Groceries are a big part of the average household's expenses. Unfortunately, many of us end up wasting money at the grocery store by overspending. That is a tragedy because the money that we waste from inefficient shopping is money that we can't spend on reducing debt or investing. The good news is that a little bit of strategy goes a long way towards cutting a grocery bill down to size. Most people can save some money without making any sacrifices if they keep a few tricks in mind. Here are four super easy ways to save money on groceries.
Check the Unit Price
Grocery stores sell their products in a variety of packages, from gigantic bulk deals and family packs to individual servings. Popular wisdom says that buying in bulk is cheapest, but that isn't always true. In order to save money on groceries, always check the unit price. Smart shoppers can save money by taking the time to compare the unit price of each option. It is easy to calculate that price on your own, but you can usually find it on the price tag. The unit price tells you the cost of a specific unit of the item, rather than the cost of the whole package. For example, the unit price of flour is usually the price per pound.
The item with the lowest unit price is usually the most efficient option, but there is a big exception to that rule. Some people buy big packages to get the best unit price, but end up wasting food because it spoils before they can use it all. That eliminates the savings from finding the most efficient deal. In general, you should buy the package with the best unit price if you are going to use all of it.
Plan Around Sales
Shoppers can also save money on groceries by planning ahead and taking advantage of sales. The easiest way is to make a menu for the upcoming week, or even the upcoming month, whenever local stores send out their list of sales for that period. That menu should focus on the foods that are on sale and affordable.
This method actually has advantages beyond the discounts from the sales. People who plan their meals in advance waste less food and make fewer shopping trips than people who improvise their menu. That can save a lot of time and money. It can also be helpful for people that want to improve their diet with healthier options by making it easier to stick with the planned, healthy meals.
Be Wary of Convenience Foods
Saving time usually means wasting money. Prepared meals and other convenience foods usually cost much more than ingredients. They also tend to be less healthy. They can be appealing for people who need to save time, but there are other ways to get easy meals at a fraction of the price.
Consider replacing convenience foods with recipes that are quick and easy to cook in order to save money on groceries. Some people prefer to prepare many servings in advance and leave them in the freezer to make their own convenience food. Even simple changes, such as replacing sliced foods with whole equivalents can save a little bit of money.
Always Use Cash to Save Money on Groceries
Many grocery shoppers end up spending far more than they ever intended. It is all too easy to overspend because grocery stores encourage people to make impulse purchases. The easiest way to avoid that is to carry and spend a limited amount of cash instead of using a credit or debit card. This allows you to spend exactly what you want, and in turn, save money on groceries. People who use cash can only spend the money that they are carrying, which limits the amount of financial damage that an impulse buy can do. It is fine to carry a little bit of extra money for emergencies or treats, but carrying too much is a major financial risk.