We have all heard little tips on how to save when grocery shopping – ‘don’t buy that, it will go on sale soon’ or ‘don’t ever go shopping when you’re hungry, you’ll buy things you don’t need’. These tips are great for your wallet and sometimes your waistline. There have been multiple occasions when I have gone grocery shopping and have been shocked by the final price when checking out. How can we avoid paying full price or too much for our groceries? We gotta eat right? We also need to be able to pay for other expenses so let’s talk about some ways to cut down expenses when grocery shopping.
Before you venture off to the land of food stop and figure out how much you can spend on your meals. Paying in cash can limit you on what you spend and limit those extra items you want to toss in your cart. Creating a budget will help you figure out which items you are able to afford and not break the bank. Not sure where to start with a budget? Check out this other blog post that gives some great advice on how to start your own budget – https://molentax.com/do-i-need-a-budget/.
Take Stock of your pantry and fridge
How many times have you bought something and then realized that you already had one or two hiding in your pantry? Guilty! One way to ensure you don’t buy items that you don’t necessarily need right away is doing a quick check noting what you already have so you don’t waste money on a new one.
Create a plan for meals
Yep, you’ve heard this one before but it really helps out when you are grocery shopping. Sit down, grab some paper and pen and figure out what meals you’d like to have for that week and devise a grocery list from those meals. I like to take a poll from my family and give them each an opportunity to weigh in on what they’d like for a dinner that week. That way I can be sure that they actually eat what I buy and make.
Limit your grocery trips
Okay, so this one is tough nowadays isn’t it? How easy is it to take notice that you are out of something and open up your grocery app, place an order, and have it delivered that same day? WAY too easy! During this time when nearly every grocery store will deliver your groceries same day it’s hard to limit those extra trips.
Keep in mind that those deliveries don’t come free. Grocery stores charge extra per item, plus fees, plus tips for the driver that add up when used multiple times. Really try to consolidate those trips whether you go in person, curbside pickup, or have it delivered and it will save you some extra cash in your pocket. If you don’t think it’s a big deal, take a minute to review your orders in the past month and calculate how much you spend on the fees. It adds up!
During holiday times you can watch for when grocery stores drop those extra fees and opt for that delivery without paying more.
Yep, who doesn’t love rewards and grocery stores know how to reel you in with that one word. I’m no stranger to joining a good rewards program or loyalty program or whatever they want to call it because saving money on something I already plan on buying is a WIN-WIN in my book. Most stores even do a bulk buy reward where the more you buy the cheaper it is, and this is a great time to stock up if it is something you use regularly like diapers or soap.
Keep in mind that sometimes the sales that are combined with rewards might not be the best deal. Everything is so easy to access online so sometimes I do a side-by-side grocery trip comparing costs at two different stores that I use often. I’ve had some serious price differences and was shocked at how one store charged so much more for the same item. Sometimes it is worth doing a price comparison by trying out a new grocery store and reviewing your receipts to see if you are really getting the best deal.
The first thing that pops into my mind when I think of coupons is those extreme couponers. How I wish I had the time and patience and know-how to be as dedicated as they are, however, I’m just not. If you are then major kudos to you. I do take advantage of online coupons that I can easily apply to my shopping list. Most stores have made it super easy to access coupons so you can pull it up on your mobile device at check out or even apply it to your online order. If you have the extra time, then you can even check the manufacturers website and use their online coupons on top of the stores coupons. I’ve heard of people walking out with a full basket of groceries and paying a measly $5 for the entire thing. Just WOW. I feel great when I’ve saved about $20 on my purchase of $150 so to each their own.
Generic versus Name brand
There is a time and place for buying a generic brand. My kids will tell you that Marshmallow Mateys isn’t the same as Lucky Charms but when you can buy a massive bag of cereal versus a tiny box… yeah, generic is the way to go. This isn’t the case with all generic brands. If you find yourself paying more than double the cost for a name brand item it is worth considering trying a generic brand. I have found that sometimes the generic is actually better. It really is trial and error but worth it in the long run.
The Leftover Dilemma
We are a family of five and so when I make dinner, I try to make enough that we have leftovers. If I see that I can purchase 5lbs of ground beef for $10.58 or 2lbs of ground beef for $9.45 you can bet that I’ll be buying that 5 lbs. Take that 5lbs and make a meal that you can freeze. I can’t tell you how many times we have gone through the fridge and found said leftovers that have turned into a science project. YUCK! Take those leftovers and you can actually freeze them. That way if you forget about it, you don’t have to toss it in the trash because it hasn’t spoiled. This doesn’t hurt when you’ve had a busy day and remember that you’ve made some frozen meals or have frozen leftovers that you can easily pop in the oven.
Check Your Receipt
This is pretty self-explanatory – before leaving the store review your receipt for any items that may have rung up incorrectly. Either the cashier keyed in the wrong code or maybe the sales price didn’t come up when the item was scanned, these can add up to quite a bit with each visit. You can simply stroll over to the customer service desk and ask them to refund you any additional costs that you paid. This is the same for delivery or curbside pick up orders. I’ve had items forgotten in my orders and with a simple phone call I was refunded, or the item was redelivered within a couple hours.
Cash back Credit Cards
Some credit cards have any amazing cash back program on groceries and gas. If you know you are going to be buying groceries every month then it could be beneficial to utilize those rewards and paying off the balance monthly.
There are so many ways to save when shopping at grocery stores and making sure you get the best bang for your buck. For some other ideas on how to save at the grocery store you can check out https://clark.com/save-money/save-money-on-groceries/
If you are interested in coming up with a great financial plan and budget give Molen & Associates a call today!