This is the second part of our “Save Money When Grocery Shopping on a Budget” series.
Reducing your grocery bill can really help you to improve your budget overall. While planning ahead before you go shopping can help to ensure that you don’t overspend at the store, there are also several things you can do once you’re in the supermarket to help keep your costs as low as possible.
Here are some of the most effective tips for lowering your grocery bill once you are inside the store:
1. Avoid the prepared foods
Pre-sliced fruit, rotisserie chickens, and pre-made hamburgers can all save you a great deal of time when you are too busy to prepare food yourself. But these convenience foods have a high markup—as much as 192% to 370% more than the same items that you prep for yourself, according to Consumer Reports’ ShopSmart Magazine.
Instead of paying for someone else to do your prep for you, set aside one day a week to handle food prep. Slice up fruits and vegetables, prep meats, and package up snacks in single-serve containers. This will help ensure that you eat all of the food you bring home without paying the markup for prepared foods.
2. Compare unit prices
It can be tough to figure out the best price among several similar items if they come in different sized containers. That’s why it’s always helpful to look at the unit price rather than the item price to see which offers the better deal. Most grocery stores provide the unit price on their shelf stickers, making it easier to compare the cost of the one-pound bag vs. the 8-ounce (aka, the half-pound) bag.
But even if your store does not offer unit prices, you can easily determine it using the calculator on your phone. Simply divide the price by the number of units, and you’ll know which item offers the best unit price.
3. Buy store brands
Brand loyalty can cost you, especially in the grocery store. The store brands will almost always cost less than the name brand versions, but only differ in packaging. You will not notice a difference in taste when you switch to the store brand.
But don’t forget to compare prices between the store and name brand items. Depending on sales and other factors, you may find that the store brand isn’t cheaper every week. The important thing is to not get caught up in brand loyalty rather than finding the right price.
Doing your own food prep, comparing unit prices, and finding the least expensive brand may all take a little more time than you are used to. But spending that time—both at the grocery store and in the kitchen—will save you money.
Find out more tips on how to save on grocery shopping in the 3nd installment of our “Save Money When Grocery Shopping on a Budget” series: What to Do Elsewhere.
Looking for a loan of up to 100K? This search engine can find it