These days it seems like everyone is tightening their financial belts. It’s getting tougher and tougher to buy a home or upgrade the car, and day-to-day expenses like groceries are always getting more expensive.
Grocery stores play a pretty big role in this. As a business, they naturally want you to buy as much as possible from them. They have a few sneaky tactics to encourage unnecessary purchases. Combined with rising prices, this can make grocery shopping a very expensive affair, which can leave a large dent in your bank account.
At the end of the day, you are the only one who can control how you spend your money. A good place to start is the grocery store. We’ve done the research and compiled a list of the 15 best ways to save money on groceries, and here they are:
1. Use a basket.
Grocery stores rely on a lot of psychological tricks to get you to spend more money. One of these nifty tricks is shopping cart size. Over the years, they’ve gotten bigger – even though families have gotten smaller. Research indicates that shoppers are inclined to try and fill their shopping cart. So for the grocery stores, it makes a whole lot of sense to make the carts bigger. You can get around this trick by just using a basket, or making an effort to never fill the shopping cart.
2. Step up your comparison game.
A lot of us this we do a great job with comparison shopping. However, a large number of people don’t actually compare the cost of their entire receipt of purchases. Bread, milk, eggs and bananas are the most common items shoppers compare prices on. They’ll often extrapolate those differences out to the entire store’s inventory, but too often that simply isn’t true. Shop around for every single item you and your family purchase – you might be surprised at some of the bargains you’re missing out on.
3. Tread your own path.
Another trick that grocery stores have learned from psychological research is to direct flow through the store. The vast majority of stores place produce near the entrance, where shoppers will walk into an environment of fresh, brightly colored vegetables. This can put shoppers in a better mood, and make them more likely to overspend.
To get around it, start shopping in the middle of the store, surrounded by boring cans and bags of goods.
4. You can always change your mind.
Checkout lanes are narrow for a reason, and it’s not so they can fit more in (face it, they are never all in use at the same time). Narrow checkout lanes make customers less inclined to change their minds about purchases and return goods. Once you’re funneled into the checkout area, it can be difficult to turn around and take something back.
5. Play to your own beat.
Many grocery stores rely on music to get shoppers in the mood for spending money. Unlike a retail clothing outlet however, grocery stores play slower music to encourage people to spend more time working their way through the shelves. This can increase individual spend by up to 29%!
6. Compare in store.
Many stores will sell the same products they have available at the deli at a lower price elsewhere. So check out the dairy case before you go dropping a load of cash on cheese from the deli – the same stuff might be cheaper just a few steps away.
7. Don’t be afraid to ask!
Plenty of stores will throw in something complementary as a thank you for your business, or simply to make your experience a little better. Want some extra marinade on some meat, a steak tenderized or some greenery with your flowers? Just ask! If you’re very friendly (and happen to be there at the right time), you can sometimes end up with some free produce. Many bakeries throw out their pies and cream buns at the end of the day, and might be happy to pass them onto a friend.
Some grocery stores will let you purchase items in advance. One of the most common examples is bakery items. If you know that you’re going to need baked goods in a month or so, keep an eye out for special offers. You can buy it at the lower price and simply pick it up when you need it.
9. Expired Items.
Keep an eye out for meat items that are close to expiry. Many stores will mark prices down if you can make a good argument that the meat doesn’t have much time left in it. Meat is a huge expense for many people, so it’s worth being vigilant and picking it up cheaply whenever possible.
10. Be vigilant!
An item on sale isn’t always guaranteed to be a great bargain. Double check all the conditions on what you’re buying, and make sure that you’re actually getting a good deal. Make sure you check prices per kilogram or per item.
11. Bulk buying.
This one can work both ways. Sometimes, buying in bulk through a grocery store isn’t necessarily cheaper than buying items on sale – especially if an offer is applied to individual items only. Do the math, and don’t always assume that a bulk buy is a bargain. It’s also important to consider whether you can actually use everything you’re bulk buying.
12. Be cynical.
Those displays at the ends of the aisles aren’t a generous gesture by the grocery store to help you find great deals. Often, major brands and distributors will pay the grocery store to promote their product in special displays. This is the case for a large number of products at the end of aisles.
13. Go frozen!
Seafood is another pricey aspect of any shopping trip. You can almost always save a little on seafood by avoiding the fresh stuff. Buy it frozen and thaw it out yourself at home.
14. Be smart.
You can get many great cuts of meat in a single large cut. Buy it large and kindly ask the butcher if they’ll cut it down into the relevant cuts for you. You can save up to 30% this way.
15. Shop online.
Many grocery stores are making a major push to shift their client base online. While you might not have access to some of the great bargains in store, there are still opportunities to save some money here. Look out for stores doing free delivery, or offering certain items in bulk.
There you have it, our top 15 ways to save money on groceries! Everyone has a different strategy that works for them, and at the end of the day, all that matters is that you keep more of your money in your wallet.