Stretch Your Dollar: The Best Way to Save Grocery Money Now
BY JEN AMBROSE
Mom’s Ultimate Guide: 28 of The Best Way to Save Grocery Money
Just letting you know that this post about, the best way to save grocery money, could have some affiliate links in it. These links may result in a small monetary commission for me, if you decide to make a purchase, after clicking on them. Thanks for your support of Insider Mama!
Ever felt like your grocery cart is more like a mini black hole? You place item after item into it, and before you know it, you’re at the checkout and the total is skyrocketing. The dreaded beep of the cashier's scanner starts to sound more like a cash register emptying your wallet.
Now, if you’re anything like me (and let’s face it, we’ve all been there), you’ve wondered if there's a magical way, perhaps a secret Mom-Code, to save some serious moolah on groceries. And guess what? I’ve cracked the code! So buckle up, because here's the best way to save grocery money.
1. Mom’s Magic List
A grocery list is like your trusty sidekick. Before you venture out, take a peek inside your pantry and fridge. See what you already have. Then, jot down what you need. This list will ensure you only buy necessities and won’t be tempted by those sneaky sales. Remember, even if there’s a “buy one, get one free” offer, it's no savings if you weren’t planning to get it in the first place!
2. Coupon Capers
Once upon a time, coupons were these paper thingies we clipped. But guess what? Welcome to 2023! There are apps galore that offer tons of deals. Try apps like “Ibotta” or “Checkout 51”. These can save you a pretty penny, and it's as easy as pie. Mmm, pie.
3. Seasonal Splurge
Buy fruits and veggies that are in season. Not only are they fresher and yummier, but they're also cheaper. Plus, isn’t a juicy watermelon slice way more tempting in summer than winter? Just imagine: “Hey kids, who wants a snow-covered watermelon?”
4. Store Brands: The Unsung Heroes
Here's a little secret. Many store brands are made in the SAME factories as the fancy brands. So, why pay for the snazzy logo? Go for the store brand. Your wallet will thank you, and your taste buds won’t know the difference!
5. Bulk up on Basics
Buying in bulk is the mom version of hoarding – but in a good way! Items like rice, pasta, and beans can last a while. Plus, you get more bang for your buck. Just make sure to store them properly. We wouldn’t want any unexpected “guests” (aka pantry pests).
6. Plan Meals Like a Pro
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wandered the aisles thinking, “Hmm, maybe we can have spaghetti tacos this week?” Planning meals ahead of time ensures you get all the ingredients in one go, saving you those extra trips where you end up buying more than intended.
7. Sales, Sales, and ... Did I Mention Sales?
I love a good sale. It's like a treasure hunt! Remember, though, only buy what you need. And if it’s a perishable on sale, think about whether you can eat it in time or freeze it for later.
8. DIY Snack Packs
Little Johnny wants those pre-packaged snack packs. But oh boy, the price! Why not create your own? Buy a larger package and divide the contents into reusable containers. It’s cheaper and eco-friendly. Plus, think of it as your mini-rebellion against excess packaging. Viva la snack-volution!
9. Stay Hydrated but Sensibly
Water is best. Sodas and juices? They're treat territory. Stick to plain water most of the time. It’s free from the tap, and there’s no fancy price tag. If the kiddos want something fancier, try adding a splash of fruit juice to sparkling water. Voila, homemade spritzer!
10. Avoid the Hungry Shop
Ever shopped on an empty stomach? It’s a recipe for disaster! Everything looks tempting. Even that weird seaweed-flavored popcorn. Eat before you shop. Trust me; your cart will contain fewer impulsive (and often expensive) choices.
11. Play Detective
Stores are sneaky. They often place pricier items at eye level, hoping you’ll grab and go. But not today, store! Look up, look down, and find those deals.
12. Grow Green
I'm not saying turn your backyard into a farm (unless you want to – in which case, go you!). But even a small herb garden on your window sill can save you some cash. Fresh basil, anyone?
13. Potluck Parties
Hosting a get-together? Make it a potluck. Your friends bring dishes, and everyone gets a variety. It’s fun, communal, and pocket-friendly. Plus, there’s always that one friend who makes the best potato salad, right?
14. Loyalty Pays
If your store offers a loyalty program, sign up. Not only will you get member-only discounts, but over time, you can earn points and rewards. That’s a win-win, my friend.
15. Love Your Leftovers
Remember last night’s dinner? It's today’s lunch! With a little creativity, leftovers can be turned into an entirely new meal. Roast chicken tonight can be chicken salad tomorrow!
16. Meatless Mondays (or any day)
You don’t have to join the vegetarian bandwagon full-time, but consider skipping meat once a week. Beans, lentils, and tofu can be way cheaper than meat and can whip up into some lip-smacking dishes. And who knows? You might just discover a new family favorite.
17. Check Out the Clearance
Don’t be shy, take a stroll through the clearance section. Maybe there’s a box of cereal with a slightly dented corner at half the price. Or a can of soup with a silly label misprint. It’s the inside that counts!
18. The Freezer is Your Friend
Got a great deal on some veggies or meat? Don’t let them spoil. Prep and freeze them. Next time you’re in a fix about what to cook, voila! You have the ingredients ready. It's like having a mini grocery store right at home.
