Financial Wellness Article Series: Saving Money on Groceries
1. Plan your menus for the shopping period—what are you going to have for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks?a. Check to see what you already have in your refrigerator and pantry.
b. Use the grocery ads you get in the mail to see specials.
c. Use pasta and rice to stretch your food dollars.
d. Cook as much from scratch as you can.
e. Make your own sauces—homemade alfredo sauce is much cheaper than store-bought.
f. Try not to have the same foods over and over unless they are particular favorites.
2. Use your menus and the food in your refrigerator and pantry to create a grocery list.
3. Take the grocery list and divide it into categories such as dairy, meat, canned goods, and frozen so you can shop faster and hopefully miss the impulse items. If you spend 99% of your time in the perimeter of the grocery store, you will buy healthier foods and avoid impulse items. The impulse items are found in the interior (chips, cookies, cokes, etc.), on the endcaps, and at the checkout stands.
4. Compare unit prices on items. You will see the cost per unit on the corner of the sales tag or shelf. Look for the items that are not at eye level as they will often be cheaper. Buy generic whenever you can as they are usually cheaper.
5. Shop the clearance items, but only buy something if it fits your menus.
6. Use coupons if they are for something that you have on your list. Most coupons are for items that you wouldn’t buy on a regular basis. Check coupon.com for appropriate coupons.
7. Buy in bulk when it makes sense. Buy a package of chicken on sale and freeze the part you don’t need immediately. Consider cooking the non-immediate chicken and put in individual packages for a quick dinner. The same is true for bread, vegetables, and fruits.
8. Store purchases appropriately. Put the older purchases to the front and new ones to the back of your pantry and refrigerator.
9. Always pay with cash.
10. Set aside a day to cook and cook the food for the week. You may need to freeze it for a few days so the food will stay fresh. Cook hamburger and onion together, divide it, and use part for tacos and the rest for spaghetti. Put the spaghetti portion in the freezer until later in the week.
11. Follow your menus. You can switch meals or days, but use your meal plan.
12. Don’t decide to snack on something that will be needed in a meal later on. Eat planned snacks.
When you learn to save money on groceries, you will have a big part of your budget under control. It just means being organized before, during, and after you grocery shop.