Saving money never goes out of style – and this is especially the case when shopping for everyday items like groceries. Now, it is more important than ever to save where you can on your regular food-related costs.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American family today spends in excess of $530 per month on food – and more than $300 of this is on groceries alone. Yet, while it is essential to have food, the money that you spend on such items is much more in your control than you may think.
Here are three key ways that you can save a substantial amount on your regular trips up and down your local grocer’s aisles:
Stick to Your List
Before setting out for the grocery store, it is essential to make a list of the items that you need. Although making a grocery list may seem old fashioned these days, not only will this list help to keep you on track, but it will also help to deter you from getting off track by purchasing items on “impulse” – no matter how much you may think you want the unneeded item.
Creating a grocery list will also help you to locate coupons and other discounts on the items you will be shopping for. Unlike years ago when coupons were only available in tangible form, today many retailers offer coupons on their websites – as well as on other sites that specialize in providing coupons and discount codes.
Several popular television programs today highlight just how much can be saved by paying attention to coupons and sticking to a shopping list. Yet, while you do not have to spend countless hours mulling over rebate and money-off offers, it is wise to be mindful of how much can be saved – especially if your local grocer offers double- or even triple-coupon promotions.
Having your grocery list handy will also help to keep you focused on sales and promotions of items that you need. Here, you may be able to stray somewhat, though. For example, if you are looking for a particular brand of canned soup, and there is an in-store sale of an alternate brand, it may be best to go with the least expensive item.
You may also choose to stock up on items that you use regularly – especially those that will last for long periods of time such as canned goods or frozen vegetables. Here, you can benefit from possible “2-for-1″ sales at your grocer. You will also save both time and money in the future by already having certain items on hand.
Take Advantage of Your Smart Phone Capabilities
In today’s electronic world, it is a rare occurrence that someone doesn’t have their cell phone within reach. The good news is that there are ways that your smart phone can actually save you money at the grocery store.
If your device has a barcode reader, you can often scan an item’s barcode in order to see where you can find the same or similar item at a lower price. By bringing the price difference to the attention of the retailer, it is likely that they will match – or possibly even beat – the lower advertised price of their competitor.
Seek Multi-Use Items
Another way to save money on your grocery expenses is to seek out items that can be used for more than one meal. Here, for example, if you purchase a package of chicken breasts, you could use the items as a main course for one meal, while later preparing chicken salad or chicken soup for a future meal.
This may entail spending some time planning out your meals prior to heading to the grocery store. Doing so, however, will not only save you money, but it will also help to eliminate unnecessary waste. It could also turn out to be a healthier alternative as well – which could essentially help to save you money in other areas such as health care.
Being frugal with your food dollar can also mean making your own items such as jam, cheese, and drink mixes. Doing so can save you a great deal over what it costs to purchase such items that are already pre-made.
The Bottom Line
In order to determine how much you can really save, start to track your overall food related expenses. Then, over time, compare how much you have saved month-to-month by using the techniques above. While it may seem difficult or time-consuming at first, once you see just how much you can save, your money saving habits will be much easier to live by going forward.