7 Tips to Reduce Your Grocery Bill Without Giving Up Your Favorite Foods
According to The Wall Street Journal, food prices are estimated to rise five percent in the first half of 2022, while other sources point to a seven percent increase by the end of the year. This number might be even higher if you consider that many products are also shrinking in size, leaving families with less for more.
One way to combat rising food prices is to overhaul your grocery budget by building a more affordable buying plan.
How We Got Here
Food prices are determined by many factors that are all part of the larger global supply chain. With the pandemic upending pieces of the chain, prices are undergoing a significant spike. Three of those factors include…
- Inflation – The pandemic has caused a significant rise in inflation across global markets, with its highest increase since 1982.
- Labor Shortages – Companies worldwide experienced temporary closers and worker shortages due to illnesses but are now struggling to recruit and maintain employees.
- Transportation Costs – Transportation costs have increased as labor shortages continue, and the higher prices at the pump of causing prices to rise even more.
The increase in costs creates higher expenses for businesses, with a significant portion of that cost passed down to the consumers.
Ways to Save on Grocery Expenses
Regardless of the rising costs, the grocery store is still one place you control your budget more than fixed monthly expenses like your rent, mortgage, internet, or car insurance. It helps to look at grocery shopping through a different lens with tips for saving cash at the checkout line.
1. Buy in Bulk - Wholesale retail stores like Costco and Sam’s Club are great places to buy food in bulk for less money than smaller stores. Your initial investment might feel expensive, but you’re paying less per unit, and the quantity should last longer than the smaller quantities at typical grocery stores. If you don’t want to buy all items in bulk like fresh vegetables or fruit, consider which items would last the longest and give you the most cost savings, like paper towels, canned foods, or frozen foods.
2. Cook Batch Meals and Create Meals to Freeze - Focus on purchasing affordable ingredients for meals you can make a lot of and then freeze portions to reheat and enjoy later. For example, tacos, pancakes, and slow cooker meals keep well in the freezer.
3. Look Into Cash Back Apps - Apps like Ibotta and Fetch give you cashback just from scanning receipts and help you find limited-time deals on certain groceries.
4. Buy In-Season Produce - Research which fruits and vegetables are in the harvest season and plan more meals around them, as they’ll be more affordable.
5. Plan Ahead - Pre-planned meals and grocery lists can help keep your shopping focused on what you need. Next to each item on your list, include an estimated price to know how much you’re spending before getting to the register. It’ll help you develop a shopping list more closely aligned with your shopping budget.
6. Revamp Your Leftover Storage - Leftovers last longer when properly stored. Consider investing in glassware or higher quality storage and lookup which zones in your fridge/freezer are best for particular items.
7. Avoid Impulse Buying and Impulse Buyers - Never go to the grocery store hungry, and stick to a strict list when shopping. Take that a step further by also leaving other impulse buyers at home. Your significant other may not have the same shopping game plan, and their impulse buys can quickly add up at the register.
How to Make a Grocery Budget
As with any commitment to stay within a budget, it’s easy to stray outside the set boundaries and overspend. Here are great ways to make sure your budget is right for you…
- Start With an Overall Budget – You can create a simple budget of your monthly income minus your expenses by using a spreadsheet, word document, or the like. When coming up with a set amount for groceries, make sure it’s realistic and will cover everything from food to toiletries to cleaning supplies.
- Use Budgeting Apps – If you want budgeting you can easily access on the go, consider using an app like Mint or Goodbudget to help keep you on track.
- Find Out What You’re Currently Spending – Mastering a successful grocery budget includes finding out how much you typically spend. First, go through your bank statements for the last two to three months and note how much you’re spending each month. This might be a bit higher now with inflation. Start by aiming to reduce the amount by $5 to $10 at first for each grocery trip, then more each week until you hit a sustainable amount, which should be close to the budget you’ve established. It can be challenging to reduce a grocery bill significantly on the first try, but by reducing your spending little by little, you make positive traction toward meeting and maintaining your spending goals.