How to Save on Groceries
The average American household spends $3,753 a year on groceries. Here are some tips to help you take a bite out of your grocery bill!
Your neighborhood grocery store is designed to upsell
Grocery stores are designed to make you slow down and wander around—and spend more money in the process.
Music: Studies have shown that music can affect your purchasing behaviors. Slow music makes you take your time and spend more money, while classical music encourages you to buy more expensive items.
Bulk sales: The promotion of bulk pricing can entice you to buy more product than you need, at prices that aren’t necessarily cheaper. If you really do need more, be sure to compare unit and volume prices to see if you are actually saving.
Store layout: The dairy department and other essentials are usually located in the back of the grocery store. This makes you walk through the entire store to get what you need, increasing the likelihood that you’ll buy more.
Sample stations: These delicious freebies are only there to break down your defenses and get you to buy something you wouldn’t otherwise purchase.
Bakery location: Grocery stores place the bakery department near the entrance, hoping that the smell of baked goods will activate your salivary glands and entice you to buy.
Checkout: This is the most profitable area of the grocery store. Glossy magazines and shiny candy bars entice you to throw a last-minute item or two into your basket.
Coupon clip your way to savings
Check for store or product coupons ahead of time to save major bucks.
- Groceries cost American households $312.75 a month
- An average family using coupons can save $38.40 a month
- That’s a potential savings of $460.80 a year
- Samples: Always sign up for a free sample. In most cases, your freebie will also come with coupons for significant savings and discounts on other related products.
- Social: Like your favorite brands on Facebook and follow merchants on Twitter. Many brands reward their loyal customers with exclusive offers, so you’ll stay up to date on contests and giveaways.
- Homework: Hard work pays off when it comes to couponing and saving money. Do online searches for the best price and search for coupons from grocery stores as well as from product companies.
Become a shelf master
Consider everything that you take from the shelf and place in your basket.
- Brand name vs. generic: Save the brand names for products where you can really taste and see the difference. For everything else, generic or store-brand products are just fine and cost much less.
- Paying for convenience: Convenience comes at a premium price. Avoid prewashed and precut fruits and vegetables, shredded cheese and other overpriced foods. Instead, save money by doing some of the work yourself.
- Compare price per unit: Packaging shapes and sizes can make it difficult to compare prices. Some retailers break down how much you are paying per unit on their price tags. If you’re still not sure, take out a calculator.
- Look up and look down: More expensive items are placed at eye level. For example, brand-name cereals are typically placed on middle shelves, while healthier options are at the top and cheaper cereals are at the bottom.
Do not put down your smartphone
Head into the store with the tools you need.
- Grocery list: Before hitting the store, download a list app or use the built-in notes app to make a list of items that you intend to purchase. Stick with your list to avoid overspending.
- Calculator: Your phone does math! When in doubt, use the built-in calculator to figure out unit costs.
- Comparison: Not sure if you’re looking at the best price? Use an online shopping app or your web browser to compare prices before buying.
Sources: CouponCabin.com, Food Marketing Institute, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics