If you have been to the grocery store recently, you may have experienced a bit of sticker shock. With prices on the rise, many families find it increasingly difficult to afford the staples they need. In the face of all this uncertainty, it has never been more important to save money where you can.
You may not be able to stop eating, but you can make your food dollars stretch further with every trip to the grocery store. Here are ten easy ways to save money at the grocery store.
Learn some basic cooking skills.
If there is one thing you can do to reduce your grocery and food spending, it is… learn how to cook. Taking an introductory cooking class or using online videos to learn some skills will change the way you shop - and ultimately save you a lot of money.
Focus on unprocessed foods.
Processed foods and convenience items may be easy, but they can also be expensive. Unprocessed foods are not only better for your body, but suitable for your budget as well. Pro Tip: Shop the perimeter first. The freshest items are usually around the perimeter of the store; produce, dairy, and meat. The processed, more expensive items are generally in the middle of the store.
Shop at the local farmer's market.
Shopping at farmer's markets is a great way to support local farmers, but it is also a solid money-saving strategy. One trick for additional savings is to shop right before closing when stand holders are packing up their boxes and are more likely to provide you with some bargains on unsold produce.
Embrace store brands and generics.
If you have never tried store brands and generic products, you could be missing out on something great. Generics and store brands are often as good as brand name products; in some cases, they are actually better.
Stock up on sale items.
Every grocery store relies on promotions and loss leaders to get customers in the doors, and they hope that they will buy lots of full-price items while there. You can beat the supermarket gurus at their own game by stocking up on those sale items, filling your pantry with cut-rate staples, and making your food budget stretch that much further.
Click (and download) coupons.
Despite what many people think, coupons are still very much alive, and they can save you a lot of money. These days you are likely to find many of those coupons online and at the website of your favorite grocery store.
Shop at discount grocery stores.
Cut-rate grocery stores can save you a lot of money, especially if you are willing to take a chance on unknown brands or different products. If you have never shopped at a discount grocery store before, check it out; you may be pleasantly surprised at what you find there.
Never shop without a list.
Grocery retailers are experts at enticement, and they stock their checkout lanes with impulse buys. Shopping without a list is a great way to succumb, so make a detailed list and check items off as you put them in your cart.
Keep a price list in your pocket (or on your phone).
Sometimes products that look like a bargain are anything but and keeping a list of prices in your head would be a cumbersome process. However, maintaining a list of frequently purchased items and their prices, either on paper or your phone, is a great way to make sure those enticing bargains are worth buying.
Do what you can to avoid food waste.
Every piece of food that gets thrown away is more money out of your pocket, so avoiding food waste is good for your wallet and your fellow citizen.
With food prices on the rise and uncertainty at every turn, it has never been more important to save money wherever and whenever you can. While some purchases can be put off until prices stabilize, things like gas and groceries are absolute necessities, and the money you save in those areas can relieve your strained budget and help you survive financially in an increasingly expensive world.
By BALANCE, A First Northern Credit Union partner in financial wellness