If you want to save money on your food expenses, you’re better off preparing meals at home rather than dining out. But even if you’re buying most of your food at the grocery store, there’s a good chance you’re still spending more than necessary.
Shopping on the Wrong Day
Cut grocery costs by simply shopping on the right day of the week. “We all get into a routine and often hit up our stores around the same time weekly,” said Tracie Fobes of Penny Pinchin’ Mom. “Make sure that you are shopping at the time when you can be certain to get every deal the store offers.”
For example, Fobes said her local supermarket runs a weekly ad from Wednesday to Tuesday. “Those items are all on sale for seven days,” Fobes said. “They also always offer a shorter sale period during that same time. It almost always encompasses a Friday and Saturday. By shopping on Friday, I am sure to not only have the opportunity to get the current weekly sale prices, but also those short-lived sale prices at the same time.”
Shopping Without a List
Heading to the supermarket without a grocery list is a recipe for overspending. That’s because you’ll likely end up buying things you don’t really need and forgetting things you do need. This will force you to make extra trips to the store, which will cost you time and money.
Shopping Without a Plan
Plan out your meals for the entire week — and check your pantry, fridge and freezer — before you head out to the grocery store so you can avoid making several trips to the supermarket during the week and blowing your budget.
Making Impulse Buys
Another benefit of shopping with a list is that it can help you avoid making impulse buys. “Impulse buying is the biggest mistake,” said Stephanie Nelson of Coupon Mom. “Buying appealing but perhaps full-priced items that you don’t need is the most expensive mistake shoppers make.”
Learn the immediate things you can do to resist an impulse buy. The key is to actually stick to your list. Check items in your cart against your list before you leave the store to make sure you haven’t added too many things you weren’t originally planning to buy.
Shopping For a Recipe
On average, only two out of 10 items in a recipe will be on sale in a given week, said Teri Gault, author of “Shop Smart, Save More.” If your shopping list is based on ingredients you need for a recipe, you’ll end up overpaying for about 80% of what goes in your cart.
“Instead, choose recipes according to what you already have and what’s on sale,” Gault said. So, if chicken is on sale but beef isn’t, opt for chicken recipes. Plan your menu around the biggest pictures on the front page of your supermarket’s weekly sales ad, Gault added.
Photo: Getty Images