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Grocery shopping on a leaner budget is never easy – and it doesn't help that grocery stores and products are very good at making people spend more than they intended. But with a few tricks up your sleeve, you can ward off the random purchases and really save some cash.
Below are a few ideas to get you started.
Don’t Just Cut Coupons - Organize Them
With Americans spending an average of 15 percent of their income on groceries and increased food prices, coupons are more important than ever. Instead of cutting coupons and stuffing them in a drawer, try using a coupon organizer. If you separate coupons into categories (baking goods, paper product, produce, dairy, meats, cleaning supplies, etc.), you increase your likelihood of using them. Organizing coupons by date is also helpful. Place those that need to be used first on top so you know to plan your meals on those items. Also, compare store prices. Just because one grocery store has eggs on sale doesn’t mean they are necessarily cheaper than the store down the street.
Plan your Menu
Don't know what to cook for dinner this week? Select your menu based on what you have in your pantry and what you have coupons for. So, don’t buy chicken if the salmon is on sale. Planning ahead with your coupons can save you big bucks.
Purchase Produce that is in Season
If it's peach season, buy peaches. In-season produce is usually on sale and fresher. So why buy strawberries if they are not top quality? Also, shop your local farmers' market; the produce is significantly cheaper.
Ditch the Basket or Cart
If you are running to the store to get milk, avoid getting a basket or cart. These induce people to buy more and grab items they do not necessarily need. If you are limited to what you can carry, you are more likely to buy only what you need.
Buy Store Brands
Don't be deceived by name brands and labels. Most of the time, store brands are of the same or similar quality as the "real deal." You are often just paying the extra price of advertising and packaging for the name brands.
Shop the Perimeter of the Store
This is where the fresh food is located. Not only is it healthier than packaged, processed food, it's often cheaper.
Make a List and Stick to It
After you plan your meals for the week, make a grocery list. Divide the list into sections based on the layout of the grocery store. You can get in and get out of the store with just what you need and more money in your pocket. By writing down exactly what you need, you are reducing your likelihood to purchase unnecessary items.
Look High and Low
Most grocery stores place the worst deal at eye level to get your attention. Don’t be fooled by their strategy; shop the lower shelves for discounts and the higher shelves for store brands.
Stick to Groceries
Avoid buying toiletries at the grocery store. Instead, check at a pharmacy or drug store like CVS or Walgreens, where they are typically sold for less.
Check your Receipt
After checking out, review your receipt to make sure all items were properly discounted, coupons were entered correctly and nothing was scanned multiple times.