According to the USDA, the average monthly grocery bill is between $568 and $1,293 for a family of four. If that sounds pricey, it is – the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that food is the third-largest household expense. Because food is a necessity, no one wants to cut their food budget, especially if they are trying to eat healthy. But there are many ways to reduce food expenditures without going without the food your family loves. Here are tips to help you score big savings at the grocery store.
Would it surprise you to learn that Americans throw out 25% of what we buy? According to the Resources Defense Council, that’s exactly what we do. Planning starts with an inventory of what we already have on hand. If there is a product you need to use up before its expiration date, make that the cornerstone of the meal planning for the week. There are hundreds of websites with recipes online, including some sites that let you plug in the food and ingredients you have, and it will then make recipe recommendations.
A lot of the extra expense at the grocery store can be alleviated with some planning ahead of time. When you don’t know what you have on hand, it encourages you to buy randomly. There are apps like Out of Milk that can help you know what to buy.
Comparison shopping for food used to be extremely difficult. But with the internet, comparison research is a snap. Are you really shopping at the store with the lowest prices? It’s time to find out. Balancing Beauty & Bedlam is a blog that has an easy-to-use spreadsheet to track your findings. Mighty Grocery allows you to enter the food prices and save them. It will also save recipes and coupons and calculate the cost of your planned grocery list.
Grocery King, which is available on Android devices, helps create quick shopping lists with option to link to a local retailer.
Rely on the price per ounce or price per unit rather than the list price. Most stores list this under the larger sticker price. This helps you determine whether a bigger or smaller package gives you the best savings.
You don’t have to become a crazy couponer to deploy discounts wisely. If you already get the Sunday paper, review the circular for coupons on things you normally buy. If you prefer to go digital, make sure you download the app for your local retail store. By creating an account at a store like Meijer or Target, you can see which coupons are offered and clip them virtually on your phone. They will then be-preloaded by the time you reach the register, no need to pull out paper copies.
Also be aware of special extra discounts, such as Target’s Cartwheel program. Cartwheel offers additional savings on items. Simply scan the bar code with your phone to save 5-15% off items at Target.
Pick One Store
Loyalty pays off for shoppers. To save money, it’s best to shop at one store rather than wasting time at multiple stores. This allows you to reap the maximum benefit from your store’s loyalty program. At some grocers, like Kroger’s, that means you will earn fuel reward for every dollar you spend. At other stores, this means receiving additional discounts after you spend a certain amount for the year.
Eat Before You Go
Our final tip is to never shop on an empty stomach! The hungrier you are, the more likely you will be to make impulse buys, purchase candy and get distracted from the task at hand. Studies show that customers whose appetites are active are more likely to spend more, which is why your store loads up consumables like baked goods right beside the entrance.