Just one trip to the grocery store can be enough to completely stress you out about your finances. Money magazine reports that the average American spends almost $6,000 a year on groceries. Furthermore, 14% of what we buy ends up in the trash. That’s $840 in the
garbage. It makes you sick, doesn’t it?
Well, don’t worry! There are many things you can do to save money on groceries. And thankfully, you don’t need to look forward to living off of rice, beans, and cup-of-soups. By following these five tips, you can help to save a substantial amount the next time you visit the grocery store.
1. Plan ahead
Planning ahead can have a huge impact on what you spend at the grocery store. Instead of visiting the store every few days, when you decide at the last minute that you want this or that for dinner, plan the entire week’s meals ahead of time and commit yourself to only visiting the grocery store once a week. When you go to the store for last-minute food, you may end up spending more than you need to—or should!—by purchasing “convenience” foods.
To avoid these types of last-minute woeful decisions, sit down at the beginning of each week and write out a meal plan. Decide what you will eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner each day, and determine what you already have lurking in your cabinets and what you need to get at the grocery store. This will help reduce impulsive spending that can put a serious hurt on your bank account.
2. Keep a grocery diary
It may sound tedious, but by keeping a grocery diary, you can really have a good idea of where your money is going. For at least thirty days, write down every single cent that you spend on food and drink—as well as anything you purchase at the grocery store such as trash bags and tissues. Most people will find that they really aren’t as frugal and cost-conscious as they think they are. We often spend money on sodas and snacks throughout the day that we really don’t need. When you have all of the figures in front of you, you’ll be able to see exactly where your grocery money is going—and be able to be more conscious of what you’re spending in the future.
3. Love your dollar store
Grocery stories worldwide will hate us for saying so, but dollar stores can be serious money-savers when it comes to common grocery items. Your local dollar store carries many grocery staples that you’ll end up buying at a much-more inflated cost at your local grocery store. For example, browse your local dollar store for trash bags, sugar, coffee, milk, toothpaste, toiletries, and household cleaning products. Be sure to compare the items with your local grocery store to ensure that you really are saving some money. A smaller box of trash bags may be offered at the dollar store for a cheap price, but a larger box (at a more expensive price) offered at the grocery store may make more sense in the long run.
4. Don’t shop when you’re hungry
Going to the grocery store on an empty stomach can be the worst decision you can make as far as shopping goes. Your growling stomach will be sure to call you to various foods, and you’ll undoubtedly make several impulse buys that will end up tacking on a good mount of money on your grocery bill. If you absolutely have to go to the grocery store while hungry, be sure to bring a list for what you need to buy—and only stick to your list! Don’t allow yourself to browse the cookie aisle if you’re in no need of them.
5. Don’t throw away leftovers
Even if you only have a small amount of food leftover after a meal, throw it in a plastic bag or container and save it for a snack. Keep in mind that every time you throw away food—no matter how small of an amount—you are throwing away money that you worked hard for. Often, leftover foods can be used for soups, stews, casseroles, or stir-fry. You’ll find that your creativity will go wild using up those leftovers!
These are just five ways to cut down on grocery spending—and they’re sure to work!
Katrina Robinson typically writes about ways to save money on car insurance as well as ways to live frugally without sacrificing too much.