In the U.S., food is the third-largest expense for most people, and the number is steadily rising every year. The average person spends $8,169 per year on food. And the figure likely increased during 2020 when most people were safe at home for a majority of the year.
Food is tough to budget for because it’s a necessary expense, and it’s easy to justify occasional overspending. Once you get to the grocery store, you suddenly realize that you “need” certain items that aren’t on your list.
If you’ve been overdoing it on your food budget, then there are many simple action steps you can take to cut back. Let’s look at some ways you can save money at the grocery store every month.
How I'm Saving Money on Food Costs During QuarantineRead Post
How to Save at the Grocery Store
If you’re trying to cut back on your spending, the first step is always to come up with a realistic food budget for the month. A family of five will have to spend more on groceries than a college student living alone.
Figure out how much you actually need to spend on your groceries, and then commit to sticking to it no matter what. Here are seven steps to help you do it:
1. Avoid impulse purchases
The easiest way to overspend at the grocery store is by buying a bunch of items that aren’t on your grocery list. It happens so seamlessly — you’re walking down an aisle when you suddenly remember that you forgot to add laundry detergent to the list. So you add some to your cart.
Then you see that cherries are on sale and think about how long it’s been since you’ve eaten cherries. Before you know it, you’ve unintentionally added an extra $40 worth of items to your cart.
When you go grocery shopping, you should always avoid the urge to impulse shop. Instead, if you remember an item you need, add it to your list so you can plan to buy it next time.
2. Shop generic brands
Many people buy name-brand items out of habit or assume the quality is better than generic brands. But you can save quite a bit of money by buying generic items, and you’ll often find that you don’t notice a difference in taste.
How I Save Money Every Month Buying Generic BrandsRead Post
3. Look above and below eye level on the shelves
Most grocery stores place the brand-name items at eye level, which is why many people instinctively pick them first. By making a habit of looking at the shelves above and below eye level, you’ll often find deals that you would’ve missed otherwise.
4. Plan your menu based on sale items
One of the best ways to save is by planning your weekly menu based on what’s on sale. For instance, if you notice that ground beef, tomatoes, and shredded mozzarella are on sale for the week, you can plan to make lasagna or spaghetti for one of your meals.
You can also save money by only buying fruits and vegetables that are in season. This will help you save money on your produce every month.
5. Use cashback apps
Another great way to save money while you shop is by taking advantage of cashback apps. These apps literally pay you money to shop at the grocery store. Here are some of the best options to consider:
- Fetch: The Fetch Rewards app is available on iOS and Android devices. You can earn points for shopping at a variety of retailers, including grocery stores. After you finish grocery shopping, you’ll snap a photo of your receipt, and for every eligible scan, you’ll earn five points. You can use the Fetch app to redeem your points for free gift cards.
- Ibotta: To use Ibotta, you’ll start by downloading the free app on your mobile phone. When you head to the grocery store, you’ll tap on “Find offers” at the bottom of the screen and then select your favorite grocery store. This will let you browse through the items available for cashback rewards. When you’re done shopping, you’ll upload your receipts to your account and receive your rewards within 24 hours.
- Rakuten: Rakuten also offers rewards for in-store grocery shopping. Before you shop, you’ll link the in-store cashback offers to your credit or debit card. You’ll use that same card to pay at the grocery store. Once the store has confirmed the purchases, you’ll see your cashback rewards show up in your account.
6. Compare prices
It’s easy to get into a habit of shopping at the same grocery store every week. It’s convenient, and you know where everything is. But you could save a lot of money by shopping at a less expensive store.
For instance, stores like Aldi and Walmart are some of the most inexpensive for basic grocery items. If you prefer organic food, shop at Trader Joe’s instead of going to Whole Foods. And every week, before you go grocery shopping, browse through the flyers at different grocery stores to see which one is offering the best deals.
Is a Membership to Places Like Costco and Sam’s Club Worth It?Read Post
7. Use coupons
Clipping coupons is still a great way to save money at the grocery store. SmartSource, Coupons.com, and Valpak are all great resources where you can find printable coupons online. Or you can clip coupons from your local newspaper or request free coupon books in the mail.
The Bottom Line
For most people, grocery shopping will always make up a big chunk of their budget. But by planning ahead and being intentional, you can save money at the grocery store.
Do you use any of these strategies to save money on groceries? Let me know in the comments!