Tips for Spending Less on Groceries

Grocery shopping each week can take a huge bite out of your family budget, but it doesn’t have to. To save money without sacrificing your favorite foods or cutting out family dinners, here is Ryan Homes at Brunswick Crossing’s guide to saving money at the supermarket: 

Take an inventory of food that you already have. While you’re at it, note the food that has about one week until its expiration date. This will help you skip buying what you already have and start buying replacement items before things go bad. It will also help generate a list that you can stick to while shopping.

Talk to your family about what they do like and don’t like. We all know the story: We bring home something from the store that we think is healthier for our family, or we decide to try a new food that everyone may enjoy then it ends up going to waste. In fact, Americans toss out about 25 percent of their groceries, so before you stack your cart with random items, make sure somebody in your family will eat what you buy.

Use coupons. You don’t have to go all Extreme Couponing, but there’s a reason the trend is so popular. It’s the smartest way to save because grocery stores are literally handing you discounts. You might receive cutout coupons from the newspaper, or you can download and print coupons from websites like coupons.com, smartsource.com and redplum.com.

Ask for an IOU. One of the biggest grocery store secrets is asking the manager for an IOU. Only select stores uphold the policy, but it states that if an item you need was on sale and is now out of stock, you can ask the manager for an IOU, which states that when the item comes back in stock, you will get it for the sale price.

Go grocery shopping alone. Most people would rather keep some company, but it’s actually smarter to go shopping alone. About 65 percent of the average grocery store cart is filled with unnecessary items due to the persuasion from a larger party size.

Skip the price of convenience. Prepackaged deli sandwiches and salads look tempting during the work week, but you’re actually paying more for that plastic-wrapped meal than if you were to buy the ingredients separately. The same concept goes for frozen pizza, Lunchables and even sushi. Try to make a weekly meal plan to prep yourself for your trip to the supermarket.

Eat before you go. Your parents may have taught you this when you started grocery shopping by yourself in college, and they were right. Consumers are less likely to spend excess money if their desire to eat has been fulfilled. If you can’t grab a quick bite before your visit, pack mints to satisfy your urge to eat everything in sight. 

Grow your own fruits and vegetables. Growing a garden at home can be cost-effective and healthier since many supermarket foods have been sprayed with pesticides before delivery, and a lot of people have sifted through those crates. By growing and tending to your own garden, you can save money, have a healthier diet and spend time with your family. However, if you want to buy produce at the grocery store, look for seasonal deals. For example, pears are cheaper during November and December while mangos and broccoli are cheaper during March through May. 

Consider purchasing generic brands. We love our Utz, Bounty and Deer Park, but there are some items on your list that are offered in generic brands, and they work just as well or taste the same. You can buy baking ingredients, canned produce and frozen food in generic brands, but splurge on paper products and meat. Life’s too short to use bad toilet paper. 

Pay with cash. This tip can be tricky because many families spend a large amount of money on groceries per week. However, if you can take cash out to purchase these items, you can’t spend more than you have, which makes for an easy budgeting system.

The average American household spends almost $4,000 annually on groceries, which means every cent counts when it comes to saving money on your next trip to the supermarket. You can save up to 25 percent by shopping for generic brands, so stock up when something is on sale. Also, don’t go into a grocery store trip blind (or hungry). Make sure you know what to buy your family based on what they like and what you need.