It’s the grocery cycle: You shop, you buy, you eat, then start over. But being prepared along with being vigilant on prices, coupons and brands can save big bucks.
To help you get a grip on this tasty but often expensive cost of living, here are five ways to cut the fat from your grocery bill.
1. Make a grocery list and check it twice. Going through your kitchen before hitting the supermarket is free, and a little planning can fatten your wallet by preventing expensive impulse buys. You might even save on gas by being organized because you won’t need to make a second shopping trip to buy those forgotten items. Use this free printable grocery shopping list to help you plan your next trip to the market.
2. Watch the price scanner. Mistakes on price scans are common at the grocery store and can cost you additional dollars. A Consumer Reports survey found that 6% of respondents were overcharged at the grocery checkout, and no particular chain stood out as more or less accurate. Watching while your grocery prices scan and verifying their accuracy at checkout can save you money and may even score you free food — many grocery chains will give you the item for free if it scans at the wrong price, but it’s up to you to spy the error.
3. Buy generic items over big brand names. Save a huge 10% to 50% on every shopping trip by switching your brand-name buys for generic items. It costs big bucks to market brand-name products, and you’re paying for that expense when you buy a food item with a recognizable label. Compare many generic items to the brand-name equivalent and you’ll find that the brands are not necessarily better than their less-advertised alternatives.
4. Stop clipping crappy coupons. Take a good look at the grocery coupons you’re clipping before getting excited about the deal. Many coupons offer deals on highly packaged foods low in nutrition and high in unpronounceable ingredients. Skipping the crappy coupons and opting to pay a little bit more for whole foods may be a better deal for your health in the long run.
5. Skip the cans, buy dried beans in bulk. Why are you buying beans canned in captivity? Buying dried beans in bulk and soaking them overnight is a frugal way to add protein to your diet without paying for the high cost of meat. Besides, dried beans are extremely cheap and expand when soaked, so your family gets more meal for every dining dollar spent by forgoing the canned variety.
Finding simple ways to cut your everyday food expenses takes a bit of practice, but the payoff can be huge. Keeping track of your budget using this free household budget spreadsheet can also help you save money on all your other living expenses.
This article was reported by Kerry K. Taylor for U.S. News & World Report.