Grocery trips can save money, as long as you plan the right way! Here are six tactics to meeting your budget and saving money when out on food-buying trips!
1. Ban Unplanned Trips: Casual, spur-of-the-moment grocery store visits are trouble. You are more likely to buy only one or two items, which makes it easier to make unnecessary, extra purchases, and the tiny shopping trips like this can also waste gas and driving time. You are also more likely to be hungry on an unplanned shopping trip, which can also encourage unnecessary purchases without regard to current budgets. To save money, make every visit to your food store of choice a planned one. Plan out a careful list of what, precisely, your kitchen needs, and do not deviate from it. For best practices, only visit the grocery store a couple times each month.
2. Compare Stores: Prices differ significantly between grocery stores – and not always across the board. One of the wisest ways to shop for food is to compare stores located close to your home for prices (if the stores have in-depth websites, you may not even need to visit in person). Pick two or three places to visit based on their prices. Some stores with have especially good deals on fruit and vegetables, while other will have great prices for milk, eggs, and meat. Making a couple of stops – especially if you plan carefully, can often help save a lot of money compared to buying everything at one store.
3. Watch the Sales: Grocery stores are famous for their multitude of coupons, promotions, and sales. If you get the newspaper, take some time to note sales and incorporate discounted – but necessary – items into your shopping list. Searching grocery websites for deals advertised online is also a great way to spot potential savings. This strategy works especially well for products that you do not need immediately but can delay on stocking up until an ideal sale occurs and helps out your budget.
4. Believe in Store Brands: Most grocery stores offer both the big, well-known brands and their own, lesser-known store brand options. The primary difference between the two is marketing and price. The big brands invest more in marketing, and have higher prices. But if you can find a store brand version of the same product, it will probably be of similar quality, but less expensive. This is a great way to buy any sort of packaged good, from coffee and cereal to toilet paper and cleaning supplies. Instead of grabbing at the flashy, easy-to-reach option, stop a minute and search the shelves for the store brand. It may look drab, but it will save money.
5. Use Grocery List Apps: If you have a smartphone, consider downloading a grocery list app. Not only do these apps make it easy to plan a list that you always have with you, they can also link you up with the best grocery deals or advice. Apps like OurGroceries help spouses coordinate their grocery list needs, while Grocery IQ helps you plan a list then add items to with real retail prices included to help you plan out costs. Grocery Gadget, Shopping List, and many other apps offer similar services for no more than a few dollars.
6. Bulk Usually Works: Buying bulk is often a good way to save money. However, it does not always work – sometimes buying in bulk will cost you even more than buying smaller quantities. Follow two general rules when you buy in bulk at places like Costco: First, only buy bulk products that your family will actually use, and second, compare price-per-product between bulk items and the single product available at alternative locations. This helps you find out what savings buying in large quantities will really offer.
Robert Langdon is a professional blogger that writes for GreatDeals.com. Great Deals offers thousands of deals at hundreds of retailers across the web.