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Contribution By: Stacy Barbee
You can skip designer bags, do without designer shoes but, you can never go without groceries, even in your wildest dreams. We all know that cooking at home is far less expensive than eating out, but with rising food cost it’s harder to stick to a budget. Groceries cost a family of 4 on average between $584 and $1156/month. While this is a very broad range, the fact remains that groceries can be quite expensive. Coupons help to save money, but they’re only to save you some on selected items. Here are 8 ways to save money grocery shopping to keep more cash in your pocket.
1. Take Advantage of Loyalty Programs:
The best part of loyalty cards is that they’re free and allow you to save extra money on many items you frequently purchase. Plus as an added feature, you can get significant discounts on gas and other items by using them too.
2. Shop the Deals, Then Plan Your Meals:
Look through the sales paper from your local supermarket before you make your shopping list or plan your meals for the week. Decide how you can use those deals proactively to create your weekly menu. Be sure to take advantage of nonperishable or frozen food deals and stock up when your favorite items are on sale.
3. Save with Cash Back Apps:
Apps like SavingsStar offer cash-back deals on groceries. Download the app to see what goods are offering cash-back this week. Take a picture of the receipt as your proof of purchase, and SavingStar automatically adds the value of each offer to your online account. Access your cash with a transfer to your bank, PayPal, or Upromise account.
4. Don’t Miss the Top Shelf:
The top shelf may mean more expensive when you are at the bar, but when grocery shopping that’s where you find the budget-friendly brands and best deals. Companies pay a premium to supermarkets to have their products displayed at your eye level, so scan the top and bottom shelves to save a little money.
5. Previously Frozen is Your Friend:
Products labeled as ‘previously frozen’ at the seafood counter will be much cheaper than their “fresh” counterparts. I find that some seafood, especially shrimp, taste the same fresh or frozen. Plus, frozen foods you will give you more flexibility with planning your meals since you can defrost when you are ready to cook it.
6. Know the Shelf Life:
You already know that you can save a lot by buying in bulk so educate yourself on product shelf life so you can buy items that last the longest. For instance, white rice will last 4-5 years as opposed to brown which only lasts 6-8 months. Likewise, with organic milk vs. regular milk. Also, understand that sometimes expiration dates are more of a “suggestion” than an actual discard date, so test food before you toss it as you could be throwing money away.
7. Explore Farmer Markets:
Farmer’s markets, local orchards, and ethnic supermarkets are the perfect places to find fresh veggies and meats for less. At farmer’s markets, you will find excellent quality produce from local farmers at competitive prices. I always try to stop by the small ethnic grocery stores for my specialty ingredients because they are always cheaper.
8. Buy Healthy Staples:
Believe it or not, healthy foods can be inexpensive too. For instance, beans, avocados, eggs, oats are cheap food staples. When shopping look for more everyday food staples instead of the latest food trends, and you find yourself saving quite a bit!
Extra tip- Buy seasonal fruits and vegetables when they are at peak season to save money, like citrus fruits during summer and cabbage during winter.