From rent to student loan payments and everything in-between, it can be a challenge coming up with enough money each month to pay for the things you need and want. One of the easiest and most practical ways to reduce your monthly expenses is reduce your monthly food budget. Check out these 10 simple tips frugal grocery shopping:
Plan ahead with menus.
Think like a restaurateur by strategizing meal planning in advance. When you create a weekly menu, you cut your grocery bill by:
- Reducing impulse spending
- Creating leftovers
- Eating freshly prepared foods that can decrease healthcare related costs
- Providing an opportunity to save by purchasing items in bulk
Make a grocery list, and stick to it.
You’ll negate your economic progress if you don’t create a grocery list from your menu and commit to buying the items – and only the items – on your list. Picking up just one extra item can easily lead to a cart overflowing with items that aren’t on your list. To help strike a balance between being list lockdown and a willy-nilly spending spree, budget for one or two weekly impulse buys.
Only shop once a week.
You can further knock out the added expense of impulse purchases if you limit the number of grocery store trips to one per week. In addition to reducing fuel costs, grocery shopping on a weekly schedule will provide fewer opportunities to overspend.
Use easy and free apps.
Get organized with free and easy-to-use mobile apps that make grocery shopping an enjoyable and economical experience. Whether you need help maintaining your shopping list or want to find deals on locally grown foods in your area, there’s a money-saving grocery app for you!
- GroceryGadgets (Apple, Android, BlackBerry, Nokia, and Windows Phone) – Shopping list productivity app for organizing shopping lists, coupons, and recipes
- ToMarket Grocerry Shopping (Android) – Fully customizable app with features like barcode scanning, price checking, aisle sorting, and coupon storage
- Grocery IQ (Apple and Android) – Allows you to build shopping lists from a database of products, scan barcodes, and sync lists with other devices
- Locavore (Apple and Android) – Helps you pinpoint in-season food from local farmers’ markets in your area
You don’t have to star in an episode of Extreme Couponing, to reap the benefits of coupon savings. Make the most of your couponing experience by combining manufacturer’s coupons from your Sunday paper and websites, like Coupons.com, RedPlum, and SmartSource with in-store sales. CouponMom and The Krazy Coupon Lady match coupons and sales deals for you, saving valuable time.
Tip: Don’t use your coupons right away. After about four weeks of a product’s promotional lifecycle, the coupon will correspond with in-store sales. This is when you will save the most on your grocery purchases and how avid couponers take home hundreds of dollars’ worth of groceries for free.
Grub before you shop.
Shopping while hungry is the Achilles’ heel of saving money on your grocery bill. Instead of buying what you need, your brain and stomach will conspire to make you purchase products that appeal to your taste buds instead of your budget. Grab a quick snack before you grocery shop so your purchases will be motivated by the essentials, not indulgence.
Have a 70/30 shopping vision.
Grocery stores lure you into spending more by the way they arrange their products. Stay focused by adopting a 70/30 vision: the majority of your items (70%) should be perimeter purchases made from departments like produce, dairy, and meat. These items are fresher, healthier, and less costly than the processed foods found on aisle shelves. Only 30% of your groceries should consist of aisle items.
Go generic for good deals.
When you purchase name brand products, you’re paying more for the packaging of the item than the quality of its contents. Make major, money-saving waves on your grocery bill by shopping generic. Take home store-brand products when you purchase pantry staples like flour, spices, cereal, soda, and produce. You can track your generic versus name brand savings over time with the Generic/Store-brand Savings Calculator.
Shop elsewhere for household items.
Household and toiletry items are magnets for markups in grocery stores. When compared to the cost of household items at specialty stores like home improvement warehouses and office supply stores, grocery stores markup these goods by as much as 60%.
Check out the checkout.
One flash of a friendly smile and we trust our cashier to accurately scan our items while we pretend not to read the tabloid headlines. However, simple human error can cost you major dollars. Keep an eye on the screen while the cashier scans your items, especially if you use coupons or are taking advantage of in-store sales. Ensure each beep of the scanner registers the item you want at the price you expect.
Kimberly Back is the Content Manager and Social Media Strategist for Virtual Vocations, an online job compilation service that helps job-seekers find legitimate telecommute opportunities while also providing useful and educational resources for remote workers.
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Category: Money Basics