I buy a few things consistently: cereal, eggs, and my husband’s over-priced bakery bread. So when I saw the boxes shrinking in the cereal aisle and the egg prices rising in the dairy section, I may have been guilty of “forgetting” to stop by the bakery. Finally, I caved. I adjusted my food budget. And then, I adjusted my food budget again.
Food prices are rising
According to the Consumer Price Index, a measure of the average change over time in the prices paid by urban consumers for a market basket of consumer goods, prices for grains rose 13.8%, while dairy rose 13.5%.
Inflation is often to blame for rising grocery prices. But what exactly is inflation? Inflation is when the cost of living increases, affecting the prices of groceries. The leading cause of inflation is increased production costs, which drive up the price of food. Other contributing factors include bad weather conditions, supply shortages, and increased consumer demand.
Despite all of this, there are a few ways to save on groceries despite inflation.
1. Shop around for the best deals
You may be surprised at how much you can save just by taking the time to compare prices at different stores.
Because grocery stores also have to pay for rent, staff, and other overhead costs, rising prices are passed on to the customer. It’s important to remember that not all stores are created equal. Some stores simply charge more for their products than others. This is why you should shop around and compare prices before you buy anything. Your wallet will thank you!
2. Use coupons
Coupons can be a great way to save money on groceries, so take advantage of them whenever possible.
Here are a couple coupon tips:
- Finding coupons can be easy if you know where to look. Check your local Sunday paper or sign up for online coupon websites.
- Stacking coupons can help you save even more money on groceries. Look for store coupons, manufacturer coupons, and even rebates to stack and maximize your savings.
- Stock up on sale-priced groceries when you have coupons. You’ll save money in the long run and keep your pantry stocked with essentials.
- Finally, always remember to read the fine print on coupons. Ensure you understand the terms and conditions to properly use the coupon and get the best deal.
3. Buy in bulk
Sure, bulk shopping can save you money. But it can also be a pain in the neck or ultimately bust your budget, especially if you’re not being strategic.
Here are some tips for taking advantage of bulk shopping without breaking the bank:
- Know what you need. This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s important to list the items you need before you head to the store. That way, you won’t be tempted to buy things you don’t need just because they’re a good deal.
- Join a club. Many bulk stores offer club membership, saving you even more money. Make sure you’re aware of the terms and conditions before joining.
- Think outside the box. Bulk shopping doesn’t have to be limited to groceries. You can often find great deals on other items, like clothes, household goods, and even electronics.
- Be prepared to store your haul. Buying in bulk often means finding a place to store the extra items. Make sure you have enough space before you buy anything.
- Know your expiration dates. Bulk items often have longer expiration dates than individual items, but it’s still important to check the dates before you buy. You don’t want to end up with expired food!
4. Shop at discount stores
We already mentioned price comparison between stores, but don’t forget about discount stores. Discount stores like Aldi or Lidl can be a great way to save money on groceries. How do they keep prices so low?
Here’s a breakdown of some of the ways Aldi helps you save on groceries:
- Aldi doesn’t accept manufacturer coupons. Since Aldi is a discount store, they don’t take manufacturer coupons as other grocery stores do. This means they don’t have to switch out inventory as often, which helps keep costs down.
- Aldi buys in bulk which helps them get discounts from suppliers. These savings are then passed on to customers through lower prices.
- They incentivize returning carts to the front of the store. You must insert a quarter to use a cart. To get the quarter back, you have to return it to the front of the store.
- Aldi has a small selection of items, which helps them keep costs down. They don’t have to pay for extra shelf space or staff to manage a more extensive inventory.
- They limit the types of cards accepted. Vendors are charged transaction fees, so they save by limiting the types of cards used during transactions.
- Aldi doesn’t offer frills. You won’t find fancy displays or extensive customer service here.
- Aldi offsets the cost of providing bags by charging for them. This charge is typically only a few cents per bag.
5. Meal plan
Planning meals can help you save money by avoiding wasted food and impulse purchases. Are you tired of eating out all the time or spending too much on groceries? If so, meal planning is for you! Meal planning can help you save money and time and eat healthier. Not sure where to start?
Here are some pro tips for meal planning:
- Make a list of your favorite meals. This will help you come up with ideas for your meal plan.
