I used to spend around $120 a week or more on food. I would get home, look at the minimal amount of food I purchased and be confused at how I managed to spend so much. I was awful at shopping, but over time, I was lucky enough to figure out some tips and tricks that helped me to get to the point where I now spend $50 or less a week on food while rarely using coupons. The great thing is that I'm not skipping meals or snacks to save money, and I'm still eating delicious foods. Want to lower your grocery bill? There are several tips and tricks to keep in mind so you can significantly cut down your bill to $50 or less a week on food as an individual.
Shop at the dollar store
I'm a big fan of dollar store shopping, and it's often that I'll stock up on items that are more expensive than at the grocery store. For example, a bag of dried beans at the grocery store will usually cost $2 or more, while it's just a buck at the dollar store. I recently purchased frozen asparagus while at the grocery store; it was close to $3. Frozen vegetables are one of the items I go for the most. It seems like a minimal amount of money, but it adds up.
Make a list
Making a list is one of the biggest ways I was able to save money on grocery shopping every week, but the key is actually sticking to that list. It takes willpower, but it works out really well in the end. There were a few times I slipped and bought additional items, but sticking to the list has become more of a habit now than an annoyance.
Read the flier
As you're making your list, go through the store flier and see what the sale items are. Often, I won't buy items that aren't on sale unless I really have to. Write down the prices next to the items on your list so you can ensure you're getting the items for the right price.
Watch the scanner
There were several times when prices were increased in the supermarket too soon when they were supposed to still be on sale, and when I brought up the error to the customer service department at the supermarket, they gave me the items for free as per their policy. Had I not been watching the scanner, I wouldn't have noticed and wouldn't have walked out with a few free groceries.
Go only once a week or less
I refuse to go grocery shopping more than once a week unless necessary. There were times when I went to pick up an item I was really craving or needed and ended up with a couple of more items in the process, especially if I was short on the willpower that day. Avoiding it all together can do wonders.
Do the work yourself
Sure, it's convenient to buy a ready-made chicken instead of cooking it yourself, or buying canned beans instead of dried ones in a bag, but the price difference can be huge, especially over a long period of time. You're essentially paying for the convenience of the ready-made food and for someone to do the work for you. Setting even an hour or two aside a week to prepare the foods yourself can mean big savings.
Check the clearance rack
There are some stores that have a small section of clearance items available where you'll pay a fraction of what you would pay if it were on the shelf simply because the package is a little beat up. While I wouldn't recommend buying smashed cupcakes, there's likely nothing wrong with a box of popcorn just because it has a dent in the side of the box. Inspect the packages carefully and use your judgment about what to buy.
Cook in bulk
Rarely, will I make a single meal at a time. Rather, I'll make several types of meals in bulk, separate each one into two or three containers and freeze at least half. I'll have enough food for a week or more, depending on what I cook. Not only is it easier when it comes to eating meals, but it saves me quite a bit of money.
Buy crossover items
When I go shopping, I'm usually thinking about how I can do double duty with what I buy. For example, I'll buy a pack of chicken and make three meals from it, or a bag of beans and make chili and soup. I won't buy a food item that I'm not going to use at least two times or more, and I'll always have a plan for another meal to make with it, rather than just have it sit and go bad.
Buy store brands
If there's a store brand of a food item, I'll usually get that over getting a brand name, unless I really don't like the taste of it. Most items are typically a fraction of the cost of a brand name but usually tastes exactly the same.
If there's a coupon for an item readily available, I'll use it, but I'm not going to go out of my way to find one. There's obviously nothing wrong if you do and it helps save you money, but there's not usually coupons available for items I want to buy. However, don't hesitate to check online or in your store flier for coupons to help you chop more money off your bill.
There are those who walk into a supermarket with no plan, because they say making one is way too much work. It's actually not. Most people don't have all this time to come up with a huge plan on how to shave money off their grocery bill. All it takes is a little effort and some planning and you can have all the delicious food you want without emptying your bank account in the process. At the end of the week, it's more than worth it.
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