One of the biggest expenses facing families every month is the cost of keeping the refrigerator full. Eating well isn’t cheap, but it can be a lot more affordable if you know exactly how to shop. The amount of money you spend at the grocery store every month may be one of your biggest expenses, but it’s also one of the most easily adjusted, and a good strategy is the key to saving hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars every year.
Here are five tips to know by heart if you want to cut your grocery bill in half:
Stock up when the getting is good
A grocery store’s weekly circular ad is your best friend, and it’s a great way to build new shopping habits. One great way to shop is to buy non-perishable and freezable goods when they are at their cheapest as opposed to when you are running low. Coffee can be expensive, especially if you drink it on a daily basis. If a two-pound tin of coffee routinely costs $8 and you find your favorite brand on sale for $5, stock up. You may not need it all right away, but you won’t find yourself running short in the long run, and you’ll save yourself a good deal of money over time.
Plan out your trip
There is no such thing as a short trip to the grocery store. Fifteen minutes easily becomes an hour, and before you know it, you’ve spent $150 when you only planned on spending $15. The best way to counteract this is to plan your grocery trips down to a tee. Use the weekly ads and survey your stock to figure out exactly what you need. When you got into the grocery, get only the items on your list and nothing more. Better yet, time yourself to make sure that your short trips stay short. If you can make it a race against the clock, you might wind up talking yourself out of that item you are mulling over and don’t really need.
Manager’s specials are your friend
Meat is one of the most expensive items you can pick up, and if you’re working on a protein-packed diet, you’ll probably be getting a lot of it. Since it’s tough to keep meat for long periods of time, peruse the manager’s special section of your grocer’s meat counter and plan a meal for that evening or the following day based on what’s available. If ground sirloin is available $2 cheaper per pound than normal, then there’s no reason not to make it a burger night!
Don’t skip out on coupons
Always scour your weekly advertisements for the best deals and handy coupons. While 50 cents here and a dollar there might not seem like much on its face, it all really adds up over time. Additionally, if you shop at a larger chain store, see if they have a shopper’s rewards program or an app that adds up to even greater savings.
Don’t be loyal to brands of any kind
Whether you want to believe it or not, the difference between a name brand and a store brand is almost completely negligible. If you’re on a tight budget, why pay for a name when you can get essentially the same thing for a fraction of the cost? The more you compare generic brands to big names, the more you’ll find that your taste buds can’t tell the difference. Your wallet, on the other hand, will notice the stark contrast almost immediately. Just as you shouldn’t be loyal to a brand name, you shouldn’t be loyal to a particular store. If you shop at one particular grocery store all the time, but you notice that another business has the things you need at a better price, don’t hesitate to jump ship.
When it comes down to it, reducing your grocery bill is about having a plan and sticking to it. Coming up with weekly meal plans and a solid grocery list might sound like a lot of work, but imagine all the money you’ll save as a small paycheck to reward yourself.