Whether you’re buying for one, or a family of four, groceries likely take a big bite out of your monthly budget. Food ranks #3 in household expenses, with an average monthly tab for a family of four ranging from $568 for the extra-thrift to $1,293 for the free spenders.
Supermarket-savings experts provided MONEY with their advice on trimming fat from your grocery expenses. Adopting just a few of these saving schemes can cut your bill down by 25%!
Finding the best prices, dodging coy store tricks, and resisting impulse buys can equate to $1,700 to $3,900 in annual savings.
Sounds drool-worthy to us!
Do an Inventory Check.
Every month, take a tally of the contents of your pantry and freezer to get an idea of what you’re low on, and what you have an abundance of.
“You don’t want to get in a panic when you’re in the grocery store and impulse buy an item at full price only to go home and find you’ve already got it,” says Annette Economides, co-author of the accessibly-titled Cut Your Grocery Bill in half with America’s Cheapest Family.
If you’re having trouble tracking what you have and what you don’t, use an app like Out of Milk.
Limit Grocery Trips to Once Per Week.
“The less you shop, the more you save,” says Economides, in her second snippet of shrewd grocery shopping advice.
It goes without saying the less opportunity you have to shop, the less chance you have to spend. One grocery expedition per week reduces the chances of impulse purchases and saves money on gas, too.
So clean out the car in order to pile up a week’s worth of groceries in one go!
Take Advantage of IOUs.
After doing research and targeting a sale item, don’t give up on it if they end up being sold out. Ask the store for a rain check, giving you the same sales price on the item when it’s back in stock, regardless if the promo is still running or not.
If you don’t plan on returning to the store anytime soon, ask a manager if you can a similar item for the sales one. Some may oblige, and you have nothing to lose anyway.
The more people tagging joining the grocery festivities, the more likely you’ll succumb to impulse purchases. According to a Marketing Science Institute study, 65% of items you find in your cart when you group shop are bought on impulse, an 8% hike on solo shopping.
To be fair, you kids probably don’t want to be dragged to the grocery store anyway.
DIY Slicin’ and Dicin’.
Prepackaged and single-serving foods required ‘prep’, so they naturally have higher prices. This is mark-up city for grocery stores, so try to avoid these convenient options when possible.
It’s more time-consuming, but buying foods in whole – chickens, block cheese, fruits – and chopping them up yourself will save you significant dollars. Small servings for packed lunches, for example, can be divvied up into baggies or Tupperware.
Bring A Shopping Soundtrack.
You may’ve noticed it on your grocery excursions: grocery stores play slower music to subconsciously get you to move slowly through the aisles. No really, there’ve been studies on the grocery phenomenon that causes shoppers to spend 29% more!
Rather than dragging your feet to their monotonous beat, create an uplifting mix similar to what you’d listen to at the gym. It’ll get you moving through the aisles, keeping you light and nimble on your feet so you can escape the impulse to purchase excessively.