It seems like grocery prices go up all the time, making it tough to stay within your food budget. But with some careful planning and habit changes, you can stretch your pennies a lot further. Here are our top 10 tips for saving money on groceries!
Here’s How You Can Start Saving Money on Groceries
1. Schedule Meatless Mondays
Consider regularly having “Meatless Mondays” as a way to save money on food. Protein sources are often the most expensive part of any meal or recipe. Using a low-cost non-meat protein or whole grains as the main ingredient of a favorite dish will stretch the week’s food budget. In fact, once you find some veggie-based recipes you enjoy, you just might want to make more days a meatless day, which means even more saving money on groceries!
2. Bag Bulk Buys
With perishables, the trick is only to buy things you are going to use before they go bad. It’s important to store foods correctly so they’ll last as long as possible. For instance, bulk grains may only keep weeks in the pantry, but if you put them in the fridge, they’ll last much longer. Many other foods like nuts, bread, and baked goods can be frozen to extend their life. Buying paper goods like toilet paper in bulk is a fantastic way to save some dollars after all, you literally throw that cash away.
3. Say No to Pricey Prepped Veg
These products may be more convenient, but that convenience comes at a premium — pre-prepped produce can cost twice as much. There’s one exception: If you only need a tiny amount of something, getting a small portion at the salad bar is preferable to forking out for the full-size item.
4. Say “Yes” to Store Brands
Generics can cost 50% less than name brands, but it may take trial and error to find suitable substitutions. If you don’t care for something, try different stores’ offerings before switching back to the name-brand product. Start with something simple like canned veggies, and be sure to check the product label — there may be a money-back guarantee.
5. Go Digital
Stay on top of the latest money-saving apps to find coupons for items you buy most. (No clipping required — they are loaded onto your store’s loyalty card!) Other apps can help you find the best deals by searching competitors’ prices. Most of these apps are a few dollars at most, so they’re worth the investment when you consider how much you save in the long run.
6. Set Sail for the Freezer Aisle
Frozen seafood can cost nearly half as much as fresh. In fact, frozen seafood may be fresher than the seafood counter fare. Seafood is often frozen right on the boat when it is caught, so the products in the counter were probably thawed from frozen when they got to the market! This is one of the best tips for saving money on groceries.
7. Shop Smarter
Do a major shopping trip twice a month and just get staples like milk or eggs the weeks in between. You may not even have to go to the grocery store in those off weeks if you seek out specials. For example, major drugstores often sell milk as a loss-leader (something sold at little or no profit to bring in customers).
8. Trim Meat Costs
If you see a product at the meat counter that’s getting close to its sell-by date, ask the meat manager if it will be marked down soon — he may mark it down for you right then and there. If not, ask him when he usually puts these products on “quick sale” so you can come back when the time is right.
9. Put Your Freezer to Work
Many foods other than meat — such as butter, cheese, and nuts — freeze quite well. You can even freeze eggs — just crack them into a bowl, whisk them, and pour individual portions into ice cube tray compartments. You can also use your freezer to stockpile ingredients for your go-to recipes when they’re on sale so that you never have to pay full price to make a favorite dish.
10. Time it Right
Most stores issue their new weekly ad on Wednesdays, but some run sales from Sunday to Saturday, so check the dates in the ad to be sure you’re getting the prices you expect. Also, pay attention to when regular markdowns happen. Baked goods often get reduced after 4 p.m. and produce prices are typically slashed in the morning. You can also time purchases seasonally, such as stocking up on cheap post-Thanksgiving frozen turkeys, as a way to start saving money on groceries.