Santa Barbara
69° F
Clear
Clear
Santa Maria
71° F
Clear
Clear
San Luis Obispo
74° F
Clear
Clear
Ventura
75° F
Clear
Clear

Cut grocery bills with these 15 tips

Published On: May 16 2011 04:48:44 PM CDT   Updated On: Jul 26 2013 11:41:28 AM CDT
groceries

iStock/YinYang

A grocery budget can get out of control fast, so it pays to be frugal. Without proper planning, an extra $100 or more can disappear from a monthly budget very quickly.

Here are some tips to help save some cash, along with some sanity, at the grocery store.

1. Don't shop for groceries when you are hungry.
It's just common sense, right? And yet, it's the most important thing when it comes to saving money and staying under budget at the grocery store. Going to the grocery store hungry will make everything look good, and therefore a necessity, causing you to spend more money than you should. Have a snack before you go, and your budget will be happier.

2. Always make a list.
Creating lists will not only help ensure that you don't find yourself back at the grocery store three days later because you forgot to get some eggs, but they will also lead you to exact points of the grocery store for the items that you need and help you to bypass the impulse items that you really don't need. Focus on the list and try not to diverge from it.

Along the same lines, try to cut the number of visits you make to the grocery store. Instead of shopping twice a week, shop for two weeks' worth of groceries at a time.

Why? One study says the average U.S. consumer spends more than $10 on impulse buys every trip to the supermarket. By cutting trips from twice a week to once every two weeks, you can save more than $500 a year on your bill and still get every item on your list.

3. See what's on sale.
Visit your favorite supermarket online before you head out and see what's on sale. You can often get great deals on items like low-sodium chicken broth. The American Dietetic Association suggests that since these have a long shelf life, you might as well stock up. Every week, check the frozen vegetable section and buy what's on sale so you always have a variety of mixed vegetables in the freezer.

4. Take a calculator.
Having a calculator allows you to keep a running count on how much you have left in your grocery budget. Remember to account for sales tax. Rounding up the prices to the nearest $.50, $.75 or $1 should help with this so you don't have to be too precise.

Also, remember that just because something is less expensive, it doesn't necessarily mean it's a better deal. For example, two boxes of pancake mix sit side by side, one is $2.50 and the other is $3. Don't just thoughtlessly grab the $2.50 one. Check the volume and use your calculator to determine the best value for your dollar.

5. Make a menu for the week.
A menu for the week serves a similar purpose to a list. Pick meals for the week that all incorporate similar ingredients so that you don't have to buy a lot of different items.

6. Stretch your menu.
Plan your meals in a way that will allow for leftovers to be used for various meals throughout the week. There are 21 meals in a week, and by stretching menus with leftovers, you can reduce the number of meals you have to start from scratch.

7. Don't waste food.
If you buy it, eat it. Be creative. Similar to the "stretch your menu" step above, don't waste money on prepared foods. Instead, prepare meals ahead of time and freeze them, or double a recipe when cooking and freeze the second half for a hectic day coming up.

One recent study said the average family throws away 14 percent of the food it buys. On a $150 weekly bill, that is more than $1,000 back into your pocket every year.

When meal planning falls short and the meat in the fridge will go bad before you have time to eat it, freeze it as soon as possible to enjoy later. Make sure the meat or other food product is packaged properly; it's generally safer, and will make the end product better, if the product is placed in an airtight bag or other packaging.

8. Grocery shop backward.
The cheapest items in the grocery store (produce) are the first items that you see. Start from the other end and work your way back. You'll be purchasing the most expensive items first and will know how much you have remaining for the fruits and vegetables.

Also, make sure your veggies and fruit are dry before you put them on the scale. If they have just been sprayed with water, they will weigh more and cost more.

9. Make use of ads and coupons.
Watch for store newspaper ads and coupons. Take advantage of coupons and sale items, but be sure your family will use a "bargain." If they won't, it's no saving.

10. Shop alone.
Shop by yourself, if it's at all possible. It you go without your kids or spouse or friends, you won't be led astray by anything they want to buy. If the children have to come along, provide a book or handheld video game to occupy them.

11. Compare brands.
Look at the cost and the quantity. Usually the store's own brand is cheaper, but not always.

12. Compare stores.
Look at prices in several stores, if you have a choice. If you find one store is generally less expensive, stick with it.

13. Compare forms of food.
Buy a lower-cost form of a product if there's no major difference between them. For example, try the day-old bread, if it is to be eaten soon. Also, take time to compare frozen, fresh and canned products.

14. Look down.
Here's a tip you may not have heard of before: Look down while shopping at the grocery store. In many grocery stores, the best bargains are closer to the floor. The pricier items are often at eye level.

15. Skip specialty items grouped together.
Things like chips and dips together can result in impulse buying, according to Quick and Simple magazine. And seeking out the bargain bins can save money, too.

Comments

The views expressed are not those of this company or its affiliated companies. Please note by clicking on "Post" you acknowledge that you have read the Terms Of Service and the comment you are posting is in compliance with such terms. 
blog comments powered by Disqus
  • UPDATE: Dog Killer Duanying Chen Released to ICE Officials

    The Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department announced that inmate Duanying Chen was released directly to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials.

  • Source: Lompoc Police Department

    Santa Maria Man Arrested After Attempting to Cash Counterfeit Check

    A Lompoc business owner is being credited with helping to catch a man attempting to cash a counterfeit check.

  • Fans Welcome Johnny Depp in Santa Barbara

    Hundreds Welcome Johnny Depp to Santa Barbara

    Thousands of fans showed up in downtown Santa Barbara Thursday night to catch a glimpse of Johnny Depp who received the Santa Barbara International Film Festival's Maltin Modern Master Award.

  • Takata Airbag Scandal

    Tipline Investigation: Takata Recall Tames A Mustang

    The growing scandal involving Japanese airbag maker, Takata, may cost a Santa Paula man his dream car. Even worse, those defective airbags could cost someone their life.

  • Film Feast 2016

    Annual Food Feast Underway in Santa Barbara

    Free tickets aren't the only thing people will be lining up for at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival:  they might find themselves  turning to food.

  • Santa Maria Youth Violence Round Table

    Santa Maria has been through a rash of violent crime and murders in the past year that has shaken the All-America city.

    Six homicides in January of this year followed 13 murders in 2015.

    KCOY 12 is committed to bringing you stories of those who are working to make a difference and end the violence on our streets.

    Scott Hennessee and Melissa Mahan sat down with three people who are committed to helping young people in the community. Los Prietos Boys Camp Director Laurie Holbrook, Fighting Back Santa Maria Valley Program Specialist Chastity Johnson, and Center for Employment Training Director Gabriel Morales all agree the deadly violence in Santa Maria is the worst they've ever seen in the city.  Our next question was, what's changed?

  • Go Red For Women Day

    Wear Red Today!

    Today is Wear Red Day and join our news teams as we are wearing red to help raise awareness for heart disease and stroke.

  • Local Oil and Gas Workers Losing Jobs

    Freeport-McMoRan laying off dozens of employees

  • Oscar Flores photo

    Slideshow: 2016 SBIFF Opening Night

    The Santa Barbara International Film Festival kicked off it's opening night with The Little Prince, starring Jeff Bridges and Mackenzie Foy, and Directed by Mark Osborne.

  • Oscar Flores photo

    Slideshow: Johnny Depp - 2016 Maltin Modern Master

    Johnny Depp was honored with the Maltin Modern Master Award at the 31st Santa Barbara International Film Festival. Renowned film critic Leonard Maltin returned this year to moderate the event at a packed Arlington Theater.

Advertisement