Grocery Cart

7 Ideas for Slashing Your Grocery Bill

Saving money on groceries used to not be on my priority list.  Who has the time to clip coupons and keep track of when and where the sales are just to be able to save a few cents?  Then one day, purely by accident, I discovered an amazing fact—if I spent less money on groceries, I would have more money to spend on other stuff! This revelation motivated me to search for strategies that would help me spend as little as possible on each trip to the grocery store.  Here are seven ofthe most helpful strategies I discovered:

1. Grocery Stores are for Groceries

Funny thing—it turns out that grocery stores make the least amount of profit on groceries.  The most profitable items for these stores are things like shampoo, toothpaste, paper towels, over-the-counter drugs, and other non-food items. Yes, it's very convenient to buy these things while you are already at the store, but this convenience will cost you 20%-30% more than buying the same thing at a discount store such as Target or Wal-Mart.  Why not make the extra trip and save some money?  It adds up over time…

2. Bend and Stretch

Clever people those storeowners are… They know that bending to get something from the bottom shelf or stretching to reach something from the top one is too much exercise for most of us.  That's why they conveniently place the most expensive stuff right at eye-level so that we can easily reach for it.  The best deals for us (and worst deals for them) are usually in the harder-to-reach places, like the top and bottom shelves.  So bend and stretch and reach and save—this type of exerciseis good for your wallet.

3. Eat More Fruit

An apple a day keeps the doctor away. Apples, and other fruit, also happen to be less expensive than candy and snack foods.  So instead of filling up on high-sugar, high-fat, high-price junk food, I concluded that going with healthful and relatively inexpensive fruit is a better strategy.  I am sure that both my doctor and my accountant would concur.

4. Pretty Things Cost More

Packaging adds considerably to the total cost of a product.  The fancier the package, the more expensive the content.  Also, boxed items are more expensive than bagged products, which in turn are more expensive than loose stuff.  Being that it's not the packaging that we eat, forgoing a colorful box can save us some pennies.  For example, store brands and local brands are often of comparable quality to nationally advertised products, but have more modest looking packaging, and are cheaper. Another example is meat and cheese. Buy the pre-packaged kind from the center-aisles and you will pay many pennies more than if you buy the same thing from the deli corner or the meat block section.

5. Buy in Bulk, Cook in Bulk

This dual strategy can save you money in two ways.  First, buying in bulk is often less expensive than buying in small quantities.  Secondly, prepare a double meal, and freeze half for later.  When that later comes, you'll have a fast heat-and-serve meal available, rather than being tempted to head to a restaurant (and spend money) if you don't feel like cooking.  Oh, and one more quick note—buying in bulk is not always cheaper.  When deciding between one big package and a few smaller packages of the same product, consider the cost-per-unit (or cost-per-ounce).  This is sometimes indicated on the package, and sometimes you will have to calculate it yourself (don't feel embarrassed to bring a calculator with you to the store).

Phone Coupon

6. Sunday Paper

Those two pounds of recyclable paper you receive every Sunday have two money-saving features.  First, there are the ads that tell you where the sales are and what's on sale.  Secondly, there are numerous coupons that can probably save you $5-$10 on your next trip to the store.  Now, I know there are people who don't want to bother with clipping coupons, but spending a couple of minutes glancing through the paper and clipping only coupons for stuff you'll buy anyway is not a big-time commitment.  Ten cents here and twenty cents there can really add up. When a Great Deal is Not Finally, saving money is not about always buying what's cheapest. 

7. Quality matters 

Someone once told me: "I am not rich enough to buy cheap stuff."  It makes sense.  You buy a cheap, lower-quality product instead of the one you like; you try it, hate it, throw it away, then go back to the store and buy the one you wanted in the first place.  Paying double is wasteful even for the rich, so sticking to quality stuff is a good idea for them and for the rest of us.


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