator or written list of prices while you shop, to help yourself stay on track.
2. Plan Your Meals
Planning the majority of your meals will help you keep an organized pantry, minimize waste, and save money.
Most people don’t have time to plan everything they eat ahead of time. But, having five or more meals a week planned out will help you buy the ingredients that you need, and skip the ones that you don’t.
Meal planning also helps curb random snacking, which can take a toll on your budget. Convenience foods are usually the most expensive and the easiest to fall back on if you find yourself without a plan.
If you’re trying to curb spending, plan a few budget meals every week. Meatless Monday and breakfast for dinner are two great ways to enjoy a delicious, home-cooked meal that won’t break the bank.
3. Stick to Your List
If you’re food shopping on a budget, you must stick to your list once you’re in the store.
Impulse buying can add up fast, and the “off-list” items you grab will probably be unhealthy splurges. Instead, write a detailed list ahead of time and don’t deviate from the plan.
Once you’ve made your shopping list, take a look at which parts of the store you’ll shop the most. Center aisles are often referred to as calorie traps, and they can blow your budget, too. For the most savings, keep the majority of your shopping focused on the store’s perimeter.
4. Skip Name Brands
You might be accustomed to shopping for high-end brands, but when it comes to food, this is often a total waste of money.
Store brand and generic products often taste and look identical to their name brand counterparts. And, they frequently cost a fraction of the price. The only real difference is in their packaging.
Name brand foods are often displayed at eye level in the grocery store. This is no coincidence. Shopping the bottom shelves will help you steer clear of unnecessary spending without compromising on nutrition, taste, or quality.
5. Clip Coupons
These days, you won’t see nearly as many coupons in magazines, mailers, or newspapers. But, that doesn’t mean the savings have stopped.
Many stores offer printable coupons on their websites or provide downloadable apps to help you manage your savings. And, if you’re planning to shop the center aisles, some major brands like Pillsbury, Betty Crocker, and Kellogs offer discounts on their websites.
Rebates are also helpful for saving money on groceries. Different types of rebates include cash back at the register, mailed reimbursement, and free products in the future.
But, these options only help you save money if you remember to claim your rebate! Many shoppers forget all about their savings, and grocery stores are happy to take advantage.
6. Compare Stores
Have you been shopping in the same store for years? If so, you might be missing out on significant savings across town.
Most of us are creatures of habit, but it’s essential to mix up your routine from time to time. This is especially true if you have discount shopping options like bulk stores and farmer’s markets in your area.
Keep in mind that you aren’t likely to find one store that is all around cheaper than another. It’s much more likely that you will find specific products to be more affordable, depending on where you buy them.
7. Never Shop Hungry
Going to the grocery store with a rumble in your stomach is a sure-fire way to lose track of your spending. Everything looks appealing when you’re hungry, especially expensive center aisle items.
Fill up on something healthy like fruit before you leave home to help yourself avoid temptation. And, even if you feel a bit of an appetite coming on, don’t deviate from your list!
Shopping on an empty stomach won’t just blow your budget. It’ll trash your diet, too. Studies have shown that hungry shoppers buy more calorie-dense foods than those who shop feeling full and satisfied.
A Little Planning Can Save You A Lot of Money
Now that you’re familiar with some different ways to save money on food, you’re ready to put them to good use.
Remember, you’ll want to plan and prepare before you get to the grocery store. Leaving your budgeting and list writing for the last minute just won’t work.
Only you can ensure that things go according to plan. Even if you feel tempted while you shop, stick to your budget and list for the best results.
If you’re interested in more tips on how to reduce grocery bills, check out our other blog posts and articles. We’re here to help with tons of helpful advice to help you budget and shop like a pro.
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