Besides the cost of housing, groceries are typically one of the most significant line items for any family’s budget. It doesn’t matter if you live alone or you’re a family of four, buying food is expensive. Since groceries seem to keep rising in price, many people are looking for ways to cut back, but is it practical?
Reducing how much you spend at the grocery store can be easy, but it also takes a little bit of work. There’s no point in shopping for food if you’re not going to cook any of it. Here are 10 tips for saving money at the grocery store.
Check Your Flyers
Many people throw out flyers as soon as they get them in the mail, but they’re the easiest way to save money on groceries. Take a look at what’s on sale and see if you can plan your meals for the week around it. By doing this, you’ll be reducing the amount you spend on each meal. You’ll also want to pay attention to any pantry staples that are on sale. If the price is good, you might as well stock up.
Having a meal plan is essential since you’ll know exactly what you plan to eat during the week so you can shop accordingly. Ideally, you want to choose meals that line up with anything that’s on sale. For example, if a chicken is on sale, then plan to make a few chicken dishes. You’ll know exactly what to buy with a meal plan so you won’t be tempted to buy random things.
Although it’s becoming less common, some grocery stores will price match their competitors. Major retailers that price match includes No Frills, Real Canadian Super Store, Save on Foods and FreshCo. All you need to do is show them a competitor’s flyer with the lower price, and they’ll match it for you. Carrying around a bunch of flyers can be a bit annoying, so use an app such as Reebee or Flipp since they show everything digitally on your mobile device.
Avoid Food Waste
Food waste has become a significant issue for households and is likely one of the reasons why you’re spending a lot on groceries. Think about it, how often are you throwing out food because you didn’t finish it or you let it go bad because you didn’t use it? Having a meal plan and only buying what you need will minimize your food waste. You’ll also need the willpower to say no if someone asks you to go out and eat when you already have something ready at home.
Join a Loyalty Program
Many grocery stores now have a loyalty program to encourage you to keep shopping with them. These programs can be incredibly valuable since you’ll earn points that can later be used to redeem for free groceries or merchandise. PC Optimum is easily the most popular grocery loyalty program in Canada since it allows you to earn points at Loblaws owned grocery stores, Shoppers Drug Mart, and Esso/Mobil gas stations. That’s a lot of locations where you can rack up the points. In addition, they have PC Optimum Insiders where you’ll earn additional PC Optimum points on select products and services.
Avoid Shopping When Hungry
Let’s be honest, everyone has shopped on a hungry stomach before and bought things on impulse. I still have canned soup, pasta sauce, and boxes of cereal that I was sure I was going to use that week. In reality, they’ve all been sitting in my pantry for a year. When you start grabbing random things off the shelf, that’s when your bill starts getting expensive.
Buy in Bulk
Buying in bulk will usually mean better prices, but it depends on what you’re buying. Generally speaking, rice, beans, and cereal is cheaper when you buy in bulk. That said, you need to do the math to see if it’s actually cheaper per unit or 100g. There are times when things appear to be cheaper in bulk, but in reality, they’re more expensive. Getting a membership at a bulk store such as Costco can also work in your favour since everything comes in bulk sizes. The prices are typically better here, but some items are still cheaper at regular grocery stores.
Consider Going Generic
For those on a tight budget, switching to generic brands can help you save money. There’s a stigma that no name brands don’t taste good or aren’t of high quality, but that’s not always the case. Quite often major food manufacturers produce a discount brand to help people on a fixed income. While many brand name products do taste better compared to generic, you might be surprised at the quality that’s available out there. Try out a few house brand items to see if you can notice a difference. Making the switch might be worth it for your wallet.
Budget for Fun
Eating at home every meal can get boring fast, so make sure you allocate some of your grocery budget to eating out. Better yet, consider takeout since you won’t have to tip or purchase drinks. You also shouldn’t feel guilty if you want to buy junk food while at the grocery store. As long as you’re not going over your monthly budget, you can buy whatever you want.
Use a Cash Back Credit Card
Another easy way to save money on groceries is to use a cashback credit card. In case you’re not familiar with cashback cards, they give you a fixed amount back in cash whenever you charge purchases to your card. You won’t get the cash right away, it usually builds in your account until you have accumulated enough to cash out or to make a redemption. Every cashback credit card is different, so you need to see what’s best for you. There are even some cards that give you extra cashback when shopping at grocery stores, so they can be advantageous if you have one.