You've probably already tried to shrink your grocery bill before, but without any luck.
Maybe you tell yourself every week "I'm not going to pick up anything extra today" but end up doing it anyways. You're not alone! Food is the hardest part of your budget to keep under control, and grocery stores don't want to help you save money.
But we promise that if you stick to the 17 tips in this guide you will start seeing incredible savings on your grocery bill. The key is to spend a bit more time planning your trip every week. With a little knowledge you'll be a cost-cutting pro in no time!
1. Buy veggies and cheese in bulk
Now that stores like Costco have become popular, we've gotten used to buying our groceries in huge sizes to save money. The one part of the store where this trend hasn't caught on (yet) is the produce department. You can buy lots of your favorite veggies (as well as cheese) when prices are low, then freeze them for later.
2. Stick to one trip a week
The grocery store is designed to make you spend money, so it pays to go there as little as possible. Plan one big trip a week and you're already saving money on gas.
3. Make a list (seriously!)
Sure we all scribble down "milk, cheese, eggs" before we leave the house, but then we're surprised when we splurge on things we don't really need. Sit down for at least 10 minutes and really think of what you need to buy today. It helps if you...
4. Plan half your meals
Knowing what you want ahead of time really lets you narrow down your list, plus it means you'll have leftovers during the week. For best results, plan around what's cheap in this week's flyers.
5. Learn the produce seasons
Certain fruits are as much as 40% cheaper when they're in season, and it's easy to check which ones using this guide. To make the most of the season, buy lots of smaller fruits like berries when they're discounted and freeze them.
6. Don't be tricked by sales
If your family hates lima beans, it's not a deal to get three cans of them for $1. Be sure to look out for sales on things you already buy, but don't add anything to your cart just because it's discounted.
7. Learn you most common purchases
Saving $10 on your store's deal of the week is great, but to make a big impact on your bill you need to focus on food you buy every week. Keep track of the 10 items you always pick up and compare nearby stores to find the best deals.
8. Check what's in your kitchen
If you buy an extra container of honey because you didn't realize there was a full one at home, that's money wasted. Every month or so give your cupboards a cleaning and take stock of what you own.
9. Cook what's in your kitchen
You may open your fridge and see "nothing," but odds are you actually have enough for a delicious family meal. Websites like SuperCook let you search for recipes using the ingredients in your fridge.
Be sure to double up on your money tips with these suggestions for surprisingly affordable luxury items.
Or, if you'd prefer, just be happy about all the money you saved and congratulate yourself with a magazine at the checkout rack.
10. Make the most of their coupons
You don't need to become "the coupon lady" to save some money. Download an app like SnipSnap to save and store coupons, then wait until the item goes on sale for double the savings!
11. Only buy food
What's the difference between buying laundry detergent at the grocery store and buying it at the dollar store? It costs too much at the grocery store! Pretty much anything that's not edible can be found cheaper somewhere else.
12. Bring a calculator
Add to your total every time you put something in the cart. Seeing the added cost of your impulse purchases will scare you into staying on-budget.
13. Buy bulk and repackage
Spend a little money now on Tupperware and you'll save lots by packing your own snacks and juice in smaller containers.
14. Don't shop on an empty stomach
It sounds funny but it's true! Science shows you spend more when you've got the munchies. To counteract this, bring some mints when you shop. Chewing on them will convince your brain you feel full.
15. Compare prices from store to store
16. Look over your bills for problem items
If you find you're spending too much on the same thing week in and week out, cutting it out is an easy way to save. Circle the three most expensive items on your receipt and think about whether you really need them.
17. Rain check please!
Of course that great deal you had your eye on is sold out by the time you get to the store. Ask for a rain check at the customer service desk, some stores will honor the sale price for months and all you have to do is ask!