Tips for Keeping Grocery Expense Under Control
How many times have you checked out at the grocery store and were surprised by the total? Probably a lot these days with inflation at an all-time high. In general, it’s easy to let your grocery bill get too big if you’re not careful. Even though food prices have gone up significantly, and we’re making more meals at home now than eating out, there are ways to keep that expense under control.
- Figure out how much you can reasonably spend on food. Financial advisors suggest spending no more than 10% of your income after taxes on food. That includes the supermarket as well as restaurants. If you want actual figures worked out for you, check out cost recommendations from the USDA’s website for food plans based on averages for four levels: thrifty, low-cost, moderate, and liberal plans.
- Make a shopping list. There are many grocery shopping apps available. Find one that fits your needs. These help you create digital shopping lists, including some offering digital coupons. If you prefer a non-digital approach, jot down your list on paper and post it somewhere in your kitchen, where it’s easy to add items as needed. Regardless of the method of list-making, stick to that list and try to avoid impulse buying.
- Use reward programs. The store will likely have a store reward program if you use a major retailer. Make sure you sign up for it to get store discounts and coupons. The store may even have its own shopping app.
- Consider ordering online. It saves you a trip inside a store and keeps a running total of your expenses before you check out. If you go over your shopping limit, you simply take items off your list to bring down your total or switch them for a more cost-effective item. Ordering online can also significantly reduce impulse buying.
- Buy only what you need. Avoid buying anything only because you have a coupon or the store offers a bulk discount. A “buy one get one 50% off” offer will become wasted food and money if you can't eat two bags of salad greens in a week.
Keeping your food expenses under control is manageable with some planning. Digital tools and helpful tips on how to reduce your grocery bill without giving up your favorite foods can help. The hardest part will be controlling your impulse to reach for a sweet treat before checking out - for that, you’re on your own.