A brand-new year brings new budgets, but costs seem to continue rising. Foods and sundries seem to top the list for increased pricing each year. What specific steps can you take to keep these basic expenses in check?
Try these 10 ways to save money on groceries this year.
Maybe you’ve already implemented a few of these practical pointers. Others may sound new. It can be surprising to see how quickly the savings can add up, once these frugal methods become routine at the grocery store.
1. Add up a shopping list – and stick to it.
This is a critical step. Taking a quick inventory at home before going to the store adds focus and cuts costs. The secret is simple: If it’s not on the list, it doesn’t go in the shopping basket or cart.
2. Beware of quantity discounts.
Retailers love to create special displays that seem to offer great deals, but only when shoppers purchase prodigious amounts of the highlighted products. Sometimes 12 jars of jam are not such a super buy, once a consumer does the math.
3. Choose cash over credit.
Many a shopper finds added self-restraint in a store, if he or she has to count out actual currency at the checkout counter, instead of merely sliding a plastic debit or credit card through a machine.
4. Collect coupons.
Paper coupons and online coupon codes really do help shoppers save money, but only if the offers apply to products those folks already plan to buy. Smart consumers scan or photograph coupons and keep them on their phones.
5. Go for generics.
Plenty of store-brand products are actually produced by big-name manufacturers. When possible, choosing these over branded items can add up to big savings.
6. Make your own mixes.
Convenience products almost always cost extra. Buying heads of lettuce, whole fruit, plain pastas or rice, and single spices is virtually always cheaper than picking up their prepared counterparts.
Plus, it’s often a lot healthier, as do-it-yourself dishes are less likely to be laden with heavy salt and preservatives.
7. Shop alone.
Ask any parent about the cost differentiation between a shopping trip with a posse of youngsters and a solo excursion.
8. Skip single servings.
Like prepared foods, snack-sized packets of everything from cookies to chips to fruits or vegetables nearly always carry higher per-pound price tags than larger units. Savvy consumers buy the bigger packages and divide them up at home for lunchboxes or portable eating.
9. Split your shopping.
Grocery stores carry personal care items and over-the-counter medications, but these frequently cost less at discount drug stores and big-box bargain outlets. Sure, that means consumers have to make additional stops, but the savings may be well worth the effort.
10. Use customer loyalty benefits.
How big is your key ring? Shoppers who frequent certain merchants may do well, at least from a cost-cutting standpoint, by enrolling in customer loyalty programs. Most of these offer on-the-spot discounts for cardholders, based on cashier scanning of coded cards or key tags.
Simple steps can lead to significant savings for foods and basics, especially over the course of a year.