If you’re trying to save money with frugal living, you already know that the grocery story is both a blessing and a curse. You can save a lot of money by preparing your own meals, but only if you avoid the expensive items and plan wisely. It’s easy to save money in the grocery story, but it’s also easy to blow your budget buying groceries.
Even though the price of groceries is creeping up, planning and cooking your own meals is still the best way to save money and potentially improve your own health as well. If you want to cut your budget in the grocery store, you will need to shop smarter. We have some ideas to get you started.
Shop the edges of the store
As much as possible, shop around the edge of your grocery store and skip the middle. The middle is where you’ll find the prepared foods and the expensive items. The edges of the store are not only the most affordable, they are often the freshest and healthiest as well.
Leave kids at home
Kids can inflate your shopping budget simply with their presence. Every thing they decide they need or want will drive your budget up, so leave the kids at home to shop in peace and save some money as well.
Shop online and pick up
If you have the time and your store offers a curb side service, take advantage of it. You can shop online right as you are making your meal plan or thinking about what you need for the week. Fill up your virtual cart with the things you know that you need and go ahead and pay. Drive to the store and pick them up and you don’t have to worry about impulse purchases.
Use coupons and rain checks
Coupons can be a huge money saver, but they only save you money if you use the coupon on the things you already were planning to buy. Buying something you don’t need or want just because it costs $0.50 less isn’t saving.
Also, you should take advantage of rain checks if a sale item is sold out. Simply ask the store if they will give you a rain check to buy the item at the discounted price when it is restocked and you can save quite a bit.
Avoid buying toiletries or medicine
It sure is convenient to buy shampoo or aspirin at the grocery store while you’re picking up other items, but you will pay for that convenience. Don’t buy drug store items at the grocery store. Buy them at the drug store where you can count on lower prices and good sales.
Consider generic brands
If a name brand item has a generic version available, give it a try. You may discover that the generic version is just fine and that there is no need to pay almost twice as much for the brand name version. Even if you just switch some of your groceries to generics, you will be saving quite a bit over time.
Skip bottled water
Unless you don’t have safe drinking water at home, you don’t need bottled water from the store. Get it from the faucet and save tons of money.
Watch for eye-level tricks
There is serious psychology at play in grocery stores. The items at eye level are the ones the store wants you to buy, and they are often the more expensive versions of the item you’re looking for. Look around the middle shelves to find the less expensive or the bulk items on the bottom or top shelves.
Incorporate more beans, rice and potatoes
Dried beans, dry rice and bulk bags of potatoes provide a great deal of filling nutrition for a pretty small price tag. Don’t be intimidated by the thought of peeling potatoes or soaking beans for a few hours. It’s easy to do and your food will be fresher as well.
Buy produce that is in season
Watch for sales on produce. You can count on items being far less expensive when they are in season. Out of season you’re paying a premium to account for transportation costs.
Do your own cutting, chopping, grating, and dicing
Buy a bag of lettuce and you’re paying for the convenience of not washing and chopping it yourself. The same is true of a bag of shredded cheese. Don’t pay for someone to grate the cheese, chop the lettuce or dice the onions.
Your food budget is important. But you should not have to take out a loan or borrow money for such a mundane thing as putting food on the table. There are many ways to save money in the grocery store and by making smart cooking choices. A bit of work and planning can go a long way as you move through the grocery store aisles.