Here's how to save money on groceries at the store:
Make a grocery list
Only buy things on your list
Grocery stores are set up to make you want to buy things you don't need. They only make a little bit of money on each item sold, so stores try to trick you into buying more than you need so they can make a profit.
Here's some tips to protect yourself from getting tricked at the grocery store:
Tip #1: Make a meal plan and shop with a list
If you go into the grocery store without a plan, you'll end up wandering around the isles picking up things that look good. Stores try to make the most expensive items look really good. Avoid getting tricked into buying the most expensive foods by going in with a plan.
Making a menu and shopping for that menu also helps you make healthier choices!! If you have a plan for eating healthy, you are less likely to stock up on frozen pizza and chicken nuggets.
Tip #2: Always compare unit costs.
I always buy the items at the store that cost the least amount of money per ounce. Usually that means buying the store brand.
Let's start by looking at cereal. The small number next to the bolded price is the unit cost, or cost per ounce. Great Value brand costs 13.9 cents per ounce, which is half the cost of regular cheerios which are 26.2 cents per ounce!!:
If you look at canned beans at Smith's:
S&W Brand: $1.00
Simple Truth Organic: $1.25
Kroger Brand: $0.89
Every can has 15oz of beans, so Kroger brand beans are the least expensive, but it can be hard to find the best price when foods some in different sized packaging.
For example: Look at the cheddar cheese choices from walmart.com
The little number next to the price shows you the cost per oz.
The least expensive option per ounce is the 2 pound bag of Great Value shredded cheese (23.4 cents per ounce).
The bag of Tillamook cheese costs less for the entire bag, but is actually double the price of the Walmart cheese at 49.8 cents per ounce!
I always buy food that is the least cost per ounce. It might only save you a few cents per item, but over the long run, those cents make a big difference.
For example, if you buy 2 pounds of the expensive cheese every week for 1 year (52 weeks), you'll spend $828 on cheese. If you bought 2 pounds of Great Vaule cheese every week for a year, you would only spend $389. Buying the cheese with the lowest cost per ounce could save you $439 per year just in cheese!
Always buy the items that cost least per ounce.
3. Only buy in bulk if you eat in bulk.
Sometimes stores have deals where you buy a certain amount to get a better price. They want you to buy in bulk so that they make more money.
For example, if you buy 5 boxes of crackers, you can get them for $1.00 less per box.
If you eat a lot of crackers this is a great idea!
If you don't eat a lot of crackers, you won't end up saving any money because the crackers will go bad before you eat them.
Also, you might end up eating more than you want if you buy too many. This especially applies to foods like chips and cookies. Avoid buying those foods in bulk!
If it's an item like cheese, you can freeze the extra for future use. If it's a large box of oranges, there's a good chance you won't be able to eat them before they go moldy, and oranges do not freeze well.
Only buy items in bulk if you have a plan to use them or freeze before they go bad. If you don't think you'll use it before it goes bad, you'll just end up throwing food away.
Throwing food away = throwing money away.
Don't get tricked into buying more than you want or need.
Only buy in bulk if you eat in bulk.
(and prevent yourself from eating junk food in bulk by never buying it in bulk!)
Those are my top 3 tips for saving money at the grocery store: shop with a list, buy the least expensive item per unit cost and only buy in bulk if you know you will eat it before it goes bad.
Next week I'll talk more about how to make the most of grocery store deals by using your freezer. See you next week!
Until then, here is my meal plan for the week:
Saturday: Veggie Noodle Soup for lunch, pomegranate + grapefruit
Sunday: spaghetti with kale and meat sauce + green salad + roasted brussel sprouts + oranges
Monday: South West Pasta Salad + frozen mangoes
Tuesday: Antipasto Salad + Lasagna (using leftover meat sauce from sunday) + oranges
Wednesday: Hashbrowns w/peppers + onions, Eggs, frozen berries
Thursday: Lentil Soup + whole wheat bread + apple slices