Groceries are obviously a necessity, but with a few easy steps, they don’t have to cost a big chunk of your paycheck.
Buy Groceries on Sale
Grocery stores are full of items that are either on sale or will be on sale. Price cuts will happen at some point. There are few exceptions to this, if any. And, for most items, markdowns happen in cycles. You can expect most grocery items to be marked down every 6 to 8 weeks. This is the time to buy enough so that you don’t run out before the next sale. This is a bit challenging at the beginning as you run out of stuff you haven’t been able to find on sale yet, but as you get in the habit of doing this, over time you’ll really notice the savings.
Look at the Price Per Unit
Sometimes your groceries just can’t wait until the next sale cycle – it’s hard to go 6 weeks without butter! But often you have a few options of the same item to choose from. That is, different brands or package sizes to pick from. What’s funny is that the bigger sizes are not always the least expensive. It’s up to you to make sure you’re choosing the most cost-efficient option for whatever it is you’re buying.
Most grocery stores help you with this by noting the cost per unit (typically by ounce) alongside their pricing. But, if they don’t, it’s super easy to figure out – using your calculator, divide the cost by the ounces or unit.
For example, a 64-ounce bottle of juice on sale for $2.00 will be $0.03 per ounce.
And consider generics. They’re often comparable quality to the brand name version, but cheaper because what you pay doesn’t need to cover their advertising. And, generics sometimes go on sale too!
Know Where to Shop for Groceries
Not all grocery stores price the same or have the same options to choose from. Lately, most of my grocery shopping comes from 2 stores, although I don’t necessarily go to each store every week – who has time, really? I like my local big grocery for their selection of items and great coupon policy. But I’ve also been shopping more at the discounter, Aldi’s, because of their very low prices and organic options. But, since they are smaller, they don’t have the wider selection the larger grocers have – I don’t understand why my local Aldi’s doesn’t sell grapefruit juice???
With that said, there are small, discount grocery stores in most towns. You can find out what’s near you by searching for “local discount grocery stores” in your browser. Then try out one or two of them. You may be surprised how much you could save on your groceries. To get you started, here is a list of 6 Cheap Grocery Stores in the US.
And don’t forget to check your local dollar store. Whenever I pop into mine, I like to check their bread aisle. Every so often I’ll find bread I like (non-bleached and no high fructose syrup) on their shelves. For $1!!! When I see these, I’ll grab 2 to 3 loaves and freeze all but one. Their merchandise changes quickly, so it’s good to act when you see something you like.
Farmers’ Markets are also great options for produce, cheeses, sometimes meats and all sorts of stuff that is grown locally. Not just are their prices usually lower, but you’re directly supporting local farmers. And, if you have questions about how something was grown, you can directly ask the farmer. This can be a really great food shopping experience.
We’ve saved thousands of dollars in the few years since I started really using coupons (I wish I’d found them sooner!). Not just on groceries, but in pretty much all aspects of my shopping life – once you start using them, you’ll notice coupons everywhere! What’s neat about coupons is that they’re treated pretty much like cash…just in a different form. Many retailers even let you combine store and manufacturer coupons for bigger savings. Recently, I’ve even managed to use coupons on top of competitor price matching – who knew?! The savings can be life changing! Take a look here at how I’ve been using them.