With the current state of the economy, times are tight for a lot of families. One great place to save money is the grocery bill. In many ways, grocery shopping is a bit like stock market. Do your homework, and buy low.
What follows are ten tips to help slash that grocery bill, but still bring home the things we really need with a minimum of time and effort.
Make a list and check it twice. Always make a list and stick to it. Don’t buy anything not on the list. Making the list does have to take a great deal of time. In my home, we keep a pad of paper right next to the refrigerator. As soon as we are out of something (or realize that we are about to run out), we mark it down. It only takes a few seconds, and when it is grocery time, there is no need for a kitchen inventory.
Don’t go to the Grocery Hungry. I’ve made this mistake in the past. The result? Lots of impulse buys, most of which were junk food. It’s not good for the waistline or the family budget, so just don’t do it.
Eat you fruits and Vegetables, but only what is in season. Fruits and vegetables tend to be cheaper pound for pound than process foods, not to mention healthier. The kicker with fruits and vegetables is you need to buy them in season. Now, some vegetables (and fruits as well) tend to store well, and these foods tend to fluctuate less in price through the year. However, short season crops that don’t store well can be extremely expensive in the off season (try buying watermelon in February). Also, check local farmers markets for produce. By cutting out the middleman, you can often save big, while at the same time getting fresher produce.
Try generics and store brands. Generic and store brands are often produced in the same facility as the name brands. But without the advertising overhead, they usually represent a substantial savings over name brands. Checking out the cereal aisle at my local grocery, the store brands tended to be 25-50% cheaper than the name brand equivalent. In most cases, you will not be able to tell a difference in taste or quality between the name brand and store brand.
Check out the Super Saver Aisle. Most groceries have a “Super Saver” or a “Dollar” aisle, full of items that are either marked down, or are low priced store brand items. While you can find some great deals here, be sure you don’t fall for hype. Make sure that what you are buying truly is a great deal.
Change your eating habits. Consider this. For less than the price of a 12 oz. box of a name brand children’s cereal, you can buy a 16 oz. box of store brand corn flakes. And for the price of that box of corn flakes, you can buy about 4 pounds of oatmeal. Those 4 pounds of oatmeal represents a lot more breakfasts that either box of cereal, while at the same time is healthier. Cutting back on meat while substituting eggs or beans is another great cost cutter. Have a few meatless dinners each week; your wallet (and possibly your heart) will thank you.
Check out the Dollar Store. On certain items, your local Dollar Store may be the best bang for the buck. Here in my area, cleaning supplies, laundry detergent, and personal care products are generally pretty cheap at the dollar store. However, not everything at the dollar store is a good value. Just be sure to do your homework and compare prices.
Weigh prepackaged fruits and vegetables. Does that ten pound bag of apples really weigh ten pounds? Use the scales in the produce isle to check just that. Those bags may vary in weight by a pound or more. Make sure that you are getting what you pay for.
Ditch the paper towels and napkins. Ok, so this is my pet peeve, and I realize that a lot of people won’t agree with me on this. I refuse to buy paper towels or paper napkins. It is like throwing money away. For kitchen chores I buy dollar store towels and washcloths (the ones that typically sell six for a dollar), and use them till I wear them out. I also buy cloth napkins. The additional laundry is minimal, and the savings are great.
Realize that the lowest price isn’t always the best deal. Just because something costs less doesn’t mean it is a bargain. Typically, I am willing to spend more money on a low fat ground beef (10% vs. 15 or 20% fat), or a good quality whole grain bread. Make sure that you are getting the “most” from your dollar.
One more bit of advice. After saving at the grocery, don’t blow your savings. If you are in debt, use the saving to help pay off that debt. Otherwise, sock that money away, and make those dollars work FOR you.
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