Whatever your motivation, shaving money off your grocery bill is one super easy way to put more money in the bank. Plus, it comes with an awesome side perk: weight loss. Shed pounds and fatten your wallet with these six smart-saver tips.
1. Plan Ahead to Get Ahead
Every food and finance pro we spoke to said that meal planning and shopping lists are key to preventing impulse buys that jack up your bill. Our first thought: Duh. Our second: Um, we should probably stop being lazy and try it. Terry Conlan, former chef at Lake Austin Spa Resort in Texas, had a tip for making planning a breeze: Determine how many dinners you’ll have at home that week, write down a lean protein (fish, chicken) and veggie side (salad, steamed broccoli) for each meal, and then add any ingredients for specific recipes, like soy sauce and bamboo shoots, if you’re turning Monday night’s chicken into a stir-fry.
2. Seek Out Sales
A store’s sale items, not your stomach, should dictate which items you toss into your cart, says Gregory Karp, author of The 1-2-3 Money Plan. Take a quick look at the store’s website before heading over, then make a beeline for the items you want. Otherwise, grab a copy of the circular on your way in—and stride right past distracting temptations.
3. Stockpile Staples
Karp recommended that when you spot a good discount on canned goods or anything freezable, such as soup, pasta sauce or meat, to get two or three of the items and store the extras. At first, this strategy might seem backward—it sends your bill in the wrong direction! But sometimes you have to spend money to save money. For instance, say one week frozen vegetables are on sale for $1.25 each, which at your store is a savings of $1.14 per bag. If you buy six bags instead of one, you’re shelling out more cash up front, but you’ll save 50 percent over the following month and a half.
4. Divide Your Food Dollars
When our grocery gurus suggested schlepping to a separate produce market to buy fruit and veggies, we thought it would be a total time-suck. But for at least one of our editors, that trek was worth it. On her first visit to her local produce market, broccoli was $1.29 a pound versus $1.99 at the chain supermarket. Avocados were $1.98 each rather than $2.49. Her basket of produce and other odds and ends rang up to around $35, a savings of almost $16. Ka-ching!
5. Shop Solo
If your kids are begging for cereal or antsy to get out of the store, you tend to make more impulse purchases, says Robin Miller, chef and author of Robin Takes 5. That can hurt you at the cash register and on the scale. Don’t have kids? An antsy partner can cause you to spend more, too. If his goal is to get in and out of the store as fast as possible, you don’t have time to comparison-shop and may end up leaving with impulse buys, like ice cream or cookies. Or both. Instead, shop by yourself while he does laundry or walks the dog.
6. If You Forgot It, Forget It
Every time you run into the store for something you left off your list—say, a green pepper—you can run out with an empty wallet. On your way to pick up that green pepper, you’ll likely spy other items, like a new flavor of hummus, that you hadn’t planned on buying but suddenly can’t imagine leaving without. If you forgot something on your weekly trip, make do by subbing what you have on hand for the missing ingredient.
Now that you know what to save on, find out which supermarket staples are worth shelling out for at Self.com.
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(Yahoo Health)- Provided by SELF