According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, food prices increased by 9.9% in 2022 and are expected to grow another 7.1% in 2023.
When it comes to grocery shopping, customer loyalty cards can help a bit with prices, as can paying with a credit card that offers cash back or other rewards. But there’s just not much that individual consumers can do about inflation. Things get even tougher for those on fixed incomes.
Still there are a few tricks for reducing your costs at the grocery. They won’t erase inflation, but these smarter shopping tips can reduce your total significantly.
Don’t buy what you don’t need
The easiest way to save money at the grocery is not buying things you don’t need.
The American Journal of Agricultural Economics reportsthat the average household throws away about 30% of the food they buy. Not buying that food in the first place could reduce your costs by hundreds of dollars a month.
Make sure you have a list when you go grocery shopping and don’t buy anything not on your list. Pay attention to which foods don’t get used and cut them from your shopping list. And, of course, never go grocery shopping when you’re hungry — you’ll end up buying all sorts of things you didn’t need.
Think about how you’ll be using the food you buy. You don’t have to be a dedicated meal planner (though that’s a great way to save too), but you what you’re buying and why.
For example, if you buy lots of fruit, but mostly use it to make smoothies, consider buying frozen rather than fresh fruit. Not only will you save money, but your smoothie supplies will last much longer.
Consider how much actually need when buying perishables. Buy larger packages of vegetables may technically save you money on a per-unit basis, but you’re not really saving money if you buy twice what you need and end up throwing the rest out.
Buy in bulk when it makes sense
Buying nonperishable goods in bulk can save a lot of money (and shopping time), but only if the item is long-lasting and you’re sure your family will use the item.
Household supplies like paper towels and toilet paper are obvious items to buy in bulk, assuming you have a place to store them. Grains, cereals and canned goods are strong contenders too.
Consider investing in a freezer vacuum bag system from FoodSaver or Amazon so you can take advantage of sales on meat and other freezable items.
Items that are precut, pre-seasoned or precooked can be great time savers, but the costs are almost always a lot higher than similar unprepared items.
Prepared foods aren’t just bad for your wallet; they’re often packed with lots of extra sugar and sodium. If there’s a prepared item you really like, look for a recipe that replicates the flavor, but without all the salt and preservatives.
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