Groceries eat up 6% of the average American’s budget, which means you’re likely spending a decent chunk of your take-home pay at the grocery store every week. Even if you already budget carefully for groceries (which you should!) there’s a good chance you aren’t using all of our 15 tips for saving on groceries.
Use coupons or cashback apps
Clipping coupons from online sources or newspapers can still add up to significant savings. A newer alternative is cashback apps such as Ibottawhich will pay you for uploading pictures of your receipt. Even better, some of the offers on these apps will apply to any brand, which can’t be said of old-fashioned coupons.
Stick to your list
This is one of the simplest tips, and yet we’re all guilty of breaking it. But when you consider that the average U.S. consumer spends over $5,000on impulse buys each year, it becomes obvious that you should stick as closely to your list as possible.
Plan your meals around sales
If you’re like most people, you probably plan your meals for the week and then hit the grocery store. One quick way to save money is to reverse this strategy: let the items on sale guide your meal planning later. After all, you can probably come up with some good recipes for that cheap ground turkey, even if you’d originally planned to have chicken. Need some dinner inspiration? Check out our blog post on 10 Delicious Family Dinner Ideas on a Budget.
Speaking of sales, ask about rain check
When a grocery store sells out of a sale item, sometimes they’ll offer you a voucher called a rain check. With such a voucher in hand, you can buy the same product at the current sale price, even after the sale is over. Ask at customer service to see if they’re available at your grocery store.
Popular in online thrifty circles, stockpilinginvolves buying large amounts of your pantry staples when they’re on sale rather than replenishing when you run out. Grocery stores tend to run on six-week sales cycles, so the next time you notice your favorite pantry items are on sale, consider buying enough to last the next month and a half.
Don’t neglect your freezer
Another way to maximize your value from sales is to buy extra meat or perishables when they’re on sale, then freeze them until they’re needed.
Avoid produce that’s out of season
As tempting as strawberries year-round may be, produce is much more affordable when it’s in season.
Consider frozen fruits and vegetables
If the produce you’re craving is out-of-season, swing by the frozen aisle. Frozen produce is often cheaper but still retains good nutritional value.
Do it yourself
Whenever you’re buying something that’s pre-washed or pre-cut, you’re likely paying a premium. This is especially true for produce, but it also applies to things like bone-in meats and even prepared meals. If you can do the prep work at home, you’ll likely save a good bit of money on these items.
Don’t scoff at generics
Depending on the product, you’re often paying a huge markup just to get a familiar brand. Some generics are even made in the same factory as their name-brand counterparts, so you’re getting the same product for less. Compare the ingredients of name brand vs. generic; they’re often the same.
Look up! Then down
Humans are simple creatures, and we are often more likely to buy something if it’s conveniently placed at eye-level. Grocery stores take advantage of this by placing the priciest items at eye-level. Sometimes you’ll find a better deal just by checking the top or bottom shelves.
Don’t be tricked by promotional terms
Sometimes a deal phrased as “two-for-one” will offer the discounted price even if you only buy a single item. The same goes for similarly-worded promotions. Carefully check the unit price and don’t buy more than you need.
Make decisions based on the unit price, not the sticker price
Most grocery stores will show you what you’re paying per unit of the product (typically weight). Sometimes packaging can make it look like you’re getting more than you are, so pick the cheapest products based on unit price, not the sticker price.
Ask about rewards programs
Many grocery stores offer loyalty programs that will get you benefits such as discounts on groceries or gas. If you’re loyal to a certain store, this can amount to free money.
Don’t pay cash if you have cashback
Buying your groceries with a cashback credit card or one that rewards for grocery store purchases can help save you money on groceries, provided you pay the balance promptly to avoid accruing interest. If you have multiple cards, consider which one will save you the most.
Groceries never have to break the budget. With these tips, you’ll be able to slim down your grocery spending and have more money left at the end of the week. For more financial planning advice, schedule your free Financial Checkup today.
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Information appearing in this article is obtained from sources we believe are reliable. The information may not be a complete statement of all available data and is not guaranteed as such. Marine FCU is not responsible for the contents of this article and advises its membership to investigate claims before following the information provided.