Saving money is becoming more important than ever — this is especially true at the grocery store. While many consider grocery shopping to be a small financial commitment when compared to a car loan and mortgage, if you’re not careful, you can find yourself quickly racking up household food costs faster than you planned.
So if you’re searching for ways to save money, a great place to start is at your local grocery aisle. Here are a few surefire ways to save on groceries:
1. Stick to Your Grocery List
It’s easy to get sidetracked while in the grocery store. Those clever marketing analysts always do their jobs when it comes to creative packaging and product placement. Everything is displayed in a way to draw you in and hook a purchase.
For example, items featured at the ends of grocery aisles are often more expensive than similar products found within.
To avoid getting trapped by these tempting tricks and having to pull extra funds from your savings account, try to stick to a preplanned grocery list. If you keep your eyes on the list, you’ll be less likely to pick up items you really don’t need, which will instantly lead to savings and, potentially, a healthier array of purchases.
2. Avoid Shopping on an Empty Stomach
Sometimes staying ahead of your body’s physiological response to hunger can be one of the best ways to save money. The fresh produce looks fabulous, the cakes and pies smell so sweet, and free samples to taste are everywhere — these sensory triggers are a trap for rumbling stomachs and shoppers on a budget.
Go grocery shopping immediately after a meal, instead of before it. Setting out on your excursion on a full stomach will prevent you from wasting money on temporary cravings. An extra bonus: walking around a supermarket after dinner can help you digest your food more effectively.
3. Try Bulk and Discount Stores
Big families and households can save a lot of money at wholesale and bulk stores. These locations are particularly helpful for saving money on nonperishable items (think canned goods, pasta, water and toiletries).
Visiting discount stores is another practical and easy way to save on groceries. What’s surprising to some shoppers is that name-brand items are often at these stores for half the cost. Places like the 99 Cents Only Store have revolving inventory that can include big names like Western Bagels, Gatorade and even Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, for under $1.
4. Focus on Product Yields
When grocery shopping, you might notice a price difference between fresh and prepackaged items — sometimes by a few cents, other times by a few dollars. However, some shoppers erroneously decide to buy prepackaged or ready-to-eat items for convenience as opposed to the raw versions, taking the lower sticker price as a sign that they’re saving.
But that’s not always the case. Take black beans, for example. A bag of uncooked black beans costs $1.20 and can yield seven servings of cooked beans; in comparison, a can of black beans at $0.89 only serves two.
While the canned beans were more affordable than the bag of beans, the cost per yield tells a different story. Each yield of bagged beans costs $0.17, while the cost of the canned beans is significantly higher, at $0.44 per yield.
When buying based on yield, it’s important to consider spoilage and whether the item in question has a long-enough shelf life to make use of the savings.
5. Organize Your Refrigerator
Saving money on food doesn’t stop at the checkout counter. You can prolong the life of your groceries — and therefore avoid food waste and frequent trips to the market — just by arranging food in the refrigerator correctly.
Fruits and vegetables do not store well in the same bin. Fruits spoil faster in high humidity, while vegetables require humidity to remain at their freshest.
Also, some fruits, like bananas, emit ethylene gas that can cause other produce in the area to decay faster. Most modern refrigerators have labeled drawers at the bottom to help consumers get the most out of their food.
One built-in refrigerator feature that should be avoided is the egg tray located in the door. Eggs need constant cold temperature to keep fresh, but the inconstant temperatures brought on by opening and closing refrigerator doors turn eggs rotten quicker.
If finances are tight, it’s a good idea to cut costs where you can. Using these easy tips to save money on groceries will undoubtedly give your budget some relief.