In today’s hard-luck economy, everyone wants to the know the best ways to save at the supermarket. You can cut back on a lot of excessive spending to feed the piggy bank, but the supermarket can prove difficult when it comes to following a budget. Food is a necessity and can be a costly one at that. But there are better ways to save at the supermarket than just eating just ramen noodles every night. With these 7 cost-saving ideas, you’ll spend less at the market and your stomach won’t suffer for it.
1. Assess the Food Situation at Home
Take inventory of the pantry, the snack cabinet, the refrigerator and all of the supplies for bath and body. One of the best ways to save at the supermarket is to avoid excess spending on items you don’t need. Just because salsa is on sale, you don’t need to buy any if you already have two jars in the cupboard. Taking note of what you have and what you need is the definitive first step to saving money when food shopping.
2. Compare Prices Elsewhere
A lot of supermarket shoppers are loyal to a specific store. But if an abundance of what you need to purchase is cheaper elsewhere, perhaps this is the week to give the competition a try. Some shoppers even prefer to buy some of what they need at one store and some at another to maximize supermarket savings. This is an excellent tip, but only if the gas money and travel time don’t negate the difference in supermarket prices. But if you’re willing to sacrifice convenience for savings, I’m all for the idea!
3. Clip Those Coupons
You don’t have to use all of your free time to fill binders of coupons for your shopping trips. But clipping coupons on items you need only takes a few minutes of your time and can save you hundreds of dollars each year. While the Sunday newspaper boasts an entire section for manufacturer coupons, there are also websites dedicated to saving you some money at the market. And combining sale items with coupons can mean serious savings. Get those scissors ready, ladies!
4. Plan Meals for the Week
After scanning the weekly sale ads for the meats, vegetables and pasta that are on sale at your local supermarket, a helpful money-saving tip is to plan meals ahead for the week. If ground turkey is on sale and ground beef isn’t this week, maybe Monday night is a good time for turkey burgers. It’s also a good time to visualize how you can make your foods do double-duty. If prepackaged green peppers are on sale but you’re not sure you can use them all before they spoil, assemble a few recipes that call for green peppers. Maybe you could try stuffed peppers one night and pepper steak on another. Spoiled food is a terrible waste, and another burden on your wallet at the market. Planning meals ahead as best as you can will avoid wasted food and wasted money.
5. Don’t Shop on an Empty Stomach
Going to the supermarket while ravenously hungry is setting the stage for a spending disaster. One minute you’re stocking up on all of the week’s necessities, the next minute you’re adding stacks of items to the cart that simply "look good." While everyone deserves a little extra treat now and again, food shopping on an empty stomach will really hurt when it comes time to pay up at the checkout counter. Try shopping after a satisfying meal and you’ll be less likely to add all of those little extras to the cart.
6. Avoid the Aisles You Don’t Need
If you’re familiar with the layout of the supermarket and know you don’t need any cosmetics or hair products that particular week, simply bypass those aisles altogether. It can be hard to resist the allure of new products or a well-stocked supply of your favorite brands. But avoiding those troublesome aisles can mean the difference between saving and splurging at the supermarket.
7. Check Those Receipts
From technological glitches to human error, getting overcharged at the supermarket is quite possible. If you feel an item scanned at the wrong price, politely take your concerns to a customer service representative. Worst case scenario: you’re mistaken about the price. But if you happen to be correct, you’re owed some money. Some supermarkets also operate with a price-accuracy guarantee, which means if an item scans the wrong price, you get that item free of charge. Checking receipts only takes a few seconds of your time can save you some of your hard-earned dollars.
Here’s some food for thought: Saving at the supermarket really comes down to strategizing and sales. Going in to the supermarket without an idea of what you need, what you’re willing to spend or what items are on sale is going to cost you. But if you plan meals ahead of time using the combination of coupons and sale items, you’ll have a guaranteed recipe for supermarket success. What cost-savvy ways do you use to save at the supermarket?