Grocery shopping is a significant part of my monthly home budget. Because of that, I like to ensure that I am smart about my supermarket purchases! Those savings can add up to a hefty amount when calculated on a yearly basis – and oh boy, do those savings come in great at the end of the year.
That being said, here are my top ways to save money on grocery shopping.
1) Mission Possible – plan ahead
Supermarkets are organized to get you to purchase more than you intended. (Really, you can read about the psychology behind them online!) When you go to the supermarket, envision it like a mission. My mission is to go in and out only buying what I meant to buy, and nothing more! It’s tough to not be tempted by the yummy snacks, chocolates and numerous options catching your eye. So the way to ensure success in the mission is to plan ahead. Make a meal plan for the next week or two, make a concise grocery list of everything you need before heading out, and then make sure you stick to purchasing only what’s on that list. Ignore the sales, discounts and especially the items by the cash register.
2) Think green – buy veggies
This is a broad statement to make, as it depends on the country. Where I live, thankfully veggies are the cheapest kind of food to buy and the variety is wide and delicious. So I stock up on vegetables of all types, but without buying in excess to what I will be eating. I don’t want to have a ton of vegetables rotting in the kitchen! I try to make my meal plans have a lot of vegetables – whether it’s as the main meal or the sides. For the winter, you can make a variety of delicious soups. For the summer, salads and sides are a wonderful addition. Try different recipes and you won’t get bored with the veggies. The best part is, you improve your health, too!
3) Be a smart consumer – price compare
Check out different supermarkets and try to evaluate whether one is charging higher prices for the same items than others. You would be surprised to see the big reduction in costs that a simple decision like switching supermarkets can cause (for me, it was literally a saving of $50-100 each time I went grocery shopping!). Some countries/cities have established handy supermarket comparison sites where you can select a product and see how much it costs in a variety of supermarkets around you. There are also apps of this sort available, and you can also try scanning barcodes to give you price comparisons. Of course, there’s always the low-tech way to do this – pick a few items, manually head to the supermarkets to compare the prices and you’ll have an idea of which supermarket is providing the best prices.
Listen to what other people have to say – in my experience, family and friends have been 100% right about which supermarkets are the most and least expensive.
4) Follow coupon & sales blogs
Take advantage of great coupons and sales to save money on your regular purchases. Try to find blogs that feature these discounts and coupons for your region and prepare in advance before you head out grocery shopping. I also like to check the supermarket’s Facebook page and website for sales. Pay attention to coupons in newspapers or magazines that could help you save as well. If there’s an item that you buy quite often, stock up during a sale! It will save you money in the long run, but don’t do it Extreme Couponing style… limit yourself to what’s necessary and leave the rest for others to enjoy. Your time is also valuable and you shouldn’t spend it only couponing all day long!
5) Be selective – pick cheaper items
When you look at items, review all the different brands and what they have to offer. Take a look at the amount of the item (usually in terms of weight), the size, and anything else regarding the product that could influence your decision. Try to ignore the brand name, the drawings, logo, colors of the packaging and everything else that’s connected to packaging and marketing to convince you to pick their item over other brands’. You may notice that you’re paying the same amount for canned corn from one company offering 200g, then from another offering the same price for 270g worth. Maybe you’ll realize that the more popular brand is charging $0.50 more for the package but seems to have the exact same good as a competing brand. Be smart about your selections– lesser known brands may have great quality items as well, and for cheaper!