There are many different grocery savings tips out there, but most of the general advice involves spending a lot of time cutting coupons, driving from store to store, shopping at odd times, and creating a full-blown price book.
For many of us, that is just too much fuss and a larger time commitment than we can handle right now. The good news is that you can still lower your grocery bill without all of the fuss by just following a few simple rules.
1. Find the right store and stick with it
Without going crazy, compare prices on a few of your regular items, such as milk, a favorite brand of cereal, frozen chicken, etc. When you add up these items, which store charges you less? For example, in my area, Trader Joes is cheaper than Whole Foods, and Giant is less expensive than Acme on the items I usually purchase. Stores in rural or suburban areas usually charge less than those in metropolitan areas. Driving an extra ten minutes out of your way might be worth it for a cart full of groceries.
2. Skip the prepared food
Cut vegetables and fruit can cost up to three times as much as whole vegetables and those prepackaged lunch kits are astronomically expensive when you consider how much food you are actually getting in them. Stick with basic food sources and the simplest packaging, and the cost of your groceries will automatically go down.
Yes, you will have to do a little more kitchen prep at home, but to me, cutting up some celery takes much less time that cutting up some coupons.
3. Look down (or up) at the shelves
The most expensive items in the store are placed on the shelves that are at eye level, or on the end caps of the aisles. This is a marketing strategy to get busy shoppers to spend, spend, spend. Instead, look at the top and bottom shelves in the grocery store for the cheapest items, usually local or generic brands.
4. Do a quick scan of your receipt
When you get a chance, do a quick scan of your latest grocery receipt. Without a lot of fuss, simply note which items on the list were the most expensive. Think about alternatives that you could buy instead, such as chicken instead of red meat or frozen vegetables instead of fresh.
5. Skip the personal care items at the grocery store
For personal care items, such as shampoo, toothpaste, sun screen and vitamins, the grocery store is usually the most expensive option. Purchase these types of items separately at a drug store, a dollar store or one of those super “mart” stores for the greatest savings.