While I’m stuck at home, I’m trying not to go online shopping like the shopaholic I am and figure out ways I can save money when I do go out once again instead. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Americans spend $7,700 a year on groceries. Now these people aren’t college kids, but nonetheless that’s a lot of money. Here’s some ways you can go about saving money at the grocery store!
- Meal Plan Using What You Already Own
To make the most out of your ingredients, meal planning helps prevent you from buying excess ingredients that you may not need again. You can even look in your pantry or cabinets first while you are meal planning to help use what you already have and to help rotate what foods/canned or packaged goods you own. It also helps prevent you from accumulating too much food and having to throw things away.
Making extra can help offset how many ingredients you buy, saves you from having to cook again, and the cost per unit goes down with some bulk buys at the grocery store!
- Make a Grocery List
Having a shopping list to stick to not only keeps you from picking up things you don’t need, but makes your grocery store trip go quicker because you have an objective!
- Eat Before You Shop
Going shopping hungry makes you tempted to get foods you don’t need for a recipe or to purchase snacks that you don’t need.
- Freeze What You Don’t Use
Storing your extra ingredients or leftovers in the freezer not only helps prevent waste, but it keeps things handy for future meals. Those are less things you’ll have to replace for your next meal!
- Shop the top and bottom shelves
Grocery stores strategically place the most expensive items at eye-level, so shop at the top and bottom of the shelves to find the generic brands and the items that have the most value for their price.
- Look at the Price per Unit
That mysterious number, sometimes in another color, next to the total price of the item is the price per unit meaning the price per ounce, ml, fluid oz, etc. It will truly tell you if you are getting a bang for your buck. But BEWARE!, grocery stores might fudge the number so that they sell more. You can always check this number with the calculator on your phone if you are skeptical.
- Buy During Sales
This may seem like a simple thing, but as a college student it can be hard to wait to go to the grocery store or wait until things are on sale. Analyze the sale cycles of your grocery store to find when the things you want normally go on sale. Also, look at the weekly sales flyer of your favorite grocery stores online when you plan your list to make sure you can buy what you need on sale. You may need to change up your meal plan to utilize what is on sale and save you money.
- Stockpile If You Can
As a college student it can be hard to find the funds to buy extra, but if you can buy a little bit extra of a dried or canned food that you normally eat when it is on sale, you won’t need to buy more when it isn’t on sale! Having a stockpile also reduces the amount of groceries you may need to buy on a regular basis because you already have that item at home!
- Try Money Saving Apps/Coupons
Using coupons and money saving apps can be a small step to saving money. Apps like Ibotta, Rakuten, Honey, etc. can help you save money on the things you already purchase.
- Use a Cash System
The swipe of a card is tempting because the transfer of money is out of sight, out of mind. But if you do the math of how much your purchase should cost and bring cash instead, you will be more aware of how much you are spending and keep you from adding things you don’t need to your cart. Also, if you know how much your bill is going to be before going to the store, you can catch incorrect prices or cashier mess-ups at the register.
- Shop Less Often
Going to the store once every two weeks instead once a week, or even just going less often can help you spend less. There are fewer instances when you could be tempted to purchase something you don’t need. You spend less time, money, and energy trying to get to the grocery store if you make fewer trips to the store as well.
- Eat Less Meat
Meat costs much more than vegetables, even if you buy it on sale. Even if you can’t commit to going vegetarian, consider going one or two days a week meatless. You will end up purchasing less meat in total or conserving the meat you already have in your fridge or freezer and of course save money in the long run!
- Grow Your Own Herbs/Start Making Your Own Supplies
Chefs always herald how fresh herbs help bring dishes alive, but they are so expensive to buy. So grow your own! If you have a brown thumb, this can be difficult, but plants aren’t too expensive and yield much more than the plant cost. You can even dry or freeze herbs for use later! Also, cleaning supplies and condiments can get expensive and can be made at home for a fraction of the per unit cost!
- Shop in Season and Chop Your Own Food
Shopping for foods that are in season will be less expensive because the supply of those items is greater at the time. If you don’t know which foods are in season, you can always look online, but for example kale will be in season in the winter because it is a heartier leafy vegetable and citrus will be in season during the summer. Also, foods like fruits and vegetables that come pre-cut are always going to be more expensive in the per unit cost. So unless you really don’t want to use the energy to cut something, you’ll save money there too!