Even if you’re a coupon master, nothing beats saving even more money at the grocery–especially when you have kids with all different preferences and tastes (not including the spouse). Because the grocery bill can really add up, here are some of the best tips that can help save when buying food that go beyond couponing.
1. Don’t over-estimate how much you need
Though this one might sound like a no-brainer, it’s very easy to over buy and then have food go to waste simply because of over estimating how much you need. Before you head to check-out and whip out that cash (and coupons), take the time to quickly consider how much left-overs there might be versus new food that will just sit there. “A study published by the Marketing Science Institute found that shoppers who made ‘quick trips’ to the store purchased an average of 54 percent more merchandise than they planned,” says Women’s Health Magazine.
In fact, a really good thing to do before even heading out to the grocery, according to CBS Local Boston, is creating weekly meals and snack ideas and then buying accordingly.
2. No shopping on an empty stomach!
In the same vein as not watching the Food Channel on an empty stomach, grocery shopping while you are hungry is a big no-no. When you’re hungry and everything in the store is looking pretty good to eat, there is going to be an impulse to buy more and over spend. Instead, eat before you go to the grocery and have a full stomach while shopping.
3. Store brands for the necessities
There’s nothing wrong with store brands, sometimes they are even processed at the same place as the name-brand food! If you want to cut corners, start going store brand with the necessities like butter, milk, bread, and even some grocery stores are starting to provide their very own gluten-free or organic products.
4. Keep it healthy without the big price tag
A good rule of thumb when it comes to finding healthier alternatives for foods and keeping on budget is simply looking at the labels. First, how long is the ingredient list? If you’re seeing names that look like they belong in medical textbooks compared to the other brand which have simple ingredients (water, flour, sugar, etc.) and isn’t longer than your own grocery list, then go with the latter.
5. Become loyal with a store
Besides the loyalty card program with a grocery store, stick to shopping to one location or with a certain grocery chain. That way, you will learn and know the layout of the store and can get in, get out without over spending on products at the end of aisles or other distractions that can really add up.
6. Saving on fresh produce and proteins
Two things that will really add up is meat and produce, but they can be less of a strain on your wallet by some strategic planning with produce sales and marked down meats. To effectively use your coupons, try to plan to go to the grocery store during their big produce sales and purchase most produce that is in season.
With meats and seafood, there will always be discounted meat within the deli area that is still fresh and can be frozen to keep for later meals. Another great investment to keep meats longer is a food sealer.
7. Try to shop without the kids as much as possible
It might sound like an impossible feat (especially during the summer), but grocery shopping without the kids will save you on money and avoid impulse buys with all of those snacks at the kids’ eye level. Some grocery stores are open late during the weeknights, so when the kids are asleep, there is always the option of doing some night shopping and beating the after work rush.
8. Avoid wandering aimlessly when shopping
Always have a list, know the layout, and try not to wander! All of those displays at the end of aisles are begging to be found by wanderers just browsing around to do impulse buys and spend more. Resist the temptation and make your trips quick!
9. Don’t make Starbucks a ritual
Starbucks in one hand, grocery cart in the other. Sounds like a typical trip, right? Well, next time, try to refrain from buying that mocha frappe and instead make the coffee at home and save at least $800 bucks a year! Or, if you really need that Starbucks fix, then make it only a once-in-awhile splurge item.
10. Challenge your spending habits
Finally, give yourself a challenge every week to try and accomplish. Financial goals such as “only spend $100 at the grocery” can help you by providing a new challenge in the kitchen and expanding your kids tastes (or even a picky spouse). To make it even more a challenge, try to spend less and less every week or lessen the budget each month.
Ten ways to save with an added bonus being the power of the coupon! If you’re not already, using coupons at the grocery can save you hundreds of dollars each year and with the Internet finding coupons is now even easier and cheaper!