Do you find that your weekly grocery shop puts a huge dent in your monthly budget?
Every family is different of course but I am willing to bet that outside your mortgage (and possibly even including your mortgage), your weekly grocery or supermarket bill is your largest piece of monthly expenditure.
So on the basis that one of the ways that you can start managing your money is to look at what you spend on a week by week basis, it makes perfect sense to start where you can make most difference - and that is your grocery shop.
This is the area that you can likely make the biggest difference with the least effort.
As a family, we used to overspend considerably on our weekly shop - especially when the kids we small - but with a little focus and self-discipline, we managed to cut our monthly bill by around 35% - even with 3 growing teenagers...
Believe it or not I usually do the family shopping in the supermarket - not because I enjoy it - but because I am actually quite good (even if I say so myself) at sticking to a budget when I shop.
No distractions for me, I am laser focused(!).
The ironic thing is that I hate shopping so not sure how I have lumbered myself with that one, but sometimes needs must...
Anyway here are my top tips on how to save money grocery shopping (honed through many years experience)
1) Pick Your Time
Try and avoid shopping
.. the kids are with you (you'll give in at some point)
.. you are hungry (you'll give in to goodies at some point)
.. you are tired (you'll lose your discipline)
2) It May Be Boring But Take A List and Stick To It
I am going to sound like the biggest nerd going but I find the best way to shop to a list is to go through the following steps..
1) Make a List (duh!) ... the key to making a list is to work out your menu for the week (which may actually involve sitting down with the family and finding out what they are doing).
2) Make an inventory of non-food items that are needed
3) I then (and this is the sad bit) mentally walk around the supermarket aisle by aisle making my list as I walk down the aisle in my head... this of course assumes you know the supermarket well so I always tend to shop in the same one (more on that later)
4) Of course the actual shop is only half the picture. If you have made a menu for the week and shopped against that menu then you must stick to that menu. No sneaky takeaways, no cheating... if you are going to save money on the shop don't go spending it elsewhere
5) Consider making double meals and freezing half .... this will save you money and time in the long run and is well worth considering
3) Seek Out and Use Coupons
Seek out money saving coupons either in your local newspaper, online, or check the coupons given to you in last weeks shop, and if that item is on your list then use the coupon.
Ten minutes spent clipping coupons can save you a significant amount of money, especially if you do it over a period of time.
However, I wouldn't advocate wasting hours and hours on coupon clipping - on the basis that time is money - just seek out the best coupons and use them.
Oh, and just one pitfall of coupon clipping is that sometimes you might be drawn into buying something you don't actually need..... just bear that in mind!
4) Do a Monthly Online Shop For The Big Items
It may cost you a few pounds or dollars to get an online shop delivered but I tend to do one online shop a month and get all the big and bulky stuff delivered to my door.
For instance, I will get a months supply of washing powder or dishwasher tablets or toilet roll or pet food delivered once a month through the online route.
This makes both the process of going to the store in subsequent weeks much easier, plus saves money over the month because in general with these items the bigger the packet you buy the more you will save per item..
Of course this means that one weeks shop in a month is going to be much more expensive than subsequent weeks so I tend to budget on a monthly rather than a weekly basis
5) Go For The In-Store Brands
Don't be afraid to for the in-store basics own brands which are usually significantly cheaper than their branded counterparts. In fact in some instances seek out the bottom shelf very basic packaging items which are really cheap.
You do have to balance this approach, however, because in certain instances this approach won't work.
Breakfast cereals come to mind - there is no point in buying a really cheap brand if it tastes like cardboard and just won't be eaten.... but things like tins of tomatoes, kidney beans etc can be bought significantly cheaper...
6) Shop In the Same Supermarket/Grocery Store Week On Week
Now I must admit there are 2 schools of thought on shopping
i) To seek out bargains through careful research and spread your shop across a number of different stores thereby ensuring you get the cheapest possible for every item on your list
ii) Always shop in the same grocery store
I subscribe to the latter view (generally) mainly on the basis that time is money and the more familiar you get with a store the more efficient you are going to be. What I find as well is that by shopping in the same store you can make best use of coupons, bargains and loyalty cards .. talking of which
7) Sign Up And Use Loyalty Cards
Yes I know some argue that there are privacy issues but store loyalty cards can save you a significant amount of money (often outside of the store in question), so use them for every bit of shopping you do...
8) Find out When Your Supermarket Reduce Their Fresh Goods
Most supermarkets will have a time of day where they take out the pricing gun and reduce their fresh goods which are "on their date"
Find out when your store reduces the prices on fresh goods (they will often have a specific shelf for bargains) and shop at that time ...the danger here is that you will go "off list" so tread carefully!
Freeze anything you can, or use it immediately - otherwise you may have a bargain but it will have gone past it's best before date
9) Use Cash Not Cards
This is actually my Top "How to Save Money Grocery Shopping" Tip ...
SHOP WITH CASH
I will repeat that only louder ... SHOP WITH CASH...
It is amazing how much shopping with cash focuses the mind on what is essential and what is not. If you only have a limited amount of cash to spend then that is what you will spend.
So I draw out my budgeted amount at the beginning of my shop and add things up in my head as I go along. My tip here is not to go round and add everything up exactly but to round everything up to the nearest pound or dollar (or whatever currency is relevant to you)
Think about when you were a kid and went to the sweet shop with just a $1 note in your pocket (or a £1, or 1euro). If you into pick and mix you had some really tough choices to make as to what you were going to buy. But the bottom line was that you only had $1. You couldn't go over it.
Adopt this same attitude when shopping and the best way to do that is to shop with cash
Keep the figure in your head as you go round, or jot down in a notebook, or take a small calculator. This way you'll know that you are within your budgeted figure when you get to the checkout
If you find at the end of the shop that you are likely to overspend then some hard decisions will have to be made about what to keep and what to discard.... DON'T BE TEMPTED TO GET MORE MONEY OUT... STICK TO THE CASH YOU HAVE ...
I find this is a really powerful method of defining and sticking to a budget which avoids any surprises at the checkout...
10) Consider The Merits of Internet Grocery Shopping
I initially avoided the merits of internet shopping because (with my frugal hat on) they charge for delivery.
However, I then sat down and worked out the actual petrol costs of getting to and from the supermarket, and then my own time doing the shop itself and had a bit of a re-think
What I do now (as previously mentioned) is one big internet shop at the beginning of the month focused on bulkier items such as large tubs of washing powder or toilet rolls. The idea is that this shop lasts for the full month and makes the weekly shop that much easier
In Summary ....
There you have it... all I know about saving money when grocery shopping.
The key really is to make a plan and by hook or by crook stick to it both in and out of store.
So if you have made a menu for the week and shopped to that menu the job is still only half done...you have to follow it, and then repeat the cycle the following week and each subsequent week
So with a bit of thought and some planning you can save money when grocery shopping .. over to you!
[box color="silver" type="square" icon="lightbulb"]
For lots of easy tips and tricks to save money on groceries and in the kitchen,check out Living on a Dime
Hope you enjoyed this article on how to save money grocery shopping, there are plenty more money saving articles on the site