Many of us are on a seemingly constant quest to get more money, save the money we have, or stretch it further to make it last longer. For several of us, it is a losing battle. With that being said, come along with me to take a look at five tips to reduce your grocery bill. If you reduce your overall grocery expenses, then the difference can go to another bill, or even better, in the bank for emergencies or a rainy day.
Plan your Meals: The most important thing to do before taking a trip to the store is to survey your cabinets. This way you can plan your meals around what you already have in stock, and prepare if you are running low on staples. This lowers your bill by purchasing less items, and eliminating extra items that you come home to find hidden in the cupboard. Planning meals will save you time too, and we all know everyone can use an extra few minutes a day for other activities.
Comparison Shop: Look at what is on sale and where. Many stores have online versions of their store circulars, so you can take time to look as you are making your list. Before you even leave your house, you will have a plan of action, knowing what items you are going to get from where. This will save you money on the items you have to buy, and you can save even more by planning your meals based on the best sales in the store, and the online browsing is yet another time saver, too.
Purchase Generics: Okay so this one is a no-brainer right? Well, not for all people, but if you pay close attention to the product labels of a brand name and a generic, many times you will find that they are the same thing. Granted, some items you just cannot forego the taste, but for the most part, the taste difference is negligible. If you have a fussy eater in the house, try putting the generic in the brand name container and watch for a reaction. I will bet you will not get one. In most cases, you are paying the extra money for the fancy packaging. Sometimes though, store sales will make the brand name cheaper than the generic, so I always fall back on the basic principle of buy whatever is cheaper. Unit price is another factor, because cheaper item does not mean better deal. If you can afford it and know you will use it before it goes bad, spring for the larger container because it will last longer, therefore reducing the overall bill.
Cut Corners: Follow your list. Do not purchase the impulse items. If it is not on your list, you do not need it. If you planned right, then you will not need something that is not on your list. Also, buy frozen juices, koolaid packets instead of the stuff with the sugar already mixed, etc. You are paying extra for water, sugar, and the container. You could just as easily add the sugar, water, or whichever ingredients to your own container and you have saved money. Also remember—with things like cleaning supplies, stretch them. Dilute your laundry detergent (liquid, anyway), dish detergent, etc. and reuse dryer sheets up to three times each. I am sure I have left some items off this list, but you know what you can get away with to make the money go further.
Make the Most of your Trips: Pick a frequency of your trips. Basing it on your pay period is the best way, because you will have the most money then. After setting aside your bill money, make groceries first priority so that you do not overspend on other items and sell yourself short. Make your list, double and even triple check it. Stick to it. No extraneous, unnecessary items. Little shopping trips will add up over time and you will seem to go through it even faster. Take the extra time while you are in the store to make sure you have everything you need instead of having to take another trip out to get it.
Following one or any of combination of these five tips will reduce your grocery bill. If you do not actually see a decrease in dollar amount being spent, you should see an increase in the amount of items you have on hand or decrease in items to purchase. Put these tips to the test and see how you do.