- Plan ahead. Decide what you will make for each meal a few days in advance. This will help you save time and money by avoiding last-minute trips to the grocery store.
- Be flexible. Don’t be afraid to change your plans if you’re not in the mood for what you originally planned.
- Make extra. Cook more than you need for each meal and pack the leftovers for lunch or dinner the next day.
Need a sample meal plan to get started?
Breakfast: Scrambled eggs with toast
Lunch: Garden salad with grilled chicken
Dinner: Spaghetti and meatballs
Breakfast: Oatmeal with raisins and almonds
Lunch: Turkey sandwich on whole wheat bread with a side of carrot sticks
Dinner: Grilled salmon with roasted vegetables
Breakfast: Greek yogurt with fresh berries
Lunch: Chicken Caesar salad
Dinner: Vegetarian, chicken, or beef stir-fry with rice
Breakfast: Blueberry pancakes
Lunch: Cobb salad
Dinner: Pork chops with mashed potatoes and green beans
Breakfast: Banana nut muffin
Lunch: Tuna fish sandwich on whole wheat bread with a side of grapes
Dinner: Margherita pizza
Breakfast: Bagel with cream cheese
Lunch: Grilled chicken wrap with a side of potato chips
Dinner: Hamburgers with roasted potatoes
Breakfast: French toast with bacon
Lunch: Chicken soup
Dinner: Pot roast with carrots and potatoes.
6. Avoid convenience foods
If you’re trying to save money, one of the worst things you can do is buy convenience foods. Microwaveable meals and pre-packaged snacks are almost always more expensive than their unprocessed counterparts.
There’s a reason for this: convenience foods are designed to be easy to prepare and consume. That means that companies can charge a premium for them.
So, if you’re looking to save money, avoiding convenience foods is best. Instead, take the time to cook meals from scratch and pack snacks. It may take a bit more effort, but your wallet will thank you in the end.
7. Grow your own food
Two years ago, a bundle of kale was $1.99 in season. Last week, it was $3.99, but we’re not paying $3.99. Instead, we go to the backyard and pick kale leaves. Do you want to learn how to grow your own food? It’s not as difficult as you might think!
Here are a few tips to get you started:
- Start small. Don’t try to grow everything at once. Start with a few items you really want to focus on, then expand from there.
- Know your climate. Make sure you choose plants that work well in your climate and plant them during the right season. Because I live in Florida, I grow greens in the winter and skip the summer season almost altogether.
- Also, focus on planting the right plant in the right place, paying particular attention to sun exposure.
- Be patient. Don’t expect everything to grow overnight. It takes time, so be patient and enjoy the process!
If you have the space, growing your own fruit and vegetables can be a great way to save money on groceries.
8. Buy seasonal produce
There are three things to consider when it comes to produce: what’s in season, what’s available locally, and what’s on sale. Here’s a quick guide to help you figure out what’s in season so you can save money and get the freshest produce.
What’s in season
First, let’s talk about what’s in season. Seasonal produce is typically cheaper because it’s more readily available. There are a few things to remember when figuring out what’s in season. First, fruits and vegetables have different seasons. For example, strawberries are typically in season from April to June, while apples are in season from September to November. Second, other parts of the country have different seasons. In the Northeast, for example, apples are in season from September to November, while in the South, they’re in season from October to December.
What’s available locally
Now that you know what’s in season, let’s talk about what’s available locally. Local produce is typically fresher and often cheaper than produce that’s been shipped from another state or country. To find out what’s available locally, check your grocery store’s weekly circular or ask the produce manager. You can also check online resources, such as LocalHarvest.org, which can help you find farmers’ markets and community-supported agriculture programs in your area.
What’s on sale
Finally, many grocery stores offer weekly specials on seasonal produce. You can also find good deals on produce that’s about to go out of season. So, when you see a sale, stock up!
9. Avoid processed foods
If you’re like most people, you probably think that eating healthy is expensive. After all, organic fruits and vegetables cost much more than their non-organic counterparts. And let’s not even get started on the price of sushi-grade tuna or grass-fed beef!
But what if we told you that processed foods are the most expensive items at the grocery store? That’s right – those pre-packaged, processed foods that are so easy to grab on the go cost you a lot more than you think.
