I am by no means an extreme coupon-er. I have never once gotten paid money back at the end of my checkout process. Also, I do not spend my free time scouring the newspapers for weekly deals or coupons.
I do, however, follow these 9 rules to help me keep my monthly grocery expenses reasonable.
9 Things you must start right now to save you more money at the store!!
- Make a list- on your phone– and stick to it!- Chances are that you already know deviating from your grocery list result in a higher than expected grocery bill. It also cost extra money…and time…to run back to the grocery store when you forget to buy something because you forgot it. Things get even worse when you completely forget the list at home on your fridge and you are stuck ‘winging it’.
My solution? Keep your list on the one item that you are guaranteed to have with you at all times; your phone! Use the notes app on your phone to keep a running list of everything that you might need at the grocery store. You will never have to worry about forgetting your list at home. Also, you can add that random item that you think about needing even when you aren’t at home.
- Plan your meals- I know that you’re busy, but this one thing will make a huge difference in saving money…and the time you put into this will save you even more time during the week. I don’t mean plan a four-course meal complete with a dessert for every day of the week but take some time and plan ahead. Think about at least 2-3 meals that you might want to have in the evenings, along with some lunch ideas.
Knowing what you are going to make helps you to shop for only what you need, and this equals money saved. It also ensures that you are not running back to the store throughout the week to get things that you forgot- again, money and time saved. Seriously, just give this a try. My weeks have become much less stressful once I devoted an hour on my Sundays to figure out what we will be eating for the week.
**To save even more money, you can even start planning you weekly meals around items that are on sale at your grocery store that week.
- Shop your pantry- Once you’ve decided what you are going to eat for the week, look at what you already have. I do this right before I leave the house to go to the store. It helps prevent you from buying duplicates of items just because you weren’t sure if you had it at home or not.
- Reduce frequency- Once you get the whole meal planning thing down, you will see that this happens naturally. With proper planning, you won’t have to do last minute stops at the grocery store to pick up a few items you need (and some items you don’t $$$). The less you can go to the store, the less money you will spend. We used to go to the store just once per week. I thought that was pretty good, but we decided to try to stretch our weekly visits out to every two weeks instead. We save even more money this way. Plus, that gives us more time at home instead of at the grocery store.
- Have a time crunch- The idea behind this rule is that if you are on a time crunch you will spend less time browsing the isles. In turn, you will be less likely to end up with random items in your cart that were not on the list. Be careful, though, you might end up forgetting items that you need if you are in too big of a hurry.
- Shop the perimeter- This tip is nothing new to people that are trying to eat healthy, but it can help you save money too. The ‘real’ foods such as fruit, veggies, meat, and dairy are found on the perimeter of the grocery store. Most of the processed snack and meal foods are found in the center isles. Shop the perimeter of the store first, then, go down only the center isles that contain items that you need from your list. This will keep that random package of cookies or bag of chips from sneaking in your cart and wrecking your budget (and your waistline).
- Bulk up- You don’t have to be a member of a wholesale club to take advantage of this one. If you come across a good deal on something that you use…bulk up. I like to do this when meat goes on sale. I buy a large quantity and then freeze it. This is great for using rule number 3 since it helps me keep more food that I will use on hand, which means it will save me money by not having to buy it at full price next time that food is on my weekly menu.
BE CAUTIOUS with this rule. Not every sale is a deal. Not every oversized package of toilet paper is actually cheaper. Look at how much you normally spend on things to determine if bulking up during that particular sale will save you money.
- Needs vs. Wants- Planning what you want to eat for the week and following a list will help cut down on buying unnecessary items at the grocery store but take a second look at that list. Do you actually NEED everything that you added to your list? or are there certain things that you WANT? If you are serious about saving money at the grocery store, it is time to get rid of your WANTS from the grocery list. I did this recently, and it was hard a first, but the lower grocery bill has made things a lot easier.
Here’s an example- We drink a lot of water in my house. We have good tap water and use reusable cups. However, we got into the habit of using flavored water additive. We were buying 3 bottles of ‘mio’ flavored water enhancer every week. At $3.69 per bottle, that is $11.07/ week; or $575.64/ year. I took one look at this math and I was done! No more Mio for us. To me, this was just a normal grocery item when we went to the store, but I realized that it was a want, NOT a need. It took a week or two to adjust, but we got over it and now just drink plain water from the tap.
- Use Shopping Apps- Shopping applications are great! I have an app for just about everything that I buy. Some examples include:
Ebates and Ibotta both give you money back on items that you are already going to buy, simply for using their app. The money back adds up really quick too! Raise is another great app. You can use Raise to purchase discount gift cards. Just hop on before you head out to the store and see if they have any discount gift cards available. If you are already planning to spend money at a store, this is a great way to save money before you even get there. FYI-
I plan to make a post soon to provide details on how and when to use these apps. I will add the link here when it is done! For now, feel free to click the links below to sign up today! They make it super easy to get money back.