Saving Money on Groceries

I find Groceries to be the biggest enigma in the American household. No one seems to know what an appropriate amount to spend should be, yet everything thinks they spend too much. Some people can get by on any food, while others find they need to maximize the nutritional value of what they get. Here’s some tips on how we save money.

  1. Always look at the unit price – It used to be that the more of an item you bought, the greater the savings. This is not necessarily true anymore. In fact, we once compared the price per unit for common items at Costco to those of our local grocery store, and found the smaller quantities at the grocery store were cheaper in 4/10 cases. So don’t just grab the big thing of paper towels because you assume savings. Manufactures use all sorts of tricks, but the unit price doesn’t lie.
  2. Don’t shop hungry – This is an old rule, which I’m sure you’ve heard before, but it’s so true. If you go to the store on an empty stomach you’ll end up with so much more. If you go completely full, not that much will look good, and you’ll end up with just what you need.
  3. Always bring coupons – As we mentioned previously, coupons are free money. It only takes a few minutes, and it’s also worth scouting our your local grocery store’s circular for the week. Make a choice of which store to shop in based on what you need.
  4. When in doubt, buy less – There is no worse feeling then having to throw out food because it spoiled. It may be tempting to buy a month’s worth of groceries in one visit, but the more you buy, the more likely it is to not be used. Try to only buy perishable goods no more then a week in advance. If you are really close to a store, maybe you can buy the same day, ensuring it will always be used and you’ll have the freshest quality.
  5. Make a list, and stick to it! – The second part of this is the most important. Treat your grocery list like the ten commandments. If you are doing a great job planning your budget, then your grocery list is part of that budget plan. Don’t deviate if possible!
  6. Don’t be fooled by quantity sales – Often grocery stores will list out sales in bizarre quantities, ex: 10 bottles of vinegar for $10! You almost never actually need to buy 10 to get that deal, and if you in fact just buy one you’ll get the same sale. If it’s not perishable and you have the storage, it may make sense to stock up on good deals, but if you only use it rarely or have a tight budget, just buy the smallest quantity you’ll need until the next sale.

Grocery shopping can be a pain, but if you start to enjoy the thrill of the hunt, it’s a great way to save money in your budget. What are your favorite grocery tips?