Here’s a breakdown of why processed foods cost so much:
- Processing adds costs. The first reason processed foods cost more is the processing itself. Farms must pay for the machinery and labor to harvest, process, and package their products. This adds a significant cost to the final product.
- Packaging adds costs. The second reason processed foods cost more is because of the packaging. Companies have to pay for the materials and labor needed to package their products, adding an additional cost to the final product.
- Shipping adds costs. The third reason processed foods cost more is because of shipping. Companies pay to ship their products from the farm to the processing plant and then from the processing plant to the grocery store. This adds yet another cost to the final product.
- Advertising adds costs. The fourth reason processed foods cost more is because of advertising. Companies pay to advertise their products, upping that end price even more.
10. Make your own cleaning products
You can save money on groceries by making your own cleaning products using ingredients like vinegar and baking soda.
Cleaning products are essential for keeping your home looking its best. But they can be expensive, and some contain harsh chemicals that can harm your health. Fortunately, there are ways to save money on cleaning products without sacrificing quality or safety.
Here are a few simple recipes for making your own cleaning products:
- All-purpose cleaner: Mix equal parts vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Add a few drops of essential oil if you like. You can use this cleaner on most surfaces, including countertops, floors, and windows.
- Glass cleaner: Mix one part vinegar with two parts water in a spray bottle. Add a few drops of essential oil if you like. This cleaner works great on windows and mirrors.
- Carpet cleaner: Mix one part vinegar with two parts water in a spray bottle, adding a few drops of essential oil if you like. Spray the solution onto the carpet, then scrub with a brush. Vacuum the area when you’re done.
- Furniture polish: Mix one part vinegar with two parts olive oil in a spray bottle. Apply the polish to a soft cloth and rub it into the furniture. Wipe off any excess with a clean cloth.
- Stainless steel cleaner: Mix one part vinegar with two parts water in a spray bottle, adding a few drops of essential oil if you like. Then, apply the cleaner to a soft cloth and rub it into the stainless steel. Finish by wiping off any excess with a clean cloth.
Making your own cleaning products is simple, economical, and eco-friendly. So, ditch the store-bought products next time you need to stock up on cleaning supplies and try one of these recipes instead.
11. Make your own laundry detergent
Skip the Tide Pods and store brands. Making laundry detergent is a great way to save money. Store-bought laundry detergent can be expensive. Making your own detergent can get the same results for a fraction of the cost.
There are a few things you’ll need to get started:
- Bar soap: You can use any type of bar soap, but castile soap is a good option because it’s natural and gentle.
- Borax: This is a natural laundry booster that will help to get your clothes clean.
- Washing soda: This is a powerful cleaning agent that will help to remove stains and dirt.
- A grater: You’ll need this to grate the soap into small pieces.
- A container: This is where you’ll store your detergent. Make sure it has a lid, so it doesn’t get dusty.
To make the detergent, start by grating the soap into small pieces. Add the soap, borax, washing soda, and water to a large pot. Heat the mixture over low heat, stirring frequently, until the soap has dissolved. Once the soap has dissolved, remove the pot from the heat and let it cool. Once cool, pour the detergent into your container and seal it with a lid.
To use the detergent, add 1/2 cup to a full cup to your washing machine, depending on the load size. You can also use it to pre-treat stains by applying it directly to the stain and rubbing it in before washing.
12. Use a slow cooker
Using a slow cooker could be the answer if you’re looking for a way to save money on your weekly grocery bill. Here’s how slow cookers can help you save money:
Slow cookers are great for batch cooking. You can cook a large batch of food at once and then portion it out for lunches or dinners throughout the week. This is a great way to save money because you only cook once but get multiple meals.
Buy cheaper cuts of meat
Because the slow cooker cooks meat over a long time period, it breaks down the tough fibers and makes meat much more tender. This means that you can save money by using cheaper cuts of meat that you wouldn’t usually be able to use.
Use less energy
Slow cookers also help you save money by using less energy than other cooking methods. Because the slow cooker cooks food slowly and at a lower temperature, it uses less energy overall, saving you money on your monthly energy bill.
Finally, slow cookers are just plain convenient. They allow you to set it and forget it, so you can go about your day without worrying about dinner. This convenience is priceless and can help you save money by not having to eat out as often.
