A store inside of a building

No Coupon Zone: Small Steps to Save You Big Cash on Your Grocery Bill

March 8, 2017

Everyone has to buy food, but not everyone knows how to shop smartly. If you spend too much on groceries, and you aren’t the type of person who bothers clipping and redeeming coupons, you’ll want to know about a few small steps that can help you save big cash at the checkout line.

A store inside of a building

Location, location, location

Shop the perimeter of the supermarket and steer clear of the innermost aisles, suggests Huffington Post. The outside aisles of most grocery stores are where you’ll find produce, bread, meats and dairy products. Generally, the inner aisles are packed with processed foods. Instead of purchasing pricey pre-made foods, opt to buy ingredients and make your own. You’ll save a ton of money and eat healthier, too.

Whenever you’re browsing for a particular item, be sure to look at the top and bottom shelves. Stores employing marketing psychology tend to place the highest-priced goods at eye level. Chances are good that a similar item for a lower price is stocked above or below the most expensive brands.

Never fear, the savings are here

Don’t be afraid to try generic versions of products you are familiar with. In many cases, generics and store-branded goods are made by the same manufacturers of name-brand items. Never fear frozen produce, either. Picked-and-packed frozen peas, carrots, corn, Brussel sprouts and the like can cost a lot less than their fresh counterparts. Don’t fall for point-of-purchase displays of candy, sodas and miscellaneous items. Resist the urge to splurge on anything you don’t really need. Unplanned purchases can put a big hurt on your budget, especially when you’re trying to save money.

Learn to cook from scratch. A bag of dried pinto beans costs a mere fraction of the price of canned frijoles and offers multiple servings, as well. Soak beans overnight and simmer them in a crockpot while you’re at work all day, and you can come home to a tasty south-of-the-border treat that doesn’t cost a fortune. Visit a thrift shop and find a bread machine. A bag of flour and a few packets of yeast cost around the same as a loaf of gourmet bread and provide multiple loaves. Plus, there’s nothing that smells quite as wonderful as freshly baked bread.

An apple

Be credit card savvy

Carry the right sort of plastic. Believe it or not, there is a big difference in credit cards. Some, such as the Amex plenti credit card, give you rewards points every time you grocery shop. This card comes with no annual fees, and the points you earn can be spent on stuff you use every day at places like AT&T and Rite Aid.

Compare prices at local stores on items you typically buy. Scout online, or spend an afternoon visiting all the local grocers in your area. It may sound like a lot of work, but the savings can be amazing. For instance, say you spend $200 per week on food for your family. That adds up to more than $10,000 per year! If you were buying a big-ticket item like a car or television, you’d compare prices, right? Compare store-to-store costs on your usual shopping list items, and always shop at the store that has consistently lower prices. You’ll save a ton of dough, say money experts at Kiplinger.

Stock up on savings

Stock up on non-perishables when they’re on sale. Buy in bulk when you can and store dried beans, rice, pasta, and other long-lasting grocery items to eat well for months while pocketing substantial savings. Purchase large packages of hamburger and chicken parts and freeze meal-sized portions in individual zip bags. If you have freezer space, browse markdown meats and fill it up with half-priced steaks, chickens, and fish.

Post-holiday markdowns offer a great way to stock up and save on things like canned veggies, canned chicken stock and jars of gravy. Buy after-Easter candy for a fraction of the usual cost and stash it away to pass out at Halloween. Buy after-Christmas candies and save them to fill bountiful Easter baskets.

Don’t go grocery shopping when you’re hungry and always make a list and stick with it. Pay attention to unit pricing, and don’t ever assume that just because something comes in a larger package, it’s a better bargain. Don’t buy anything but groceries at the grocery store. For toiletries and paper goods, visit a Walgreens or other pharmacy.

Follow these savvy tips, and you could start tucking away a little money each week. Before you know it, you might have enough for a great weekend away or other frivolous purchase.

A person holding a sign

Disclosure: This is a featured post from Charlotte Hicks. Charlotte Hicks is on a mission to save as much money as she can this year. She’s sharing some of the ways she saves money whether she’s at the supermarket or planning a special day out with the kids.

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