If you buy the groceries in your home, you know that food prices seem to get higher every time you go to the store.  For someone on a budget, it can make grocery shopping time very stressful. Fortunately, there are things you can do to lower your grocery bill without compromising the quality or taste.

Plan, Plan, Plan

It seems like the words “meal planning” are all over the internet lately, and within good reason:  planning your week of meals ahead of time has proven to lower your food costs. Why? It’s because planning out everything in advance helps you not throw every item you see into your cart.  With a properly planned out shopping list, you know approximately how much you will spend before you even get to the store. This helps you stay on budget and rids you of the temptation to buy too many “extras”.  You can plan your grocery budget and eat well all week–all because you put a little thought into it beforehand.

Also, as part of your planning, make sure you never go to the store while you are hungry.  If you are ravenous by the time you get to the store, everything you see will look appetizing, and you will end up buying too much.  So eat a good snack and make a list, and your grocery shopping will go much smoother.

Know Your Prices

Part of sticking to your grocery budget is to know your best prices.  Do you know the best price for a pound of ground beef? How about the best price for a gallon of milk?  If you always have an idea of the lowest price you’ve seen for certain items, you will always know if your store is charging too much for that item.  

How do you know when prices are good or bad?  You shop the weekly sales. Get out all the grocery store ads from the newspaper (or online using an app like Flipp) and go through and find the items you are looking at buying.  This will help you determine what to buy where. If you dislike the idea of going to several different stores, find the one that has the most items you want to buy at the cheapest prices and go there.  Whatever you decide to do, make sure that you build your meal plan around the sale items that week for the stores you choose. Shopping the sales ensures that you can eat well on a budget.

Rewards and Coupons

You don’t have to be an “extreme couponer” to enjoy the benefits of coupons and grocery store rewards.  Only cut out the coupons for the items you need, or take advantage of the digital coupons many stores now have.  If your favorite store has a rewards card, make sure you sign up for one. You often get special prices and even extra coupons for things you buy if you use your rewards card.  

There are also apps like Ibotta that give you cash back for buying certain items.  You just download the app, select your coupons and then upload your receipt, and it adds money to your account.  Once you reach a certain amount in your account, you can cash out and get that money back. It’s just another easy way to save money on groceries.

DIY

Perhaps the easiest way to save a little money on your grocery bill is to stop buying convenience foods and do things yourself.  Don’t buy that small bowl of cut up pineapple for $5–instead, buy a whole pineapple for $3 and get double the amount of fruit. Sure, it’s not easy to cut up, but you get more for less this way.  This goes for any pre-packaged convenience food. It’s usually always cheaper to do the work yourself than to buy it already done. Of course this method takes more time, but if you are serious about saving money, it’s the only way to go.

Saving money on groceries isn’t rocket science–it just takes some organization and planning.  If that doesn’t come natural to you, don’t worry! The more you practice shopping sales, looking for coupons and meal planning, the easier it becomes.

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