19. Homemade Goodies
Feel like a baking goddess and whip up muffins, cookies, or bread at home. Not only is it cost-effective, but you also control the ingredients. And let's be honest, the smell of freshly baked bread? That’s worth a million dollars, but thankfully costs WAY less.
20. Reevaluate the ‘Organic’ Need
Organic is great, but it can also be pricier. Check if you really need everything organic. The Environmental Working Group’s "Dirty Dozen" and "Clean Fifteen" lists can help you decide what to buy organic and what can be conventional.
21. Shop Around
This might sound tiring, but sometimes different stores offer better prices for certain products. Over time, you’ll learn who has the best deal on what. Maybe Store A has cheaper dairy, but Store B nails it with produce prices.
22. Unit Prices are Unbeatable
That bigger box isn’t always the better deal. Look at the unit price (usually given per ounce or pound) on the shelf label. Sometimes, the smaller package is actually a better bargain!
23. BYOB: Bring Your Own Bag
Some stores offer discounts if you bring your own bag. Even if it's just a few cents, every bit counts. Plus, Mother Earth gives you a silent nod of appreciation.
24. Avoid Pre-Cut Veggies and Fruits
Yes, they save time, but they cost more. Get that knife out and channel your inner chef. It’s therapeutic (sort of) and cheaper.
25. Kids' Special: Be Firm
I get it. The little one throws a tantrum, demanding that overpriced candy. But stand firm. Maybe allow a treat once in a while, but always set a budget. It teaches them value and ensures you aren’t swindled by their puppy dog eyes.
26. Online Grocery Shopping
Sometimes, shopping online can prevent impulse buys because you search for exactly what you need. Many stores also offer exclusive online deals. Just watch out for delivery fees, or opt for store pick-up if it’s free!
27. Rain Checks
If a sale item is out of stock, ask for a rain check. This lets you purchase the item at the sale price once it's back in stock. Patience pays, literally!
28. Start a Mini Stockpile
No, I'm not talking about building a grocery fortress, but if there's a stellar deal on something non-perishable that you use often, buy a bit extra. Over time, you’ll find you can skip buying it when it’s pricier, saving in the long run.
Smart Shopping Strategies: Mastering the Art of Price Comparison
Alright, fellow moms, let's tackle one of the essential skills in our money-saving toolkit: price comparison. It's like being a detective in the grocery store aisles, but instead of solving mysteries, we're hunting down the best deals. Mastering the art of price comparison can significantly trim down our grocery bills, and it's easier than you might think!
Understand Unit Pricing
The key to efficient price comparison lies in understanding unit pricing. This little number, often found on the shelf tag, tells us the cost per unit (like per ounce, pound, or liter) of a product. It's our secret weapon in figuring out whether that giant box of cereal or the smaller one is actually the better deal. Sometimes, bigger isn't always better in terms of savings!
Use Technology to Your Advantage
In this digital age, let's make our smartphones our savvy shopping companions. There are numerous apps out there that can scan barcodes and compare prices across different stores. Some even alert us when our favorite items go on sale. It's like having a personal shopping assistant right in our pocket!
Create a Price Book
Consider starting a price book, either in a notebook or a digital spreadsheet. Every time you shop, jot down the prices of items you regularly buy. Over time, you'll have a handy reference to know when a sale is genuinely a good deal and which store consistently offers the best prices on certain items. It's a bit of effort upfront, but the long-term savings are well worth it.
Shop Around (But Be Smart About It)
While it's tempting to hop from store to store to snag the best deals, remember to factor in time and travel costs. The goal is to save money overall. Sometimes, picking a store that generally has lower prices or better sales can be more efficient than chasing deals across town.
Subscribe to Store Newsletters and Alerts
Many stores send out newsletters or have apps that alert you to sales and special deals. By being in the know, you can plan your shopping trips around these sales, ensuring you always get the best prices on items you need.
Watch for Sales Cycles
Most stores have sales cycles, meaning certain items go on sale at regular intervals. By tracking these, you can anticipate when your essentials will be discounted and stock up then. It’s all about timing!
Don't Forget Online Price Comparison
Sometimes, the best deals aren't in the store but online. Check out online retailers and compare their prices with your local stores. Just watch out for shipping costs, which can sometimes outweigh the savings.
Be Brand Flexible
Being loyal to a particular brand can sometimes cost us more. Be open to trying different brands, especially when there’s a sale or if an alternative is cheaper. Often, the difference in quality is negligible, but the savings can be substantial.
Involve the Family
Turn price comparison into a fun and educational game with the kids. Challenge them to find the best-priced item in a category. It’s a great way to teach them about money and value while getting a little help with your detective work!
Check Expiration Dates
When comparing prices, especially for perishable items, always check the expiration dates. A cheaper item might be nearing its expiration, which is fine if you plan to use it quickly but not so great for stocking up.
By incorporating these price comparison strategies into our shopping routine, we're not just saving a few dollars; we're adopting a smarter, more mindful approach to spending. It's about making every penny count and ensuring that our hard-earned money is spent in the most efficient way possible. Happy deal hunting!
So there you have it, fellow parents of the grocery aisle. Armed with these tips, you're ready to tackle your grocery shopping like the superhero you are. Here's to fuller carts, fuller wallets, and definitely no seaweed popcorn (unless that's your thing, and in that case, you do you!).
Up next, Grocery Shopping on a Tight Budget.
Until next time, may your coupons always be valid and your avocados perfectly ripe!