The grocery shopping experience has evolved over the past few decades. Customers are becoming more accustomed to finding deals and shopping at a number of stores in one grocery trip. Retail stores have taken note of this and become extremely competitive to keep their customer’s loyalty. Knowing all this, there might be a few ways you’ve been missing out on in saving money at the grocery store. Here’s our basic guide to saving on groceries.
Make a Meal Plan
When you sit down to make a meal plan for each day and stick to the list, you’ll save your family a lot of money. That’s because you’re not aimlessly walking the aisles throwing groceries into the cart that look good. It’s also harder to stick to a budget that you may have. Pinterest has tons of ideas to help you come up with dishes to add to your meal plan. There are also Facebook groups where you can swap meal planning ideas (one of my favorites is A Full Life for Less). Put a post on Facebook and ask your family and friends what they’re making to give you some new ideas. When you’re stuck for ideas and the budget is tight, start with what you’ve got in your pantry and freezer to see what you can make without purchasing a bunch of additional groceries.
Before heading to the grocery store, it’s wise to take inventory on what you still have in your pantry. There might be enough ingredients present where you just need one more item from the grocery store for a complete meal. Taking inventory will also help you remember to use something that may be coming close to the date. You’ll also want to make sure you’ve got everything you’ll need to make for the dishes you’ve added to your meal plan.
Bringing your children or your spouse with you to the grocery store is not a good idea. When you have multiple grocery shoppers in your family with different agendas, there will be items getting rung up that you don’t remember. Sometimes bringing the kids with me to shop can make me stay on track and get me out of the store more quickly. I’ll give them each specific things to look for in the store to cut down on how long we are actually in the store. That way we’re also grabbing just what we need instead of extra things. Make sure if you’re taking the kids (or anyone) with you, they know the rules and expectations. My kids know the general rule is that I won’t buy something if it’s not on sale or if I don’t have a coupon for it. That helps to keep all of us on track and they don’t ask for things that aren’t on sale. As a general rule, it’s usually cheaper and faster to shop alone.
Shop the Sales
Whichever store you’re looking to shop, pick up an ad flyer and find key deals. There are items that might save you over half of the full retail price. Sometimes there’s a deal so good that you have to stock up for a while. If they have any kinds of rewards program, make sure to sign up for those as well. It’s usually free to enroll (tip: set up a “junk” email address to sign up with these so they’re not clogging your regular inbox). Take a picture of the card to keep it on your phone and type in the number. I also put all the key tags on a separate key ring and keep them in my purse for when I need them.
Use Their App
Shopping with an app can save you money too. You’ll be able to take advantage of free items of the week as well as digital coupons that they offer that can be put on top of their already extremely well marked down ad items. Download those coupons to your shopper’s card before you get to the store (it can take up to an hour for the coupons to load to your card sometimes). I prefer store apps that I can create a grocery list from the list of weekly sale items.
Avoid Regular Priced Items
Sometimes paying full retail on an ingredient you really need is unavoidable. But most of the time you can find that same product on sale at another of your favorite retail stores. Paying full retail is basically cheating your overall grocery savings. Keep an eye on store brand items instead of buying name brand. Many stores also have a clearance or mark down section that you can check for additional savings. When you do need to buy something at full price, have an idea of which stores in your town you can get the best deal for those things to keep you on track with saving on groceries.
Look for In Store Items and Markdowns
Ad items in their store curricular are not the only method of grabbing good deals. Hunt down their aisles for in store tags or clearance manager specials in the perishable departments to really steal a great deal. You’ll just have to make sure you use that item within a day or two. You can also ask department or store managers for additional discounts if you find items in the store that have been damaged.
Bring Your Coupons
While most people don’t wait for the Sunday paper to come out for coupons as much anymore, digital couponing has really taken off. Many retail stores offer digital coupons on their apps and can save you over a buck an item. Make sure to load those coupons to your card right away. They can take some time to upload to your card so you can use them during your visit and help keep you saving on groceries with the swipe of your shopper’s card.
Use Pick Up or Delivery
If it’s an option in your area, having your groceries available for you to be picked up. Better yet, you can have them delivered right to your door! This is super helpful when you’ve got a sick kiddo or just can’t get out of the house (or don’t want to). Not spending time in the store can save enough to cover the cost for these services. Keep an eye out for coupons and discount codes for delivery services as well. If the cost is just too much, partner with a neighbor to have groceries delivered or swap picking them up for each other when you’re at the store.
These are a few basic ways that you can save on your overall grocery bill. What other ways do you have for saving on groceries?