As prices continue to rise for food and other essential items, it’s becoming increasingly important for people to take steps to save money on groceries.
Popular strategies include clipping coupons, planning out a shopping list, and opting for generic products over name-brand items.
However, there are additional methods that can be used to help maximize the budget.
From comparing prices at different stores to taking advantage of rebates and rewards programs, there are many ways to save money on groceries while still getting exactly what is needed.
Taking the time to research sales, use coupons strategically or buy in bulk when possible can make a big difference in how much is spent at the checkout line each week.
Additionally, using cash instead of credit cards or setting a limit on spending before entering a store can help keep impulse purchases in check and prevent unnecessary expenses.
What’s Causing The High Grocery Prices?
The rising cost of food is an issue afflicting households worldwide, with the US Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service (USDA ERS) noting that food-at-home prices have increased by 7.1% from April 2022 to April 2023.
This is in addition to an 11% hike in retail food prices from 2021 to 2022, as reported by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), marking the largest spike in four decades. Inflation is a contributing factor, but other causes are at play too.
The tight labor market has caused labor and production costs to rise, which consumers must cover through higher prices.
The avian flu outbreak in late 2022 into 2023 adversely impacted egg and poultry production – USDA data shows that December 2022 had the highest ever recorded egg prices, averaging around $5 per dozen – a 200% increase compared to 2021 costs.
Further, Ukraine’s disruption of wheat exports (9%), corn exports (12%), and barley exports (17%) has resulted in reduced global grain supplies; combined with droughts impacting US grain stores this could further affect the price of bread and cereal products.
Wildfires and droughts have also taken their toll on crops across many states, particularly California where extreme weather has delayed planting times thus raising fears for produce shortages.
How To Save Money On Groceries
Shopping smarter is one of the easiest and most effective ways to make your food budget go further. By taking the time to plan ahead, compare prices between stores, buy in bulk when possible, and use coupons and loyalty programs, you can significantly reduce your grocery bills.
Additionally, looking for store-brand items can often save you money without sacrificing quality. Making use of seasonal produce can also help lower costs while providing a variety of fresh ingredients. By taking these steps, you can have healthier meals at a fraction of the price!
1. Cook At Home
Cooking your own meals at home is an ideal way to save money on groceries as well as to guarantee the quality of the food you’re eating.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, prices for food at restaurants rose by 0.4% between March and April 2023, while prices for food purchased at home fell by 0.2% during this same time period.
When dining out, there’s no way of knowing what went into preparing your meal, whereas when making meals from home, you get to select the ingredients yourself and have complete control over their quality and quantity.
Moreover, cooking from home gives you the opportunity to create tasty dishes without having to worry about high costs or sacrificing flavor.
2. Develop A Meal Plan
Creating weekly meal plans and grocery lists can help save time and money. To get started, look for ingredients that are on sale or within your budget.
Instead of making a single dish to eat all week, consider buying two pounds of chicken, which can be cooked in multiple ways.
Try out grilling or barbecuing one night for the classic flavors of summer, then use some of the leftovers to make tacos or a slow-cooker meal during busier days.
Use condiments and spices to add variety and make sure you don’t fall into a food rut.
For even more diverse options, try adding chicken to salads, stir-fries, casseroles, and other dishes throughout the week. With a little bit of planning and creativity, you can have delicious meals on the table with minimal effort!
3. Use What You Already Have To Save Money On Groceries.
Stocking up on non-perishables when there is a sale is a great way to save money and reduce food waste.
Frozen fruits, vegetables, and meats are especially good for stocking up, as they will keep longer in the freezer.
Canned goods are also an ideal pantry staple that can make quick and nutritious meals with some seasoning and sauces added.
When planning your meals for the week, start with what you have in your stocked pantry first to make sure you’re using it before it goes bad.
This will save you money on groceries and ensure none of your food goes to waste.
You can supplement what’s already in your pantry with weekly grocery trips so that you always have tasty meals one step away.
4. Examine The Cost Per Unit.
Shopping for groceries can be a tricky process, especially when it comes to choosing the right item for the best value.
To make sure you’re getting the best deal, it’s important to look at the unit price instead of just the retail price posted on shelf stickers.
Unit prices are usually printed in smaller font next to the retail price and are important in comparing costs across different sizes and brands.
This could help you save money, as you may find one brand that offers more for less.
Additionally, retailers tend to place pricier items at eye level, so searching around is key to finding the best deal.
By taking these extra steps while in the grocery store aisles, you can save money and get more bang for your buck!
5. Utilize Cashback Offers Or Loyalty Incentives.
Utilizing loyalty cards or points programs from your favorite stores can be a great way to maximize your food budget.
By redeeming these points for future orders at the store or gas pump, you can help offset rising costs.
Additionally, many credit cards offer cash-back rewards for groceries, gas, and other household items.
These offers usually range from 1% to 6%, and may even have an introductory bonus that further adds to the savings.
To make sure you are getting the most out of these rewards, be sure to choose a card with no annual fee, a low-interest rate, and an amount of cashback that is enjoyable.
It is also important to ensure that you are paying off the balance monthly in order to avoid having any additional interest fees added on.
6. Use A Rebate App.
Using rebate apps like Fetch and Ibotta can be an effective way to save even more on your purchases, both in-store and online.
They are compatible with many popular retailers such as Target, Walmart, CVS, and Costco.
After selecting the desired store and adding offers on products to their list, users can simply take a picture of their receipt in order to receive cash back or points toward gift cards.
It is also possible to link store loyalty information for additional savings opportunities.
By utilizing rebate apps, customers can significantly reduce their spending while taking advantage of special deals that would otherwise be unavailable.
7. Consider Becoming A Member Of A Bulk-Buying Club To Cut Down On Grocery Costs.
Shopping at a wholesale club like Costco can be a great way to save money and stock up on items for large families.
With membership fees being typically affordable, you can quickly make up for the cost with the discounted prices of bulk items.
Furthermore, these items can easily be split among extended family or friends, helping everyone save on their groceries.
Additionally, since these clubs often offer an array of non-perishable goods that have longer expiration dates than other retail stores, you can store them away in your home and use them before they expire.
All of this taken into account, it is important to remember that upfront costs may be higher but the savings are worth it – so be sure to keep this in mind when budgeting and preparing for your next shopping trip.
Grocery prices may be beginning to lower, but it could be some time before the average consumer sees any real relief.
To get more bang for your buck, use a combination of store sales, cashback offers, and rebate apps when purchasing groceries.
This will help you purchase what you need without having to go over budget. Additionally, many stores offer loyalty programs that can provide discounts on certain items.
Taking advantage of these various opportunities can result in substantial savings over the course of time.