No one ever saves money for the fun of it, especially when it comes to groceries. But the times haven’t been much fun lately, as food prices are steadily increasing in the US. Many households are forced to cut their expenditures. 

It’s much more difficult to save on mortgages or loans because they rely on fixed agreements. Everything is up to you when it comes to groceries, so there are ample opportunities to save money while still eating healthy. Here are ten tips that have helped me to save on groceries.

Make a shopping list

Making a grocery list is one of the most common saving tips, and rightfully so. Impulsive buying is one of the major culprits of spending too much on food. Our entire culture relies on us spending money (consumerism), so it’s no surprise we are encouraged to impulse by things from social media and other channels.

A grocery list helps us to buy only what we need, but it’s not enough to have a grocery list, you also must stick to it. It’s far easier to do so when you create a grocery list that aligns with your meal plan.

A meal plan isn’t something only athletes use. It’s a tool to control what you are eating and how much you are spending. A grocery list is just one part of a broader meal plan. It’s easiest to start when you include things that you are already buying. 

Approach it realistically and leave some room for candies or more expensive items. At first, it’s more important to learn how to stick to a grocery list in the shop. Then you can start to slowly improve it, both in terms of budget and health.

Estimate your budget and stick to it

While tracking the food you are eating may help flatten your belly, it won’t help you save much unless you track your budget also. I recommend that people start supplementing their grocery list with the amounts of what they spend. After following their spending habits, most are surprised.

It turns out we spend much more on candies, alcohol, or other unnecessary things than you might think. And somehow, it has mixed up with your grocery budget. When making an estimate, try to categorize how much you’d like to spend on different categories you buy – meat, fish, vegetables, oats, sweets, etc.

Once you are aware of a full picture of your expenses, you can start limiting the parts you deem unnecessary. Don’t forget to control other parts of your grocery list as well. For example, the prices of most vegetables are seasonal, so it should be reflected in your budget and meal plan.

Buy generic food brands

Buying a branded blouse might be a fashion statement, but the food you eat at home isn’t of much interest to anyone. As long as you are eating healthy, there’s not much need to spend more than what groceries are worth. That’s why the next tip is to buy generic store brands.

They are almost always cheaper than their brand counterparts, and with federal food regulations in place, their contents are equally nutritious. The most difficult part is to persuade your spouse or kids to eat generic store brands. Yes, some products do differ in more than packaging, but things like canned beans, sugar, or rice don’t differ in taste.

Use grocery rewards card or app

Most grocery stores, even expensive ones, have some sort of rewards program. I do recommend making use of it if you want to save, but you must be smart about it. It’s often a marketing trick to make you buy more than you need or help stores sell off products that are expired.

To make rewards programs work for you, start by comparing prices in several stores. Regularly checking prices in multiple stores will give you an awarenes of what is the current ‘normal’ price of essential products. There are apps that help you achieve it to some extent, but honestly, none of them are good enough to recommend.

Apps and reward programs earn money for stores when you buy everything in one place. For example, you save on milk but spend more on cereal. So, the best strategy is to have an account for all the grocery and convenience stores you visit regularly and combine the available deals.

Look for gift card promotions

Sometimes, saving is not just about cutting expenses but about looking for ways to increase your budget for a specific product or service. It’s wise to invest some time into platforms that can help you increase your budget by at least a bit. Cashback platforms, paid survey sites, mystery shopping, and bandwidth sharing will add to your budget.

However, earning money with such platforms can feel like work more than a way to save if you are cashing out real money. That’s why I recommend looking for promotions or side hustles that will earn you gift cards. These pre-paid cards will only allow you to spend money in one store.

It’s a great way to have some extra income dedicated to a specific part of your budget, and completely tax-free. For example, having Seven Eleven gift cards helps me save on some unnecessary expenses that would otherwise lower my expenses elsewhere.

I don’t recommend spending much in convenience stores as they are expensive. But sometimes you just need a few things before going to a larger and cheaper store. Spending some free time on gift cards is a game changer for many unnecessary expenses. Besides, it is much easier to earn them than most think.

Also read: Applebee’s Happy Hour Times & Menu

Final thoughts: spending awareness

All these tips have one thing in common – awareness about your expenses. As long as we are aware of how and when we spend our money, we will find methods to save. I’m sure that when you become a mindful spender, you’ll be able to supplement this list with many other tips. 

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