Regardless of whether you’re feeding just yourself or a whole family, you probably find that groceries take a big bite out of your paycheck. Food is the third-largest household expense, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports. 1,293 how To Save Money On Groceries With Coupons those on a more liberal budget, according to the USDA. MONEY consulted supermarket-savings experts for strategies that would help you trim the fat, without giving up the foods you love. Take stock of your pantry and freezer once a month to get a sense of what items you need and what you can skip buying, says Annette Economides, co-author of Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half with America’s Cheapest Family.
Instead, look first at the deals and plan your meals around what’s on sale. This way, you can get meals for half price. To prevent your food from turning into wasted money, sort through your fridge and pantry about once a week for items that are about to expire and place those in a designated space so that you remember to eat them before they go bad. Reduce impulse purchases and save gas by planning your shopping list so that you get a week’s worth of groceries in one shot. Review your last grocery receipt and circle your most expensive purchases. When you’re next in the store, consider swapping these items for lower-cost alternatives—like ground turkey for ground beef. Subbing out a few items each trip can add up. Learn the price range of the items you buy most frequently so that you’ll be able to recognize when they hit their lowest and stock up then, says Nelson. 5 a pound over the course of three weeks.
500 a year on just one item. Or any promotion in which a store is offering several items for one price. Also, if it is actually a discount, keep in mind that you don’t need to buy 10 to get the lower price. Compare items by not just the sticker price but the price per ounce or pound to be sure you’re getting the best deal. Most stores post this number on the label on the shelf. For meats, look at the cost per serving instead so the bones and fat included in the weight of the item don’t mislead you.
Couponing doesn’t require circulars and scissors anymore. But wait until the item is at a really good sale price. This way you get savings from both the store discount and the coupon. Buy for 10 weeks at a time. Sales run through cycles, typically on an eight to12 week rotation, lifestyle and money-saving blogger Leslie Lambert of Lamberts Lately found. So if you know you’ll go through a box of cereal a week, buy 10 when they’re a deal to see you through the weeks when the item will be at full price.
If a sale item is out of stock, ask the store for a rain check. It’s a slip of paper that grants you the sale price once the item’s back in stock regardless of whether the promotion is still running. Or if you don’t want to come back into the store, ask a manager if you can sub a similar item for the one on sale, recommends Annette Economides. These services offer weekly cash-back deals on a range of goods and all you need to do is take a photo of your receipt showing you bought the item to take advantage of the kickback, says Nelson. Be Smarter in the Store 15. Pick one grocery store and one drugstore you go to frequently. Understanding the program will help you concentrate your efforts so that you can get items for free, she notes. The more aisles you walk down, the more likely you are to add things to your shopping basket that you hadn’t initially intended to buy.
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Shoppers who decreased the number of aisles they visited checked out with only half their items being unplanned purchases vs. The larger your shopping party, the more likely you are to make impulse purchases. So leave your spouse and your kids behind. A study in the Journal of Consumer Research found that consumers are likely to spend more if their appetites have been stimulated beforehand. That’s probably why baked goods and rotisserie chickens are placed by the entrance of the store. Studies show that stores play music with a slower beat to encourage you to move more slowly through the aisles. And opting for those handheld baskets can be equally dangerous.
Avoid the middle shelves and end caps. Companies pay to place products at your eye level—and your kid’s. Scan the top and bottom shelves instead as most of the time you’ll find the less expensive brands and best deals there. Whether you’re buying freshly cut meats from behind the deli counter or pre-sliced by the hot dogs, you’re spending more on cold cuts than you need, according to Steve Economides, who instead opts for large chunks of prepackaged meat called chubs.
He then asks the deli or the butcher to slice the chubs for him. Do your own slicing and dicing. Prepackaged and single-serving foods are easy mark-up territory. Though it may be more time-consuming, buy the whole chicken, block cheese or pineapple and do the chopping yourself. Don’t get milk at the supermarket. 2-plus a pop—that you’ll never be able to use up in time and instead plant a couple pots with fresh herbs to keep in your kitchen or porch. 5, you’ll always have fresh herbs ready, and you won’t end up wasting any.
If you do want those berries in the off-season, buy extra when they’re cheap and freeze them so you can enjoy them year round. For a guide to when certain produce is in peak-season, see this chart from the USDA. Buy frozen and do the thawing yourself. Your fish will be fresher and you won’t have to use it right away. Washington-based Zaycon Foods offers consumers very competitive rates—e. 79 a pound—for those willing to buy orders starting at 40 pounds.
To get these deals, you’ll have to order online and then pick your food up at a prearranged time from the back of a refrigerated truck waiting in a church or shopping center parking lot. Can’t store 40 pounds of meat? Money may receive compensation for some links to products and services on this website. Offers may be subject to change without notice. Quotes delayed at least 15 minutes. Market data provided by Interactive Data.
ETF and Mutual Fund data provided by Morningstar, Inc. P Index data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. Powered and implemented by Interactive Data Managed Solutions. Enter to Win Cash for Christmas! Most of us have a love-hate relationship with the grocery store. We love eating all the delicious food but hate shopping for it.