Clever Ways To Save Money While Grocery Shopping

We’ve all faced the panic of walking into the grocery store without a list or a plan, just the knowledge that the fridge is getting desperately empty and you need to make something for dinner. In this state of grocery emergency, you make a few questionable choices and almost always end up at the store again the next day to get all of the things you forgot. Not only does this method of shopping make you feel on edge, but it isn’t always the kindest to your wallet.

The next week you vow you’ll be more prepared before you step into the store, but you always seem to find yourself with high grocery bills and not that much food. If there’s a major expense in your life you need to pay for, such as replacing your sofa that’s reaching the high end of its average lifespan at 15 years old, you need to find every opportunity you can to pinch pennies. Your grocery budget is one of those opportunities. Let’s take a look at some of the top ways to save money when you’re grocery shopping.

Set A Monthly Budget

One of the best ways to avoid grocery panic is to know what your budget is and stick to it. Look over your expenses last month and determine how much you spent on food. Set a monthly budget and then divide it by four to know how much you should be spending every week. Some weeks you might overspend, but having an overarching monthly budget gives you the wiggle room to come in under budget for the other weeks. Just remember to balance it all out by the end of the month.

When you’re at the store, remember to stick to your budget. Bring a calculator with you or use the one on your smartphone to hold yourself accountable. Calculate every item as you add it to your cart. This will keep you under budget and help you realize how quickly the cost of your items adds up. Data from 2016 shows that the cost of living has increased by 30% in the past 13 years, but the average shopper often doesn’t realize how this price hike affects them. After using a calculator for a few trips to the store, you’ll likely be able to do the calculations yourself and stick to a budget with your own intuition.

Plan Meals Based On Your Pantry

Before you go to the store, take a look in your cupboards to see what you already have. Oftentimes, you will have many of the ingredients you need for a full meal. You may even have an entire dinner ready to go without realizing it. By peeking into your pantry, you’ll be able to buy less at the store and you won’t waste as much food.

This tip doesn’t only apply to the pantry. Remember to check your fridge, freezer, and any other places you store food before you go to the store. About 87% of Americans have ice cream in their freezer at any given time, so you probably don’t need to pick up that extra pint of mint chocolate chip when you’re shopping. Take stock of what you have and you’ll be able to resist picking up groceries on impulse because you know that you already have something similar at home.

Be Smarter Than The Store’s Setup

Grocery stores are strategically designed to encourage shoppers to buy the more expensive items and to pick up things they don’t really need. The essential ingredients, such as produce and dairy, are typically on the opposite ends of the store. As you go from one end to the other, you pass the inner aisles and are tempted to pick up extra goods. Within the aisles, more expensive items are often on shelves that are at eye-level, as that’s where you naturally look first.

When you go shopping, try to avoid the inner aisles. Stick to the outer edges so that you grab only what you need. When you do have to venture into the inner aisles, only go down the ones that have the items on your list. Wandering through the aisles only invites you to put unnecessary goods into your cart. Overcome the store’s sneaky shelf placement by looking at the upper and lower shelves. This ensures that you get the most affordable item and not its pricier counterpart.

From not going to the grocery store when you’re hungry to avoid pre-cut and pre-washed produce, there is an endless number of ways to save when shopping. All of these little savings add up, allowing you to divert your money to more important things. For instance, if you’re among the six out of 10 baby boomers who will be managing a chronic condition by 2030, you’ll be able to use what you previously spent on groceries on your medical expenses instead. Put these penny-pinching tips to the test and you’ll soon see more money in your account for whatever you need.

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