13. Join a CSA
A CSA, or Community Supported Agriculture, is a way for consumers to buy direct from local farmers. Joining a CSA is a great way to get fresh, seasonal produce at a fraction of the price you would pay at the grocery store. You’ll also support your local economy and get to know your farmers!
14. Get off the beaten path
Try shopping at Latin, Asian or other types of markets. These markets typically sell ingredients for less than traditional grocery stores, so it’s worth checking them out if you can.
15. Buy generic brands
There’s a lot of talk about generic brands these days. But what are they? Generic brands are basically the same product as the name brand, without flashy packaging and marketing. You’ll pay for the product, not the hype. So why do people buy generic? There are a few reasons.
Buying generic is usually cheaper
First, it’s usually cheaper. Generic brands often cost 20-30% less than name brands. That can add up to big savings, especially if you’re a savvy shopper who knows how to take advantage of sales and coupons.
Second, generic brands are often just as good as name brands. In some cases, they’re better. That’s because generic brands must meet the same standards as name brands. The difference is that they don’t have the same high marketing costs, so they can afford to sell their products at a lower price.
Avoid brand loyalty
Finally, buying a generic helps you avoid “brand loyalty.” That’s when you’re loyal to a particular brand, even if there’s a cheaper alternative. Brand loyalty can blind you to the fact that you’re overpaying for a product, and it can keep you from trying new things. So next time you’re at the store, don’t be afraid to try the generic brand! You might be surprised at how much you like it.
16. Use cash back apps
Cash back apps are one of the hottest trends in personal finance. And it’s no wonder why – who doesn’t love getting free money?
But how do they work? And which ones should you use to get the most bang for your buck?
Here’s everything you need to know about using cash back apps to save money on your groceries
How do cash back apps work?
Cash back apps work by giving you a percentage of your purchase back in the form of cash or rewards. For example, if you spend $100 at a store that offers 3% cash back, you’ll get $3 back in the form of cash or rewards.
Most cash back apps require you to link a credit or debit card to the app to track your spending and earn cash back. Some apps also work with specific retailers or stores, while others work with any merchant that accepts credit or debit cards.
Once you’ve linked a card to the app, you’ll need to activate any relevant offers before you make a purchase. This usually involves entering a promo code at checkout or selecting the cash back option in the app before you pay.
Once you’ve made your purchase, the cash will typically be deposited into your account within a few days. Some apps offer bonuses for meeting spending thresholds or shopping at specific retailers.
Which cash back app should you use?
There are a lot of different cash back apps on the market, so it can be tough to choose the right one for you.
Here are a few things to consider when selecting a cash back app:
- How much cash can you earn? Different apps offer different rates, so compare before choosing an app.
- Do you need to link a credit or debit card? Some apps require you to connect a card to track your spending and give you cash back, while others work with specific retailers or stores.
- What are the bonus rewards? Some apps offer bonuses for meeting spending thresholds or shopping at specific retailers.
- What are the redemption options? Some apps let you redeem your cash back for gift cards or merchandise, while others allow you to withdraw the money to your bank account.
Here are some of the best cash back apps to use for groceries:
2. Checkout 51
These apps are great for saving money on groceries, as they offer rebates on a wide variety of products. You can find rebates for in-store and online purchases, so you can save money no matter how you do your grocery shopping. Plus, they also have a very user-friendly interface, so you can easily find the rebates you’re looking for.
17. Check for discounts before you shop
Many stores offer discounts to seniors, students, and others, so ask about them before you start shopping. Also, check the store’s website or app. Most stores now offer some sort of online shopping, and many offer discounts to those who shop online. Before you head to the store, take a few minutes to check the website or app to see if there are any discounts available.
18. Use a rewards credit card
Did you know that you can actually use your rewards credit card to help offset the cost of your grocery bill? Here’s how:
Use a rewards credit card that offers cash back or points on grocery purchases.
Several rewards credit cards offer cash back or points on grocery purchases, so do your research to find the best one for you. Some even offer bonus rewards for spending a certain amount on groceries each month.
Use your rewards credit card for all of your grocery purchases.
Every time you use your rewards credit card for groceries, you’ll be earning rewards that you can use towards future grocery bills. So, use your rewards credit card for all of your grocery shopping if you’re really looking to save.
Use your rewards points or cash back to pay for groceries.
