Grocery shopping on a budget can be a challenge, to say the least. In this economy, many families struggle to feed their families while paying the rest of their bills. The grocery bill, however, is one expense that can be trimmed down with careful planning. Here are five practical tips for grocery shopping on a budget.
1. Make a List and Stick to It
Following a list is one of the best things one can do to avoid impulse buys at the grocery store. An easy way to know exactly what you need on your next shopping trip is to keep on ongoing list. Keep a notepad handy in the kitchen—or a piece of paper posted on the fridge—to jot down items when they run out. This way, there is no guesswork in the grocery store, no wandering up and down the aisles to try to remember what is needed. Keeping your eyes looking for the items on the list will keep roaming eyes from being tempted by all the tasty-looking items that are not on the list. Having a list and sticking to it is imperative in keeping down grocery expenses.
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2. Compare Store Prices
Before you take your list to the closest store or the biggest supercenter to do your grocery shopping, take a little time to compare store prices. Look in the local paper on the day that grocery ads come out to see which stores have the best deals. Running from store to store isn’t going to cost extra gas, so look for the store where you can save the most money, as you compare their sale with the items on your list. If you don’t have access to a local paper with grocery store ads, sign up for individual stores’ weekly ads online to have their sales delivered right to your email inbox. Many stores will match advertised prices from other stores, which can save even more money—at just one store.
3. Buy Certain Items in Bulk
Buying foods in bulk generally lowers the per ounce price. Buy the larger quantities of what your family eats most. Do check the price per ounce to see that you are getting the better deal. An occasional trip to a local warehouse or club-type store to stock up on essentials could save you a lot of money on your grocery bill. Items such as paper towels and toilet paper are often cheaper in bulk and will last indefinitely. Dry foods are often cheaper bought in bulk. Meat is also cheaper in bulk and can be divided up and frozen for later meals. When buying in bulk, think smart. Don’t buy large amounts just because it is cheap. When food goes to waste, money is being wasted rather than saved. So make sure that your family will use up any items bought in bulk before the food expires.
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4. Buy Staples that Stretch Your Overall Food Budget
To really cut down your total food budget, buy cheaper staples that will be a part of many of the family’s meals. Foods such as beans, rice, potatoes, and pasta are cheap, especially when bought in bulk, and will last for a long time when properly stored. Make sure they are stored in air-tight containers if they are going to be around for long in order to prevent bugs from getting into the packages. Many daily and weekly meals can be made mostly of such staples, supplemented with small cuts of meat or sides of vegetables, fruits, breads, and other foods. Having meatless meals, with beans as a protein substitute, can cut your grocery budget substantially, especially for a large family, as meat is much more expensive than bags of beans. Beans are plentiful and healthy, too.
5. Use Coupons for Items You Already Buy
Everybody hears about using coupons, even to the point of “extreme couponing,” where couponers collect all the coupons they can, put them in a binder, continually compare store prices, and try to get items as cheap as they can—or even free. This is not a bad practice, as it can save shoppers hundreds of dollars. However, it is time-consuming and does require effort and expense to locate the coupons and continually visit various stores to get the best deals. If that appeals to you, it can certainly save you money on your grocery bill. If, however, you just don’t have the time for the extreme but want to use coupons in some way, just commit to using coupons for items you already buy. Buy a Sunday—or other—paper that has weekly coupons, or sign up on various websites that provide printable coupons. Look through the coupons, clipping only those for brands of grocery items you are already buying. You might as well save a few dollars on items already on your grocery list.
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Did you know that you can even shop for groceries online? You can save on groceries as well as gas, as your food items are delivered right to your door. Save on several sites with these grocery coupons and Amazon discount codes.