Seven Highly Effective Tips for Savings at Grocery Store
Here are a few strategies that I implement every day to reduce my monthly grocery expenses, which include not only the groceries but also expenses for dinning-outs, personal/household hygiene stuff, and occasionally over-the-counter medication.
- Keep track of receipts. First and foremost, keep all the receipts and don’t throw them away. This will allow you to calculate how much you spend on grocery each month on average and provide you a baseline for future monthly comparison. What I always do is to record the expenses using my computer in an excel worksheet where I can manipulate data and compute average easily. Aside from keeping the receipts, be sure to check your receipts for accuracy before walking out of the store.
- Check weekly flyers for bargains as well as for knowledge! I usually check the flyers from 2 to 3 stores prior to grocery shopping. When I find a good price, I’ll consider making a trip to the store and stocking up the stuff. If none of the stores offers promotion sales on things I need to buy, I’ll defer my purchase unless I need the item urgently. Besides looking for sales, routine flyer checking will give you a general idea the usual price of a particular item and any seasonal price fluctuation, especially for fruits and vegetables. This will impart some knowledge on the best time to buy certain groceries. One last note…I don’t receive every grocery store’s flyer in mail, so I’ll check its online flyer in this case. Here is a list of online flyers I can check from time to time:
- Know your food costs. Cooked meals are not always more expensive than uncooked meals. For example: $6.95 can buy you a 1kg rotisserie whole chicken, which is hot and ready to serve and gives you two breasts, two legs, two thighs, and two wings. If you buy frozen whole chicken or perhaps two boneless uncooked chicken breasts, it can be more expensive; plus, you have to spend time and energy to cook it! Also mentioned in previous point, fruits and veggies tend to have seasonal price fluctuation, so avoid buying during off-season period.
- Buy in bulks. Bulk purchases tend to have lower prices than buying smaller packages or smaller quantities. This is usually the case, but not always! Pull out your calculator when in doubt.
- Think generic products and OTC medications. Cereal, canned and frozen foods are cheaper when sold through the store brand name; in most cases, the quality doesn’t differ much. As for medication, OTC (over-the-counter) drugs are cheapers than prescription drugs. To save even further, consider generic names (eg, ibuprofen, acetaminophen) rather than brand names (eg, motrin/advil, tylenol). For vitamin supplements, synthetic vitamins are as good as natural vitamins, except for vitamin E where the natural form is better.
- Jot down prices on shopping list, including the unit measurements lb, kg, ml, etc. Before you head out for shopping, write down the unit prices for each item on your shopping list. Firstly, this will let you know you’re buying the correct item, especially in the meat section. On the flyer, meats are usually advertised in unit lb (bigger font) and in unit kg (in smaller font). Because of the font size difference, people tend to remember the price in unit lb. However, once you’re in the store, meats are priced only in unit kg. If your brain cannot convert prices from lb to kg, it will be a good idea to write both unit prices on your shopping list. Secondly, with prices written on the shopping list, it allows you to cross-check the price at the check-out counters, to make sure no errors on the receipt.
- Be food smart. Shop the types of your foods wisely. In general, you want to buy foods that will give a long-term satiety effect; ie, foods high in content of protein and/or complex carbohydrates, such as lean meats, fruits, and veggies. This improves not only your health and waistline but also your cost of living. Foods high in refined sugars, such as snacks and cookies, are good for boosting your energy short-term but you’ll end up being hungry sooner and eating more.
These are some personal suggestions based on my shopping experience. I hope they’re helpful in some ways.