According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, groceries rank as the third highest monthly expense for American families. So it’s no surprise that families are looking to save money on groceries.
The USDA backs up this claim with a study that shows that the average monthly grocery bill for a family of four is between $568 and $1,293.
Unlike other major expenses like rent, utilities, and insurance, however, your grocery bill isn’t set in stone.
You have complete control over how much you do (or don’t spend each month) on groceries each month.
Unless we’re talking about Kraft Dinner. That is a staple in my house, and is non-negotiable!
Here are the absolute best tips on how to cut back on home food costs to save money on groceries in the future.
Grocery Savings Tip#1: Create a Plan of Attack
Visiting the grocery store without a plan is a recipe for failure.
It pays to come up with a plan of attack beforehand. Take stock of your pantry, fridge, and freezer to see which items you need and which you can skip over until next time.
This is also a good opportunity to take note of items you forgot you had. The National Resources Defense Council states that at least 25% of the groceries Americans buy are never used and thus wasted.
Use up these items if they’re not yet past due instead of continuing to replace them.
Keep notes while you complete this quick inventory. Taking a pre-written grocery list to the store ensures you don’t overspend and only buy the items you actually need.
Also, planning ahead gives you the opportunity to check up on coupons and deals that week.
Grocery Savings Savings Tip#2: Visit the Right Store
Prices for certain grocery items vary wildly from store to store.
We recommend taking the time to do reconnaissance at each store. This isn’t nearly as cool as a Bradley Cooper type reconnaissance, but it’ll save you some cold hard cash!
You can then use this information to help plan all your future shopping trips.
Though picking up a few items at this store and a few at that store can save money on groceries, it’s often a better idea to buy the bulk of your groceries at a single store.
The reason? Brand loyalty programs that give frequent shoppers serious discounts.
Grocery Savings Tip#3: Shop Smart
Perhaps the best way to save money on groceries is to change your shopping habits and shop smarter.
Start by shopping alone. A Marketing Science Institute Study suggests that shopping with someone else results in a cart full of an average 65% unneeded items.
The research also backs up the often-repeated advice to never shop on an empty stomach. Make sure you have a full belly before you head to the grocery store to avoid buying more items than you really need.
Another top tip is to get to know your primary store. Figure out which aisles the items you need are on and avoid the others. Doing so greatly reduces the temptation to buy unnecessary items.
Grocery Savings Tip#4: Do It Yourself
Certain products at the grocery store cost more for the sake of convenience. Deli meats and single-serving foods are some of the biggest culprits.
Avoid freshly cut deli meat in favor of actual chunks of meat. Often known as chubs, these are hunks of fully cooked meat (usually ham or turkey).
It’s the same meat as in the deli at a much lower price simply because it’s not pre-cut.
Single-serving foods are also much more expensive than the whole product. Pineapple and chicken are two examples.
You might spend more time cutting a pineapple or slicing up a chicken but you’re saving a lot of money versus pre-cut and sliced versions.
Grocery Savings Tip#5: Utilize Smartphone Apps
Save money on groceries by utilizing the latest and greatest smartphone apps.
Ibotta is a cash back app where you watch videos or take polls for better deals.
Groupon Coupons helps you find the best coupons from the top retailers.
Checkout 51 lets you upload your receipt to receive cash back after you’re doing shopping.
It can be fun saving money. See what coupons are available on these apps and plan accordingly.
Often, dry foods will come on sale with these apps, and you can stock up to either batch cook, or the coming apocalypse.
I find the first option more appealing.
It’s not difficult to save money on groceries.
All that it takes is a little pre-planning, a smart shopping approach, and a willingness to sometimes sacrifice convenience for a low price.
The variety of great grocery coupon apps available also does a lot to help. Why not take advantage of these tools?
Happy shopping everyone!