A trip to the grocery store can put a huge dent in your household budget for the week, especially if you have many mouths to feed. Even those shopping for small households can get discouraged by the rising costs of basic necessities. However, there are many practical steps that can help to keep your budget out of the red while keeping your family well-fed and happy.
Planning is Crucial
Before you set foot in a grocery store, you should have a plan of action. Without a good list, you can wander aimlessly through the aisles. There is also a good chance that you will have to retrace your steps as you remember items that you forgot in another area of the store. A strategic list should be preceded by a menu plan for the week to ensure that all necessary ingredients have been identified. Take note of those items that you already have on hand so that you won’t make any unnecessary purchases. Additionally, organize your list according to the layout of the store that you will visit so that you can work your way through the facility without facing the temptation to buy goods that are not on the list. Cross off items as you select them to ensure that you don’t miss anything. Return trips can be budget killers.
Take time to compare your weekly grocery circulars to identify great deals. In fact, you may want to use those deals as the inspiration for your menu plan for the week, using those cheaper cuts of meat and in-season vegetables as a nutritional foundation. The more you study these circulars over time, the more familiar you will become with sale patterns and everyday pricing in your favorite stores.
You may also want to build comparisons into your time at the store. Per-unit pricing is now commonly displayed on shelf tags, making it easy to identify the best deal. In many cases, larger containers tend to have lower per-unit costs, but this is not always true. Study items that you purchase regularly so that you can spot a great deal quickly. Make similar comparisons on a store-by-store basis so that you know where to get the best deals.
Use Coupons and Loyalty Cards
Many stores provide lower prices on advertised items when a loyalty card is used. Coupons can be used to lower these costs even more, but your coupons are typically available only for brand name goods. In many cases, generic items will trump the pricing of brands. However, loyalty cards may offer digital coupons and other incentive programs that include store brands.
Explore Dollar Store Pricing
You may be surprised to discover excellent pricing on condiments, frozen fruit, snacks, and other foods and household needs at a dollar store. However, it is important to restrict your shopping to only those grocery items that are needed. Leave the kids at home so that you can bypass the toy and candy aisles as these items tend to be a huge attraction for youngsters.
Keep at It
With a little planning, and sticking to a budget, you can save a lot of time and money on your groceries.