7 Strategies for cutting grocery bills

Seven Strategies for Cutting Your Grocery Bill

By Mike Peterson
In January 4, 2016

Seven Strategies for Cutting Your Grocery Bill

Looking for a way to save more money each month? You might want to start with a long, thorough review of your grocery spending habits.  Are you overspending on fancy items you can’t really afford and don’t really need?  Are you going to the store without a plan?  If you’re like most people, you can probably answer “yes” to more than one of those.

The good news is that, with a little bit of effort, you can take a pretty hefty chunk out of your monthly grocery bill.  And that means you’ll have more cash left over for other, more important things like paying down debt or building up your emergency fund.

Here are seven ways you can trim the fat from your food spending.

  1. Avoid the name-brand items.  In most cases, the grocery-store brand is just as good as the national brand – you’re basically paying for packaging. Swap out some of your big-name items with their generic counterparts and you could instantly shave a few bucks off of your grocery bill.
  2. Chop, slice, and dice your own stuff.  It’s tempting to give in to convenience — especially when your grocery store’s produce section offers little trays of of pre-diced bell peppers and onions or plastic tubs of pineapple or watermelon, cut into bite-sized chunks.  But that convenience comes with a price:  Markup on pre-cut fruits and veggies can be 50 percent or higher.
  3. Plan your meals, check your pantry, and make a list.  Grocery shopping without a list is a surefire way to inflate your food bill – and you’re more likely to walk out of the store with a cartful of impulse purchases that just looked good at the time.  Know what you’re going to eat, and when.  Then, check your pantry to see what ingredients you already have on hand. Anything that’s missing goes on your grocery list.
  4. Make brown rice and dried beans your go-to staples.  Why? Because rice and beans are inexpensive, nutritious, and can be used in hundreds of different ways.  And, because they keep well, you can buy them from the bulk section of your grocery store, which makes them even more affordable.

And while we’re on the subject of bulk buying. . .

  1. Buy bulk spices, too.  Brand-name spices are ridiculously expensive – you’re mostly paying for the packaging and the name. What’s more, when you buy bulk spices, you can buy as little or as much as you want, which cuts cost and waste.
  2. Be mindful of sales and coupons.  Coupons and sale prices are great – but only if they actually save you money.  If it’s not something you’d buy under normal circumstances, don’t buy it just because it was on sale or because you had a coupon.  Along the same lines, don’t buy too much of anything with a short shelf life. If you have to throw away extra unused and/or spoiled sale purchases, you didn’t save any money.
  3. Buy non-food items somewhere else.  Grocery stores almost always have higher prices on personal care items, paper products, and cleaning supplies (and they usually have a smaller selection, too).  That’s why it’s much better to divide your household shopping between two stores: Do your food shopping at the grocery store, but make a separate trip for personal and household purchases – drugstores and big-box discount stores like Target and Walmart typically have better prices.

None of these tips are exactly drastic or difficult to implement – but you might be surprised just how much you can save of you stick to them. A few smart strategies can go a long way. Need more advice about debt, budgeting, or responsible credit card use?  We’re here for you. Contact the Debt Guru team today for a free debt counseling and analysis.

Happy shopping – and eating! – from the Debt Guru team.

Mike is the author of “Reality Millionaire: Proven Tips to Retire Rich” and he has been published in a variety of local and national publications including Entrepreneur Magazine, Deseret Morning News, LDS Living Magazine, and Physicians Money Digest. He holds a B.S. in business administration from the University of Phoenix.