Once you’ve accumulated enough rewards points or cash back, you can use them to pay for groceries in full or partially. This can help you save considerably on your monthly grocery bill.
19. Ask for a rain check
So you planned your meals for the week and prepared to take advantage of a sale. However, the item is sold out when you get to the store. If a store is out of stock of something you need, ask for a rain check so you can come back and get it at the sale price later.
What is a rain check?
A rain check is a voucher that allows you to purchase an item at the sale price, even if the sale has ended. You can usually get a rain check if an item is out of stock or the store cannot honor the sale price for some reason.
Here’s how to ask for a rain check at the grocery store:
- Find the item you want to purchase on sale and ensure it’s in stock.
- Ask the cashier or customer service representative if they can give you a rain check for the item.
- If they say yes, they will probably give you a form to fill out.
- Fill out the form and submit it to the store.
- The store will then issue you a rain check, which you can use to purchase the item at the sale price within a certain time period.
20. Join a warehouse club
If you’re looking to save on groceries, one of the best things you can do is join a warehouse club. Warehouse clubs are membership-based stores that offer deeply discounted prices on bulk items.
While the upfront cost of joining a warehouse club may seem like a lot, the savings you’ll enjoy on your grocery bill will quickly compensate for it. In addition, many warehouse clubs offer additional savings on gas, travel, and other purchases.
So if you’re looking to save big on groceries, warehouse clubs like Costco and Sam’s Club offer discounted prices on groceries and other items, which is worth considering if you have the space to store extra food.
21. Shop at farmers’ markets
Farmers’ markets typically sell produce for less than traditional grocery stores, so it’s worth checking them out if you can.
Here’s why you might save money by stopping by your local farmers’ market:
- You’re buying direct from the source. You’re typically paying for the middleman’s markup when you buy produce from a grocery store. But when you buy direct from the farmer at a farmer’s market, you’re getting the best price possible.
- Farmers offer discounts for bulk purchases. Many farmers will offer discounts for larger purchases if you’re looking to stock up on fresh produce. This can help you save a significant amount of money in the long run.
- You can negotiate prices. Since there’s no set price for produce at a farmer’s market, you can always try to negotiate a better deal. This is especially true if you’re buying in bulk or the farmer has excess produce they need to get rid of.
- There are often free samples. Many farmers offer free samples of their produce, so you can try before you buy. This is a great way to save money if you’re not sure you’ll like a particular type of fruit or vegetable.
- You can find deals on seasonal produce. Since farmers need to get rid of their excess produce before it goes bad, you can often find great deals on seasonal fruits and vegetables. This is a great way to save money and eat healthy at the same time.
22. Use a food delivery service
Sure, you could go out to eat every night. Or, you could order in and save some cash. You don’t have to choose between your favorite restaurant meals and your budget with food delivery services. Here’s a breakdown of how food delivery can help you save money.
Avoid restaurant markups
You’re paying for more than just the food when you order from a restaurant. There’s also the overhead of running the restaurant, which gets added to your meal’s price. With food delivery, you’re only paying for the food itself.
Save on tips
Tipping is customary when dining out, but it’s not required when you order delivery. That’s another cost you can avoid with food delivery services.
Eliminate impulse purchases
You eliminate impulse purchases. When you’re at a restaurant, adding extra items like dessert or an after-dinner drink is easy. You’re more likely to stick to your original order and save money when you order delivery.
23. Go meatless one day a week
That’s right – giving up meat, even just for one day, can lead to substantial savings at the grocery store.
So how much can you really save by going meatless? A lot, actually. The average American family spends about $500 per year on meat, so by giving up meat one day a week, you could save over $250 annually. That’s a significant amount of money that can be put towards other things, like savings or debt repayment.
And it’s not just your wallet that will benefit from going meatless. Reducing meat consumption is also good for your health and the environment. So next time you’re at the grocery store, consider picking up some vegetarian options.
24. Pack a lunch
If you’re trying to save money, one of the best things you can do is pack your lunch. You’ll avoid spending money on expensive convenience store or restaurant meals by bringing your own food from home. Plus, you can control what goes into your food and how it’s prepared, so you can be sure you’re eating healthy.
25. Make a budget
Last but not least, budgeting is one of the best ways to save money on groceries and food. Planning ahead and knowing exactly how much you need to spend on food can help you stick to your budget and avoid overspending.
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