9 Frugal Ways to Lower Your Grocery Bill
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If you’ve been to the grocery store lately you know that prices are going up. Thanks to this year’s record breaking drought and subsequent rise in corn prices this increase will only get worse. What makes the drought particularly hard is that corn directly or indirectly is a part of so many of the things we consume. From cereals, to eggs to soda, many will feel the effect. A frugal mindset and commitment to your budget will help you win the war to keep your grocery costs down.
1. Make a Meal Plan
Having a meal plan will help keep your purchases on track at the store. Whether it be for a week or a month this will help form your shopping list and shop in a targeted way, as opposed to buying “what looks good.”
2. Reduce Your Trips to the Store
My wife and I did this recently. We used to go once a week, but have now cut it to once every 10-11 days. We did not think it would work at first, but have found that we save money in the long run and have extra grocery money in our envelope budget at the end of the month. Another added benefit is that we have less food waste as we’re eating more of what we buy.
3. Don’t go Hungry
I know everyone says this, but it’s true. If you go shopping on an empty stomach, you’re apt to buy things that you normally might not. Having something as simple as an energy bar or a banana beforehand can satisfy your hunger and avoid the things that might tempt you otherwise and defeat your deisre to be frugal.
4. Avoid Pre-Cut Fruit
Sure, it saves time to pick up that package of cut watermelon or pineapple, but do so at your own risk. You’re generally paying a high premium for that packaged fruit and could very well get more by just buying the whole fruit itself. It does take time to prepare it yourself, but you get the keep the savings.
5. Be Frugal and Use Coupons
Ok, this is another easy one. But, it really does work, if you use them wisely. Don’t allow yourself to use coupons to buy something you might not normally buy. Use your meal plan to decide which coupons to use in order to best save money. Another option can be to use your rewards credit card if you have any rewards points available.
6. Choose Generic
Generally the taste and quality are similar without the added cost of the name brand. There might be some products where the name brand is worth the added cost, but staples like rice and pasta can be bought generic to help stretch your grocery budget.
7. Look at the Per Unit Cost
Companies have sneaky ways to get you to spend more. Outsmart them by looking at the per unit cost. The family size bag may not really be all that good of a deal if the per unit cost is significantly more than the next size down. To aid in your frugal shopping, use a calculator to easily compute the per unit cost.
8. Be Frugal About Your Purchases
I am talking specifically about the check-out aisle. This can be a minefield for driving up your grocery bill. Take a few seconds and think about if you have the funds budgeted and if you can live without it.
9. Use Your Eyes
Companies pay handsomely to get their products at eye level, or that of your child. Make sure that you’re scanning the entire shelf to make sure you have the best deal.
While it is difficult to stay within your grocery budget, with some frugal planning you can lower your bill and stretch your budget farther.
What do you do to be frugal with your grocery bill?
John is the founder of Frugal Rules, a dad, husband and veteran of the financial services industry whose writing has been featured in Forbes, CNBC, Yahoo Finance and more.
Passionate about helping people learn from his mistakes, John shares financial tools and tips to help you enjoy the freedom that comes from living frugally. One of his favorite tools is Personal Capital , which he used to plan for retirement and keep track of his finances in less than 15 minutes each month.
Another one of John's passions is helping people save $80 per month by axing their expensive cable subscriptions and replacing them with more affordable ones, like Hulu with Live TV.