It’s easy to get lost in the food-driven haze of the grocery store. So many labels calling your name. New and tasty-looking foods beckoning you to come hither.
Checkout line items begging to be added to your cart. It can be easy to feast your way into monetary famine, which is why it’s important to learn how to go grocery shopping on a budget.
Don’t worry. Nobody is saying you need to forgo your favorite items or can’t grab an indulgent treat now and then. There are ways to save money grocery shopping without skimping on taste, even if you’re paying off debts. Frugal foragers can add these tips to their financial arsenal to help save money on grocery shopping.
Tips For Budget Grocery Shopping
1. Making a List and Sticking to It
Going to the supermarket requires a bit of planning. Before heading out the door, write down all the things you need, including food, household supplies, toiletries, and anything else you may need to grab at the store.
Do not veer away from the list. Yes, those pineapples sure look great, and hey, they’re on sale, but are they on your list? No? Then keep walking. Sticking to items on a list can help shoppers avoid impulse buys and food waste—those items that sit idle in the fridge or on the countertop because they never had an assigned meal to begin with.
2. Creating a Meal Plan
Speaking of prep, it could be a good idea to try meal planning. Meal planning is exactly as described: creating a set menu for the week. Planning the menu and creating the grocery list could save shoppers more than a pretty penny.
One analysis found that restaurant delivery was almost five times more expensive than cooking at home, and that a meal kit was nearly three times as expensive as cooking from scratch.
Try finding a few tasty dishes online to make at home this week that will still make you feel like you’re dining out in style. (You could even tip yourself 20% afterward if you’re so inclined.)
3. Leaning Into Leftovers
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture
TEXT , food waste is estimated at 30 to 40% of the food supply. Too big a number to wrap your head around? OK, think of this: According to a poll for Bosch home appliances, Americans throw away an average of 103 pounds of spoiled food from the fridge every year.
That means the average American tosses out about $53.81 worth of food a week, or $2,798 a year, the research found. Rather than let food items sit unnoticed in the fridge, try incorporating them into more meals.
Last night’s dinner may make an excellent breakfast dish with a fried egg on top. Have extra veggies? Toss them into a smoothie for a healthy boost. Or simply reheat a meal and enjoy it again to stretch your budget and waste less in the process.
4. Giving Online Grocery Shopping a Try
Think you’ll be tempted to go off-script if you enter a grocery store? You might want to try online grocery shopping instead. There are now several options available for consumers around the nation.
Just about everyone can take advantage of Amazon Pantry, which sells many grocery store staples. On the website, users can choose one-off delivery items or recurring items (like monthly toilet paper supplies) so they never run out.
On a more local level, grocery stores such as Walmart, Ralphs, and Pavilions offer online shopping. Users can log on, select their items, and choose to either pick up their order in the store or have it delivered at their convenience. This could help consumers again save money by avoiding impulse buys.
5. Avoiding the Grocery Store When Hungry
It might be a good idea to eat before hunting and gathering provisions, not because you’ll buy more food but because you may actually end up buying a bunch of random other stuff if you do.
According to a University of Michigan study, consumers who entered a grocery store hungry were more inclined to buy greater quantities of non-food items. The researchers concluded that hunger increased the amount of money participants spent.
6. Shopping at the Stores You Already Know
Having a tried and true grocery store may be good for your wallet. Walking into a store you’re familiar with means you already know where to get the items on your list.
Head into an unfamiliar store and you may be left wandering the aisles for what seems like an eternity trying to find your goods.
That’s because grocery stores are set up to be a little confusing and to drive consumers to have to do a bit of wandering as that’s when you’re more likely to make random purchases.
7. Bringing Your Own Bags
One quick way to potentially drive down the cost of your grocery store run is to BYOB—bring your own bags. Many stores now reward bag-toting customers by reimbursing them about 5 to 10 cents a bag at checkout.
It may feel like a small financial transaction, but it’s one that can also add up for the environment. Plastic bags may take up to 1,000 years to decompose into organic matter.
8. What’s Worth a Hill of Beans? Beans
Yeah, we said it. Beans are your friends, not only because they’re inexpensive but because they’re nutritious. In fact, beans are a much better nutritional bargain than steak, according to Harvard Health Publishing .
A bag of dried beans—soybeans (aka edamame), chickpeas (or garbanzo beans), navy beans, black beans, pintos—costs a pittance and can feed a tribe.
9. Joining Loyalty Programs
One more way to potentially save at the checkout is to join a grocery store’s loyalty program. Many stores now offer discounts for regular shoppers and secret sale items only for those who’ve signed up.
It’s typically quick, easy, and free to join, though some stores like Whole Foods require customers to be part of its Amazon Prime membership service, which comes with a yearly fee. Still, it may be worth it as discounts at the register can add up to real savings.
Checking Out SoFi Money
If you want to avoid signing up for loyalty perks, there is another option: cash-back rewards with SoFi Money® by setting up direct deposit or inflows of $500 per month.
The cash management account also allows users to organize expenses with vaults, or subaccounts, so a trip to the grocery store can be as gratifying as a last-minute impulse ice cream purchase.
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