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When you think about your major expenses, your house or car payment may be top of mind. But, chances are good that groceries also take a big bite out of your budget. If you’re looking to cut costs, here are some tips to save you more at the grocery store.
- Plan ahead. Take inventory of your pantry and refrigerator to see what you need before you go to the store. Or, make a shopping list and stick to it. You’ll be less likely to buy things you don’t need. Take your list a step further by meal planning for the next week or two to ensure you’ll use what you buy.
- Click or clip coupons. Coupons are still alive and well in some newspaper fliers, but they’re even more popular online. Sites like coupons.com or Checkout51 offer coupons or cash back deals. Checkout51 even has an app, so your savings are as close as your smartphone.
- Choose the right store. Check weekly store advertisements to look for sales on items you buy regularly. It may be worth it to shop at a couple of different supermarkets to get discounts on your favorite items.
- Stock up during sales. When items you use regularly go on sale, that’s the right time to buy, especially if they have a long shelf life or can be frozen, and you have the space to store them.
- Watch out for budget busters. Take a look at your grocery receipt and circle the most expensive items. On your next trip, see if there are lower-cost replacements. If not, consider making them occasional treats rather than regular purchases.
- Do it yourself. Cut up your own fruits and veggies or make your own cheese and cracker sandwiches for snacks instead of paying extra for prepackaged convenience foods. Your own will likely be fresher and taste better, too.
- Compare prices, including unit price. The quality of a store brand may be just as good as a popular brand, but less expensive. And, you may find it more cost effective to buy based on per unit or per serving price. Be sure to check the higher and lower shelves—the most expensive products are usually placed at eye-level.
- Consider keeping non-grocery items separate. Personal care and paper products may be convenient at the grocery store, but you may find a better deal at discount stores.
- Sign up for rewards. If your supermarket offers a loyalty card or rewards program, take advantage. You may get instant savings at the cash register or unadvertised coupons on products you buy regularly.
- Grow your own. Having fresh and tasty veggies, fruit and/or herbs right outside your door may not only save money on your grocery bill, but also inspire you to do more cooking, which can add up to even bigger savings.