Grocery shopping can ramp up your expenditure if you are not careful. The average American household spends hundreds of dollars on grocery shopping every month.
Understandably, people have to eat.
But what if there are ways you can lower the amount spent on grocery shopping per month? And without the need to use coupons?
I have nothing against coupons. I think they are a great way to save some cash while shopping and I have reviewed some of the best Coupon sites to help you save money as well.
Not everyone likes the idea of looking for coupons or using them. That is why we have come up with several tested and proven methods that will help you lower your grocery bill without using coupons.
1. Always make a list and stick to it
A list is always a great way to help you save money when you go grocery shopping. We get distracted easily. Retail outlets use all kinds of tricks to make us spend more than we had planned.
To avoid impulse buying, have a list ready with all the items you need and stick to this list. If you are not a fan of carrying papers around, you can download a list app and put in all the products you purpose to buy at the shop.
You do not have to worry about forgetting something when you have a list. If you shop from the same store frequently, you can organize the items on your list in such a way that you won’t need to move from one aisle to the other in search of these products. This will save you some time and energy.
2. Buy store-brand products versus name brands
I know that most people are skeptical about purchasing store-brand products because of various reasons. Some are staunch followers and loyalists to certain ‘big-name’ brands. Products from these ‘big-name’ brands tend to be more expensive than the store-brand products despite being of the same quality and quantity.
You can compare the list of ingredients between the two and if they match, try out the store brand product. You might be pleasantly surprised.
Sure, most store-branded products do not come in fancy packaging and they do not have the ‘wow’ effect… but if they can match in quality, why not give them a trial and save some money in the process?
Big brands spend millions of dollars to keep you hooked on their products. They recoup this expenditure by pricing their products highly because they know that you will still choose these products over other lowly-priced products from their competitors.
3. Save on meat products
Meat products take a huge chunk of our budget when we go grocery shopping. There are ways you can save money when buying meat.
If you are just looking for a source of protein, you may decide to go with cheaper alternatives (such as eggs or fish).
You can save money by buying cheaper beef cuts. Just ensure that they are of good quality. For instance, steaks cost more than any other form of meat cuts. You may decide to buy a different and cheaper kind of meat cut and you will still fulfill your urge to consume some meat. Do not let the store slice the meat into small chunks for an extra cost. You can do this yourself when you get home.
Another way would be to buy a whole chicken and then break down the parts yourself. Some stores will charge you extra for removing the skin or bones from the chicken you buy.
4. Look up and down the aisle and compare prices
There is a reason why products are placed differently on the shelves in the retail store. The layout of different products is very important. Why do you think flowers are placed closer to the entrance and dairy products (like eggs) at the back?
Why do you think some products are placed on top shelves while others fight for space at the bottom?
According to realsimple.com, brands pay for product placement in retail stores. The most attractive spot is the eye-level position. Most of us don’t bother checking out other products that do not meet our ‘eyes’.
If you bothered to check prices at the bottom shelf, you may be surprised to find products being priced significantly lower.
When you walk into a Costo, you will find most bulk items on the lower shelves. The high-ticket items go to the top shelves.
Of course, there are exceptions to this. For instance, the shelves that stock pastries place their expensive stuff on the lower shelves so that when your kids see them, they will beg or coarse you to buy for them.
This brings me to the next point…
5. Do not bring kids grocery shopping
Whenever possible, leave the kids at home when coming to do grocery shopping. Kids are very effective in making us divert from our budget. They will find all sorts of stuff and beg you to buy for them.
Chances are you will agree at some point. And this will set you back a bit because you will be using the money you had not planned on spending.
Kids are a distraction. They will not give you enough time to keep comparing prices and this may make you miss a sale. Only go with them to the store if you cannot leave them under someone else’s care.
6. Shop Seasonal products
We can save a lot of money by buying products that are in season. These could be perishable or non-perishable products. When products are in season, they tend to cost less than other products. If possible, preserve these products so that you can still save a pretty penny when the season is over.
If you love experimenting with different recipes, try out the recipes you want depending on what is in season at that time. For instance, do not plan to cook a meal that requires oranges when another fruit is in season. You will end up paying a lot for that dish.
7. Look for Clearance items
Clearance items sell at a highly discounted price because the store wants them gone. You can always ask the management whether they have items on clearance. You might be surprised to find something you have always wanted being sold at a throwaway price just because it is among the clearance items.
8. Shop at Non-Grocery Stores or discount groceries
Sometimes products in grocery stores tend to be priced higher than those in other non-grocery stores. This is because they know that most people do not bother comparing prices and they love the convenience of shopping for everything under one roof.
When you have time, take a stroll into a non-grocery store and compare the prices. You will be shocked!
9. Buy items on sale
Buying items on sale is one of the best ways to save money while doing grocery shopping. If you buy from one store every week, ask the management about when they think they will have a sale. Most of these grocery products go on sale now and then.
If possible, buy in bulk and try to stretch them till the next time they will be having a sale. Then keep repeating this and calculate how much you will have saved over a certain period.
You can ask about mark-down times and then plan accordingly. Most stores have these mark-down sessions at different intervals. This would be a good time to snatch a deal. Some stores have permanent mark-down aisles where everything you see on these aisles is on sale.
10. Don’t buy more than you need
Sometimes we get overwhelmed when we walk into a store and find that the prices are lower than we had anticipated. It is natural to want to buy as much as you can. However, if these products were not in your budget, do not buy them. Do not buy items that you will not use. Only go for what you need.
Many people end up wasting a lot of food because they bought too much and some went bad before they could be used. If you are good at preserving food products, by all means, buy as much as you want. If not, buy only what your family needs for a certain period.
11. Limit your purchases of juice and other drinks (ie soda, wine, etc)
Juices and processed sodas can add up to our grocery budget – and to our calories intake! When you limit the number of processed juices and sodas you buy in a month, you will save some money and probably start living a healthier lifestyle.
12. Bake foods from scratch instead of buying them
We might not all be good bakers but if you love cooking, you can save good amounts by doing it yourself. Baking is fun. Initially, the cost of ingredients might balloon up your budget for groceries but with time, this cost flattens out. You may find yourself saving money in the end when you bake from scratch. It is also a great thing because you know exactly what kind of ingredients went into the making of these products.
13. Use Cash instead of credit card
When you use a credit card to shop, your brain may underestimate the amount you spend. On the other hand, when you are using cash, you will take caution when you start to see the cash you have with you dwindling. Use this concept whenever you go grocery shopping. Carry cash and a shopping list. You will not deviate from this list easily because you will fear running out of cash.
14. Meal plan with what you have
Go into your kitchen and ransack your fridge and freezer. Find out what you have and create a meal plan based on what you have in the house. You will likely find that you have enough food to put off going grocery shopping for another day or so. If not, you will know what you have and what you need to plan for when going shopping. It will help you stay focused and reduce the chances of food wastage in the house.
15. Grow a garden
If you have a backyard, you can consider starting a small grocery garden to cater to your family’s needs. I have seen people creating beautiful gardens on their balconies! Gardening is not a difficult task. If possible, grow organic foods and vegetables.
Whenever you harvest, try to preserve as much produce as you can. Gardening will save you a lot of money in the long run.
These strategies will surely help you save some cash when you go grocery shopping. If you want to save more money, there is no harm in considering looking for coupons. Coupons can go a long way in helping people save money whenever they shop online. Most retailers offer these coupons for online sales. You can check out the best coupon sites to help you save money while shopping.