With a little planning, you can slash your grocery bills without decreasing the amount or quality of the foods you buy. Many grocery stores make their profits off shoppers who don’t compare prices or wait for sales, which is often all you have to do to trim your food spending. You don’t need to be a super coupon saver, drive around town to multiple grocery stores, or set aside a room in your house to stockpile canned goods.
It’s the Math
While it might not seem like saving 60 cents on a can of green beans is worth your time, it’s not the 60 cents you’re saving that matters – it’s the 25 or 35 or 50 percent you save that adds up when you buy thousands of items during the year. If you can save $100 month on groceries, that’s more than $1,400 each year (if you carry those charges on your credit card for a year at a 20 percent APR). Put that in your 401(k) and with your employer match, you just
added roughly $3,000 to your retirement account (including the interest you earn). And you can do this without eating rice and beans every day!
Add Frozen and Canned Fruits and Vegetables
Fresh fruits and veggies are healthy and taste great, especially when you’re cooking a favorite meal. But are they really more nutritious than canned or frozen? Nope. The vitamins don’t fall out of veggies when you put them in a can. Freezing fruits and vegetables doesn’t kill the healthy nutrients they contain. Having canned and frozen veggies around the house also means you’ll probably eat them more often and throw out less food – think about how often you toss out fresh items you buy because they go bad before you can finish them.
Have you Tried the House Brands?
Seriously. Some generic and house brand are as tasty or better than national brands that cost two to five times more. Can you really taste the difference between a box of generic pasta and a name brand package of spaghetti? What about cake mix? Do I even have to talk about toilet paper? And who do you think makes generics and house brands? It’s often the same companies that make them for the Big Boys. Start adding a few generics and house brands to your shopping cart on your next trip if you already don’t, to break the ice. Once you’re good with buying generics, you’ll be amazed at how many of the items you buy on a regular basis are available for one-half to two-thirds less than name brands.
Avoid the Pink Tax
Why do women pay more for shampoo, deodorant, razors and soap than men? Because a) marketers have convinced us that these products really are different, and b) women don’t check the prices on men’s products and vice versa, so many people don’t know this is happening. By some estimates, women can save more than $1,000 each year by purchasing generic or “male” versions of many personal care products.
Do A Little Bulk Buying
You don’t have to make your basement look like a fallout shelter to do some smart bulk buying. Write a list of the staples you buy on a regular basis, try to determine how may cans or boxes you buy each year, and wait until these items are on sale or you have coupons for them. If you eat two cans of soup each month, wait until soup is half price and buy 24 cans. Why buy bar soap, peanut butter or paper towels five or six times a year at full price? Check the use-by dates on items you bulk buy, and tack on an extra six months or one year to determine the realistic shelf life.