Do you feel you’re always running to the groceries store to grab something you forgot? Do you always look at your receipt in shock at how much you spent? The grocery store is one of the easiest places to send your budget off the rails.
Fortunately, with some tips and discipline, you can take fewer trips to the grocery store and spend less on groceries. Follow the tips below to make food shopping much easier for you and your wallet.
Plan Out a Menu
When you plan out a menu for the week, you can know what you need to buy at the store. If you have little time to cook or don’t enjoy cooking, be sure to find simple recipes, you’ll likely make, even if it’s an evening when you’re tired.
A menu is helpful because it stops you from buying a bunch of random items that you may or may not be able to assemble into a meal.
Plan Your Menu Around Sales
Many grocery stores run weekly sales. You can use these sales to your benefit by planning your weekly menu around the sales. For example, if a particular meat is on sale, include it in your menu for that week.
However, don’t let sales guide your shopping. You’ll often wind up buying things you don’t need and will spend more money. You may buy things you don’t like and will wind up wasting food.
Make a List
Once you have a menu, it’s time to make a list. Make your list in the kitchen so you can check your pantry and refrigerator for items you already have. Remember to include staples like bread, milk, and butter to your list, along with snacks and any other foods you need for breakfast and lunch.
A list helps you manage what you spend at the store. You may have to discipline yourself to stick to your shopping list unless you genuinely forgot to include something you need.
You can keep a running list in your kitchen to help you remember what you need. Many apps for your phone or voice assistant make keeping a running list super easy.
Don’t Go When You’re Hungry
Try to plan your shopping trips for a time when you’ve recently had a meal or snack. When you’re hungry, you tend to buy more food. You also tend to buy foods you don’t need, like junk food. You’ll be healthier and save money.
Shop the Perimeter
If you’re aiming to buy healthier foods, shop the perimeter of the grocery section of your store. The perimeter area usually features nutritious foods like fresh fruits and vegetables, dairy, and proteins.
The inner aisles usually have more junk and prepackaged food. If you buy around the perimeter, you’ll be on the right track to making smart food choices. You’ll also save money, as prepackaged foods tend to be expensive.
Use Coupons Wisely
Coupons can help you to save money, but they can also be a trap. If you’re buying more than you’d initially buy just to use coupons, then you aren’t saving money. While some people have success with couponing and saving money over time, you’ll need to be careful to ensure that you are actually using what you buy.
Coupons are only valuable when you find ones for things you already buy. There are many websites online where you can search and print coupons, allowing you to get coupons for the things you’re planning to buy.
Utilize Grocery Pickup/Delivery
Sometimes going to the store is too tempting. You may find yourself buying things you don’t need or foods that are unhealthy. If you struggle with impulse shopping, then you may want to consider grocery pickup or delivery.
Many stores let you place an order online. You can then do a curbside pickup at the store or have it delivered to your home. Most curbside pickups are free with a minimum purchase. You usually pay a fee for deliveries, but you may still save by preventing impulse buys.
Buy in Bulk…Sometimes
Grocery stores often sell items in bulk, or you can join a wholesale retailer like Sam’s or Costco. These places require a yearly membership. In many cases, you can save a lot by purchasing the items you frequently use in bulk.
You can save money buying in bulk only if you buy the right items. Be sure to purchase items that you will use before they expire. Otherwise, you’re wasting money.
You should also check the unit price on any items sold in different sizes. You’ll typically pay less per unit when buying bulk, but now and then, you’ll find something that’s cheaper to buy in the smaller size.
Join Loyalty Programs
Many grocery stores have loyalty programs that help you save over time. You’ll usually sign up with an app,, or you’ll get a card. Stores often run sales that only loyalty members can access. You may get a discount on a minimum purchase.
Loyalty programs often let you collect points. Over time, you can collect and apply the points to a future purchase. These programs work best if you tend to shop at the same store often.
Buy the Right Foods
If you want to focus on eating healthier, you need to buy nutrient-dense foods like fruits, vegetables, and proteins. These foods give your body the energy it needs while not exceeding your calorie count.
Junk foods are empty calories and only fill you up temporarily. You’ll wind up eating more. These foods also tend to be more expensive, so you’ll spend more too.
Consider Buying Generic
Most grocery stores offer generic versions of name-brand products. Usually, these items are nearly the same as their name-brand counterparts. Generic options are usually 20-25% cheaper than name-brand.
Those savings can really add up. If there are a few items that you prefer in a name brand, keep buying them. But get generic whenever you can.
Try to Make Fewer Trips to the Store
When you go to a grocery store, there’s a good chance you’ll buy one or more things that you didn’t intend to buy. If you’re running to the store every few days, you’re likely buying a lot that you don’t need. Those few extra dollars here and there can add up over the course of a year.
Try to plan out your grocery list so that you shop every one-two weeks. You’ll spend less money, and you’ll save valuable time.
Bring the Family?
Bringing the family is a toss-up and depends on your kids. If your kids are picky, then it can be helpful to bring them to the grocery store with you. They’ll be exposed to a variety of foods. If they get a chance to pick some things out, they may feel more adventurous at mealtimes.
However, if your kids are the types who insist on buying everything and are constantly trying to sneak things into the shopping cart, then you may be better off shopping alone. A meltdown isn’t fun for you or your kids.
Shopping for groceries is a necessity, but it doesn’t have to be a miserable experience. With the right mindset, you can save money and eat more nutritious foods. Follow these tips to get your grocery shopping on the right track.