If you feel like you’ve been largely buying the same things at the grocery store, but somehow spending more, you’re not wrong. The prices of certain food items are on the rise, which can make it hard to manage your grocery budget.
The Consumer Price Index — which measures economy-wide inflation — for grocery store purchases increased 0.6% from March 2021 to April 2021, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In total, supermarket prices are 1.2% higher now than in April 2020.
In 2020, grocery store prices surged 3.5%, according to the USDA. Some of the categories that saw the largest increases included meat — 7.4% — dairy products — 4.4% — and eggs — 4.3%.
The last thing you want to do is give up your favorite foods, but your bank account can’t handle these prices. If you’re feeling frustrated by the amount of your grocery bill every time you go to the supermarket, don’t despair.
While you might need to make some adjustments to what you’re buying at the store, you can probably save more by simply changing the way you shop. Here’s a look at five money-saving secrets that can keep your kitchen stocked with your favorite foods, without overspending.
Last updated: June 17, 2021
Use a Rebate App
You know you should clip coupons or download them to your supermarket’s rewards app, but you never seem to get around to it.
“Clipping coupons and matching them to sale items takes a lot of time,” said Andrea Woroch, a nationally-recognized money-saving expert, writer and speaker. “Instead, use a rebate app and snap pictures of your receipt to earn cash back after you shop — it’s much easier.”
She recommended using the app Fetch Rewards, which allows you to take pictures of your receipts and upload them to earn points toward free gift cards to retailers like Walmart, Target and Instacart to offset future grocery costs.
Shop With a Basket and Use Self-Checkout
It might be more convenient to push a large shopping cart around the store, but Woroch said that can also make it easier to overspend.
“When you shop with a basket instead of large shopping cart, you’ll quickly realize you’re filling it up with food you don’t need,” Woroch said. “You also should use self-checkout to lower those impulse purchases.”
Literally carrying your groceries around the store and checking them out yourself might sound daunting, but it’s worth it to save extra cash.
Buy Pantry Staples in Bulk
Instead of purchasing the same pantry items every time you go to the store, consider stocking up on certain essentials in higher volumes.
“Often, stores offer special discounts for bulk purchase of specific items,” said Andrei Vasilescu, CEO and digital marketing expert of the coupon website DontPayFull. “If you find anything non-perishable of your regular need is offered at a good discount, purchase it at bulk and store for future use.”
Doing this can save you at least 20% per item, Vasilescu said.
Seek Out Store Brands
Most stores have their own private label brands, which tend to markedly similar, yet cheaper than household names.
“Interestingly, these store branded things come with considerably lower prices than their popular or national-branded counterparts,” Vasilescu said. “If you don’t have a fascination for the top brands, you can save at least 30% by picking up the store brands.”
If you’re hesitant to swap, try one item at a time, and you’ll likely find you don’t — or barely — notice a difference.
Check Out: Best and Worst Things to Buy Generic
Don’t Shop Without a List and a Budget
If you’re not the kind of person who is into list-making and planning ahead, you might wing it inside the supermarket. However, Rahkim Sabree, a nationally certified financial education instructor and financial coach, said this strategy can easily lead to impulse buys.
“You’ll be less likely to overspend in the grocery store if you have a predetermined budget and list,” he said. “How many times do we go into the grocery store for one thing and end up with a full cart of groceries?”
Making a grocery list only takes a few minutes, but doing so can help you save more than a few dollars.
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