The cost of goods and services are continually going in one direction. Up. Rising prices are being reflected in everyday purchases and that includes the grocery bill. No longer is it a question of simply stopping by the nearest grocery store and picking up items without a second look at the price tag.
As more consumers feel the pressure of their incomes being stretched thin, here are 10 ways households can retain control of their grocery spending and save money in the process:
Make A Shopping List. To save time at the grocery store, it's best to come prepared. Take a moment to first list all items that are in need of replenishing. Not having a list at the ready may result in items being forgotten and a subsequent trip back to the store. Planning a menu of meals in advance and using a shopping list will ensure that a healthy meal at home is the first option instead of resorting to expensive dining or unhealthy take-out.
When grocery shopping with a partner or children, the temptation to give in to buying unnecessary items skyrockets. Shopping solo allows more time to compare unit prices and not feel pressured to spend on items that weren't planned for.
Buy In-Season Produce & Skip Pre-Packaged Items
Fresh fruits and vegetables are staples in a healthy eating plan but can be expensive. To help pare down the costs, choose produce that is currently in season and not pre-packaged for convenience. Also consider shopping at the local farmer's market or co-ops to get fresh selections at often less than grocery store prices. The most economical option, if space for a garden permits, is to grow your own produce.
Check Store Circulars
Whether online or in your local neighborhood, grocery stores typically advertise their sales in weekly flyers. Structure meals plans around what's on sale in order to save money. Take advantage of low priced items that you regularly use and stock up as most items go on sale every six to eight weeks.
Clip the Coupons
Even though the savings per coupon may seem insignificant, if used strategically, coupons can help you to save money on groceries. The key is to only use coupons for the items already on your shopping list and not for items that are impulse purchases just because of the coupon.
Name Brand versus Generic
Some generic products can taste as good if not better than name brand items. Buying generic, especially when brand name items are significantly more expensive will help to keep grocery costs in check. If you are particular to certain brand name items, then buy them in greater quantities when coupons and sales are available.
Avoid Expensive Grocers
If coupon clipping and pouring over loss leaders is too time consuming, then shop at stores that are known to cost less than Whole Foods and specialty shops. Whether it's Wal-Mart, Target or Trader Joe's, you can find typically buy grocery staples at reasonable prices.
Using Cash versus Credit Cards
If going over budget is a constant concern, then paying for groceries with a specific amount of cash is a preventative measure to avoid overspending. However, once your grocery bill is a significant amount of your monthly spending, using grocery store credit cards responsibly can generate significant rewards points or cash back rewards which can be redeemed for groceries or other purchases.
Pay Attention at the Register
Stores aren't perfect and neither are the cashiers. Watch the scanner at the cash register to catch any discrepancies for products or coupons that may get improperly priced, scanned – or not at all. Most importantly, check your grocery receipt before leaving the store and have any pricing errors corrected on the spot.
Join a Warehouse Club
For certain items such as condiments, canned goods and water, buying from bulk retailers can save 30% to 50% off the price of what regular grocery stores charge. Calculate whether the annual membership fees of wholesale clubs like Costco and Sam's Club will be worth the cost, based on how much you will purchase over the course of a year.