Going to the grocery store can be a stressful event. For one, there are so many items to choose from! There are store brands, name brands, and brands you never knew existed. Every aisle seems to have something that catches your eye that you may or may not even need. Customers get enticed by the sales or certain foods that look good at the time, but you may purchase more then you expected to. It’s even more stressful if you are on a tight budget!
Many people, like myself, fall for some of these traps every time we enter the supermarket. What we have to remember is that a grocery store operates to make a profit. Everything in a supermarket has a specific place and function to entice customers to buy more so they can make more money. Luckily, there are ways we can purchase what we want and save money doing it.
Here are 6 easy ways to save money at a grocery store:
Know Your Budget
Knowing exactly how much you are going to spend is a huge advantage of saving money. It’s easy to overspend at the grocery store because you may be thinking you are getting a good deal. With so many sales and cheap food options, it’s very easy to get suckered into getting options that you do not need. A good way to keep to your budget is to make a list or do price calculations in-store. Keeping calculations can be done inside your head (which math may not be your thing), or you can use a calculator. Most smartphones have a pre-installed calculator already. If not, there is probably a calculator you can download from the app store. If you end up purchasing more items than expected, the checkout aisle also offers free anxiety and buyer’s remorse.
Coupons are a great resource for saving money and receiving more products than usual. Searching through newspapers and catalogs used to be the main source of coupons in the past. Now with today’s technology, people can acquire coupons much easier with the help of the internet and apps. Using grocery store websites and sites like coupons.com will save you a lot of money on items you use every day. If you have a smartphone, it’s worth checking out the different coupon apps they offer as well.
Advanced couponers will tell you to investigate the policies of the coupons. Certain stores allow doubling coupons. Doubling coupons are when a store allows you to use two coupons in place of the one, therefore getting double the amount in savings!
Buy In Bulk
Most of the time customers buy in bulk, they get more of the same product but at a lower price per item. Say you purchase the same name brand trail mix every week at Walmart for 5 dollars. Walmart also offers the same trail mix in a pack of 4 for 15 dollars. Doing the math, each individual bag of trail mix in the pack is $3.75 (15/4). So for the next four weeks, you will have 4 weeks worth of trail mix and you save 5 dollars more than if you bought 4 individual bags!
Costco is my personal favorite for buying in bulk because of the great store brand they have, Kirkland. Sam’s Club is another great option for bulk buys. If you are buying for a family, I highly recommend buying in bulk!
Beware of bulk buying perishable items. Having to throw away food that expired because there was too much of the item is not saving money!
Do Your Research
To get the very best price on groceries, you must do your research. Different stores carry the same items at different prices. For example, the Target near you sells Hillshire Farm sausage at $3.59. The Walmart close to you sells the same product but at 3.29. At first, it makes sense to shop at Walmart and buy the sausage but many factors come into play. Nobody wants to go from store to store to get specific items just to save a little bit more money. It’s not worth your time and gas for your car.
Instead, get a general idea for which store is offering the best prices for your items. It is best to just calculate your most expensive/main items and see which grocery stores near you sell them at the cheapest price. Also, consider certain factors like if you have coupons or a store loyalty program card.
Make A List
This step is one of the most important steps to saving money at grocery stores. Making grocery lists tells you exactly what to purchase, how much to buy, and it keeps you from forgetting or buying un-needed products. I can’t stress enough how important this step is. One study shows that using a grocery list can actually make you pick healthier choices and lower your weight! Almost all of extreme couponers and grocery store hackers use lists if that tells you anything.
Consider Online Shopping
Welcome to the future, where anyone can launch their ashes into space (yes, really!) and people can buy groceries online. There is a lot of advantage of buying groceries online. Items arrive right to your door or business, the process is hassle-free, you save time, and they can be cheaper than what you can find in the store. There are some disadvantages as well like having to wait on shipments, not being able to use most coupons, risk of items being damaged or missing, as well as more I can go into.
There are many companies now that offer online grocery shopping including Amazon. I have used one of the biggest online grocery stores, boxed.com, and I had a very interesting experience. Having only used them once, I don’t feel comfortable giving an official review. What I can say though is all of my groceries arrived in one box and the box was over 60 pounds! Carrying a 60-pound box is not fun for anyone except weightlifters.
Only some companies can ship frozen or refrigerated items and they are generally more expensive than usual. This is a big deterrent for us grocery shoppers who want to save money. Most savings can be located in regular grocery stores. If frugal shoppers are considering online grocery shopping, I recommend only getting some items online.