How to Slash Your Monthly Grocery Costs

How to Slash Your Monthly Grocery Costs

7 Savvy ways to cut your monthly grocery expenses 

Do one thing: Ask the other members of your household to make a list of their favorite meals. Use those lists to create a meal plan of 3-5 dinners for the week.

If there was ever a place to save money in your budget, it’s on what you eat and where you buy food. By making some adjustments, such as eating out fewer times a week and being strategic at the supermarket, you can often shave hundreds off your monthly food bill. Check out these tips for more ideas on saving money on groceries.

Meal Planning

For the person preparing a majority of meals, deciding what to eat can sometimes feel more challenging than actually making dinner. Don’t go it alone, get your family involved on the front end.

  1. Ask your family to list their favorite dinner meals from traditional comfort foods, family recipes, or other simple ideas.
  2. Create a binder for the meals and list out the ingredients you’ll need.
  3. Use the ingredient lists when making your weekly shopping list.

Tip: You can also search online for “free meal planners” for a variety of no-cost printables to help organize your efforts.

Switch to Store Brands

When you need to save money at the market, you can’t be loyal to a specific brand or a certain store for that matter. A great way to save is by switching to private labels, or store brands. The thing is, store brands are often made in the same factories and prepared in the same dairies as their more expensive counterparts, but cost less. Some store brands have gained cult status with Aldi and Trader Joe’s shoppers swearing by the lower-priced items.

Where You Shop Matters

Certain stores offer better prices on select items. For example, farmer’s markets offer in-season produce and other edibles (honey and baked goods) at a lower cost than most brick-and-mortar stores can match. If you only shop at one supermarket, it may be worth driving a little farther out to see the savings at other grocery stores in your area.

Buy in Bulk

If you have the space to store the extra items, buying in bulk (especially from national chains such as Sam’s and Costco) can be a money saver on several fronts. You’ll often pay less for buying in larger quantities and also make fewer trips to the store which saves on transportation costs and your time.

Buyer beware: The giant-sized box of cereal may not always offer the biggest savings.

Compare the unit price of items helps differentiate when the bulk is a good deal or just bulk. If your store doesn’t list the unit price, divide the price of an item by the number of ounces (or other measurement) to see how much you are paying per unit. Sometimes, the small bottles of olive oil cost less than the big ones.

 Shop The Sales

Don’t pay full price for the things that go into your shopping cart. When it comes to protein items for the week, if the chicken is cheaper than the turkey, or vice versa, opt for the lower-priced item. If hamburger meat costs more per pound than pork, choose the chops.

One great strategy is to check out the sales circulars (online or in print) when making out a grocery list for the week. When canned beans are on sale, use the opportunity to make your favorite soup or stew.

Couponing and Club Savings

If your local grocer has a club, join it. Also sign up for emails, which often alert shoppers early to upcoming sales and specials. Some chains, such as Fresh Market and Publix, offer club members exclusive perks such as free items on their birthdays or additional monthly coupons on baby items including diapers and wipes.

At Target, members with a red card earn five percent off in-store and online purchases, including groceries. There’s no fee to apply for the card and it works like a debit account with the amount of your purchase deducted directly from your checking account. Plus, those who use the Target app (Circle) can save an extra percentage off purchases and qualify for other discounts.

Cook Once, Eat Twice (or More) 

If you don’t already, it’s time to learn to love your leftovers. You can get creative here or look to food blogs for inspiration. An example? The remainder of last night’s rotisserie chicken can become today’s chicken salad for a quick and economical lunch.

With reporting by Casandra Andrews

Jean Chatzky

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