Buying groceries is the third biggest expense in an average household, coming in just behind housing and transportation respectively. There is definitely some wiggle room when it comes to how much you spend at the grocery store.
Several factors, such as rising food prices, smaller packaging, and clever marketing campaigns, can make it difficult to find the best deals if you don’t know what to look for. Below are six ways you can save money on your groceries every time you go to the store.
1. Figure Out the Best Time to Shop
Every locale is different, but in general, stores tend to raise prices just a bit during their busiest times because a.) they don’t have to work as hard to make a sale, and b.) most customers don’t even notice the increase in prices. On average, the busiest shopping times for most stores include paydays, government paydays (retirement, family allowances, and social assistance checks), holiday/long weekends, the 1st, 15th, and 31st of the month, and Fridays and Saturdays.
Many stores lower prices back to normal or even offer better deals on off-peak days such as Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays when fewer people tend to shop. Peak and off-peak times may vary in your neck of the woods, so spend a little time tracking the patterns and prices in your favorite store to find out when the best time to shop is for you.
2. Pay Attention to Expiration Dates
Many people take for granted that the food they’re buying is fresh, but it’s a common practice for stores to stock foods that expire from back to front. This means, the freshest food is placed at the back of the shelf or at the bottom of the row and the older, closer-to-expire food is at the front or top so it sells faster.
If you’re buying fresh foods that have expiration dates, pick through the packages to find the ones with the longest expiry dates so you have more time to use the item before it goes bad.
3. Shop Smart – Shop Less
One of the easiest ways to save money on your grocery bill is to make fewer trips to the grocery store. Making multiple trips to the store each week gives you ample opportunity to buy more than you need, and it costs more in gas, too. You can avoid this extra spending by making just one or two major shopping trips a month, and then only head to the store to replenish things like bread and milk in between.
4. Don’t Go Shopping on an Empty Stomach
You’re more likely to fill your cart with extras when you’re hungry, so never go grocery shopping on an empty stomach. If certain foods are just too tempting (like chocolate), eat some of those foods before you head to the store. You’re more apt to leave the extras at the store if you satisfy your hunger and cravings beforehand.
5. Know the Better Deal
In general, buying fresh produce that’s already chopped and packaged is more expensive. However, when you only need a little bit, such as when you only need a couple of stalks of celery for a soup, it makes sense to just buy a stalk or two instead of an entire bunch. When you know you’ll only be throwing away what you don’t use, don’t be ashamed to buy the smaller, packaged version instead. You’ll save money at the register and avoid wasting food.
6. Go DIY
You can save a lot of money by making many household cleaners yourself. For instance, there are tons of recipes online for homemade laundry soap, all-purpose cleaners, dusting cloths, fabric softener, dryer sheets, and dishwasher soap.