We all have to eat, right? So that means weekly or biweekly trips to the grocery store. It also means spending more than you have to on your food budget if you don’t pay attention to what you buy and how you buy it. Needless to say that maintaining a reasonable grocery budget does take at least a little bit of effort.
My Divine Concierge would be happy to handle your grocery shopping for you if you have trouble getting out. But whether we do it for you or you continue to do it yourself, we want you to save as much money as possible. We did a little research and discovered two things you can do to save money on groceries: develop a habit of menu planning and take advantage of certain kinds of bulk purchases.
Saving through Menu Planning
If you were going down to the hardware store to purchase supplies for a kitchen remodeling project, wouldn’t you spend some time before leaving home coming up with a list of necessary supplies? Of course you would. You would want to make sure you had everything on hand before you began construction. You would also want to ensure you are not purchasing supplies you have no need of. Think of your grocery list in the same way.
When you plan a menu for a week or two at a time, you can make a list that enables you to purchase just what you need. Look through the cupboards and the freezer to see what you already have, adding to your list only those things you need to complete the menu. Then add household items including your toiletries and paper products. Stick to your list once at the grocery store.
Menu planning saves money in a number of ways. First, it prevents impulse buys when you’re at the grocery store. Second, it prevents you from buying food you will not eat, food that will essentially be thrown in the garbage a few weeks after purchase. Finally, menu planning encourages you to keep an inventory so that you not stocking up on certain items unnecessarily.
Saving Through Bulk Purchasing
Saving by making bulk purchases is a little more difficult because you have to pay attention to what kind of purchases you’re making. For example, the popular BOGO (buy one, get one free) usually doesn’t save a whole lot of money when you break things down into raw math. BOGOs tend only to be good on items you consume regularly and in moderate volumes.
A better way to bulk purchase is to do so in the meat department. Grocery stores have a tendency to charge less per pound the more you buy. The advantage here is that you can cook an entire package of meat at one time and then freeze what you’re not going to use for a single meal. You’ll then have meat you can pull out of the freezer for weeks afterwards. That saves a lot of money.
In the toiletries section, two-for-one deals can be good for things like shampoo, toothpaste, etc. These are nonperishable things you will eventually use over time. Just make sure not to buy just for the sake of buying. It doesn’t help to have ten bottles of shampoo around the house.
As always, keep an eye out for coupons in your Sunday newspaper and online. Coupons are still plentiful, even in the digital era. They are a good way to save money if you can find coupons for the brands you use. But just a warning: do not buy a more expensive brand you otherwise would avoid just because you have a coupon. Even with the coupon, you’re probably not going to save enough to make it cheaper than the off-brand you normally buy.
Saving money at the grocery store really boils down to planning before you head to the store. The better you are at planning, the less money you’ll spend on something we all have to spend on.