Groceries are one of the largest items in a monthly budget. Whether you’re a bachelor trying to save up some cash or a growing family facing ballooning expenditures, you may want to examine how much you’re spending at the supermarket. Here are seven simple ways to save money on groceries:
1. Make dinner menus ahead of time
Plan out all your dinners a week or two ahead of time. This lets you fill out a shopping list with the exact ingredients you need for the meals you’ll make. This keeps you focused in the supermarket aisles so you don’t buy things you don’t need.
2. Eat Leftovers for Lunch
When cooking dinner for yourself and your family, make some extra to take with you for lunch later in the week. You’ll have a good hot meal for less money than it takes to eat out.
3. Set a Realistic Budget and Carry Cash
After completing a few rounds of shopping using your organized shopping lists from Step 1, review your receipts and establish your new grocery budget. One way to lock in that budget is to pay for your groceries in cash only. If your budget is $200, bringing just that amount in cash keeps you within budget.
4. Join Loyalty and Rewards Programs
Major supermarket chains have rewards cards that help you in three ways. First, these cards let you take advantage of weekly sales. Second, you’ll receive special coupons targeted to items you buy frequently. And finally, many of these programs offer rewards points that help you save at the gas pump.
5. Buy In-Season Produce
Fruits and vegetables in season are usually abundant and of excellent quality. Produce in season not only tastes better, it’s often much less expensive. The USDA publishes a list of in-season produce that should help.
6. Grow Your Own Herbs
Buying those plastic containers of fresh herbs can cost several dollars each for leaves you may only use in one recipe. Herbs like basil, cilantro and mint can be easily grown at home, even in an apartment. Buy a potted herb plant for about the same price as those tiny grocery containers, and enjoy its yield all year round.
7. Don’t Shop Hungry
A study published by the National Society of Sciences confirmed that shopping while hungry “increases the accessibility of acquisition-related concepts and the intention to acquire not only food but also nonfood objects.” In plain English, we start buying things we don’t need.
Use these seven steps to make you a smarter, more frugal shopper. You’ll eat as well or better than before, and you’ll save some money on groceries in the process.