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7 Ways to Grocery Shop on a Budget
Of all non-fixed expenses, groceries often take the biggest bite out of a budget. With prices on commodities continually rising, and everything from online influencers to store layouts aimed at getting us to overspend, trimming your food costs can be challenging. These tips can help you learn how to grocery shop and stay on budget.
If you feel like you spend half your paycheck at the grocery store, you’re not alone. Groceries often take the biggest bite out of non-fixed expenses in a monthly budget. In fact, the average family of four spends anywhere from $570 to $1,298 on their monthly grocery bill.1
Learning how to spend less at the grocery can help you save hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars a year and keep your monthly budget intact.
Here are seven tips for grocery shopping on a budget:
1. Plan Your Meals
Planning out your menu for the upcoming week before hitting the supermarket will help you stick to your budget and buy only what you know you’ll use.
2. Shop the Seasons
Produce can get costly, but you can have your fruits and veggies and stay within your budget by purchasing in-season produce. As an added bonus, your produce will be fresher and have more nutrients than off-season fruits and vegetables.
3. Eat Less Meat
Everyone loves a juicy steak, but meat can really make your grocery bill skyrocket. Challenge yourself to limit your meat dinners to just once or twice a week. This will lower overall costs and help you stick to your budget. You can also jump on the “Meatless Mondays” train by kicking off each workweek with an inexpensive dinner. Think plant-based substitutes, dairy delights or vegan choices. Small financial victories like these can add up to big savings.
4. Time Your Shopping Right
There’s a time and place for everything — and grocery shopping is no exception. Shop early in the morning to score the best daily deals, buy your meat on Tuesdays when prices tend to drop and hit the store on Wednesdays to take advantage of weekly sales on stuff you need.
5. Make Your Own Food Choices
We often don’t realize how strongly technology affects our spending, but between targeted advertising, social media influencers and ubiquitous online reviews, very few spending choices we make are actually our own. Before adding a new food item to your menu and your shopping list, take a step back and ask yourself if this decision is really yours.
6. Add More Affordable Foods to Your Diet
To really save on groceries, consider swapping out some pricey items on your shopping list for more affordable choices. Oatmeal, rice and bread can be great ways to fill up for less. If you’re thinking protein, try eggs, beans and lentils. Year-round produce, like bananas and apples, is often the cheapest selections in the produce aisle.
7. Outsmart In-store Marketing Techniques
The grocery store is full of marketing gimmicks aimed at getting you to spend more. Here’s how to outsmart them:
- Ignore the sales on items you don’t need. If it’s not on your list, you aren’t saving money, no matter how steeply discounted the item is.
- Shop the perimeter of the store to get the most nutrient-dense foods at the best prices.
- Look up and down. The items at eye-level are usually the most expensive ones.
There’s no need to blow your budget at the grocery store. By implementing these tips and being a more mindful shopper, you can learn how to stick to your budget at the market.