Groceries are expensive. In fact, Americans spend an average of more than $7,000 on food each year. But that doesn’t mean you have to blow your budget every time you go to the grocery store. There are things you can do to make your grocery store trips a little easier on your wallet.
1. Shop with a list
Have a plan in place before you go to the grocery store. Make a list of the meals you want to eat each day of the week. Then, create a shopping list based on those meals. With a well-organized shopping list, you don’t have to browse every aisle and item in the store. This creates less opportunities for you to buy food items you won’t use or don’t need.
2. Pass on individually packaged items
When you buy individually packaged items, you spend more on packaging and less on the actual food items. Instead, buy larger portions and take an hour each week to split them into smaller portions for your daily meals and snacks.
3. Rethink meal sizes
Instead of buying groceries for a week’s worth of extravagant meals with meat, sides, drinks, and desserts, think simple. Grab a few inexpensive meals to supplement the occasional, thoughtfully prepared dinner. Things like omelets, soups, and sandwiches with fresh fruits and veggies on the side are perfectly adequate dinner options that will also save you money.
4. Go generic
You’re probably aware that buying generic brands can save you money. But did you know that it can save you more than $1,000 per year? Many generic food items like milk, juice, spices, flour, sugar, and produce are nearly identical to their name brand counterparts. In fact, many of them are produced in the exact same facility, giving you practically identical taste and quality.
5. Be careful when buying in bulk
Buying bulk is great for certain commonly-used items like laundry detergent and toiletries. But when you buy perishable items in bulk, the food often ends up spoiling before you can eat it. Even food items you can put in the freezer tend to get thrown out either because of freezer burn or you get tired of eating the same thing over and over again. Before buying bulk, compare the price per unit or price per ounce displayed on the price tags with non-bulk items to get the most out of your food dollars.
6. Be wary of sales
Sometimes sales can save you money on items you already intended to buy. And sometimes they just trick you into buying stuff you don’t really need. Just because an item is on sale doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the cheapest option. Think about whether you really need a sale item before dropping it in your shopping cart. And compare prices with generic alternatives to see which one will save you the most money.
7. Shop on a full stomach
What happens when you shop on an empty stomach? Everything in the grocery store looks delicious and you usually end up buying more than you need or want. Shop after a meal. Or, if the best time to go to the store for you is in between meals, having a quick snack to curb your hunger can help you save a lot of money at the grocery store.
These few simple tricks can add up to big savings at the grocery store over time. Be proactive and mindful about saving money when you shop for food. Your budget and bank account will be better off for your efforts.