What’s your grocery bill look like? Reasonable or unreasonable?
Our monthly grocery bill was…obnoxious. So, for the past few months I’ve changed the way I shop. And it’s made a major impact on our wallet.
By implementing the following practices, I have been able to cut our grocery bill in half! Some of these things are more challenging, while others are a no-brainer. So for those of you who have lost control of your grocery shopping, try and take advantage of these suggestions. It’s truly worth the effort.
Disclaimer: I know some of these suggestions are not possible for everyone!
(1) Be willing to shop at places you don’t find that desirable
I live minutes from a really nice market. The outside is lovely and the inside is filled with gorgeous produce, a stellar butcher, a cafe, and a super friendly staff. There are no panhandlers and everyone who shops there takes showers daily. I love it. But a can of black beans is $1.29. Stupid expensive. Ten minutes further down the road, there’s another market. Not in a bad area, but um, there are a few panhandlers and the people don’t bathe regularly. The canned beans there are .62 cents. I can endure stinky people for that.
(2) Drive a little further and stop at several places
I love the time I save by shopping at the market down the street from my house. But by driving a bit further, I can save a bundle on money. And stopping at more than one place to get certain items, saves me even more. I remember my grandparents used to spend all afternoon driving to five or six different stores to get the best deal. That’s a bit excessive, but is three places? To save $50, I say it’s worth it.
(3) Don’t ignore those weekly flyers and coupons
I have never been a coupon cutter, and those weekly flyers in the mail always went straight into recycling. But I started taking a closer look and realized what bargains I have been missing. Some of my local markets have 2-for-1 deals on chicken and ribs, or 10 boxes of pasta at .69 cents each.
(4) Cut out the soda and chips
This is a tough one for me. We love our chips, crackers, nuts, and soda. But let’s be honest…it’s unnecessary. We don’t need chips and soda (although I would argue that a sandwich without chips or pizza without soda is sacrilege.) So, just maybe cut back, not cut out. Use it sparingly instead of snacking. And wait for your market to have great deals – at least one of my markets has a buy one-get one free sale on these items every other week.
(5) Buy generic
With the exception of a few items (like Ritz, Cheez Its, and Oreos, which we’re not supposed to be buying according to #4 ^^^, and also ANY of Walmart’s Great Value brand cereal, which is nasty IMHO), I would say that most generic product is comparable to brand names, but will cost you considerably less.
(6) Don’t buy pre-cut or individually packaged items
Ouch. I totally love the ease of getting butternut squash pre-diced and cheese already shredded. And what about those Nabisco snack-packs and trail mix for the kids’ lunches? Yes, the convenience of all of those can’t be beat. But the money you will save by cutting your own vegetables and purchasing in bulk, then making your own individual bags, is enormous. I compared it last month and my eyes sort of bugged out of my head.
(7) Menu plan and make lists
I’ve been doing this for years and honestly can’t imagine shopping any other way. But I’ve always done it from an organizational standpoint, not a savings perspective. By planning out your meals, and shopping one time a week, you not only get more organized and stop struggling with what to make for dinner in the 11th hour, but you save money!
(8) Utilize left-overs
Make your meals and grocery bill go farther by using left-overs in a new meal. (It’s amazing what you can throw together with melted cheese – think pizza or quesadilla!)
(9) Get a membership to a big box retailer/warehouse store
Have a Costco, Sam’s, or BJ’s near you? Get a membership. You’ll make back that $40-$55 annual fee in savings so fast. Maybe even in the first month, depending on what you need. A couple of things to keep in mind, though – go with a plan (don’t impulse shop), and always check per-unit pricing (just because something is in an enormous container doesn’t make it cheaper.)
(10) Skip the organic
What’s that you say? Are you serious, Amy? Ya…um…I know this one is going to be very unpopular. But sorry, friends. Organic, IMHO, is just another way for marketers to make money off of us. I have read articles, studies, taste tasted, and compared products. Yes, there are some fruits and vegetables that warrant buying organic because of the nasty pesticide residue, like celery, grapes, strawberries, and spinach (to name a few), but generally speaking, foods labeled organic are a waste of money. “Regular” food is not unsafe and rarely can you taste any difference.
I say this, though, as a person who isn’t paranoid about food contaminants. Yes, I pay attention to recalls, of course. But I don’t believe meat is bad for us, I don’t believe a donut on the weekend is bad for us, and I don’t believe that grains or carbs are bad for us. I believe all food, in moderation, is wonderful.
Do you have any other suggestions on how to save money on groceries? I’d love to hear them!