Anyone else looking forward to payday a little more than normal? For most of us, money is tight- or at the very least, on your mind when making a purchase.
If you're like me, you flinch a little at the total as you check your bank account before deciding credit or debit.
There are two places people are overspending these days. The gas pump and the grocery store. The gas pump hurts but on the bright side many people have been able to work from home or cut back on going out... the thing about the grocery store is you always have to eat.
So is it actually possible to get your grocery bill back down without buying less food? YES! You CAN be a conscious spender when at the grocery store. Here are a couple of grocery hacks I use to keep from overspending each week.
1. Reverse shopping list:
Typically your shopping list is going to consist of the items you DO need. A reverse list is a little different. (Don't worry- not asking you to memorize your list!)
How often do you come back with a big box of something you had a brand new one of already in the pantry? The extra rice, beans, flour, condiments and perishables really add up in price. Lots of the time the extras will end up even being thrown away!
At the top of your reverse list, you're going to write the things you definitely DON'T need. Put a box around them and I like to write them in a different color so it's all clearly separate from my list of things I do need. Below your items to not buy, toss on your things you do want to buy and how much of that item. This will keep your shopping efficient and your cabinets less cluttered.
2. Skip the pre-packaged meal sections
This is a hard idea for some people to get behind. Skip the pre-packaged sections of the grocery store. That's the frozen snackies, the pudding snack cups, Littles Debbies, protein bars and so much more. In fact, a good portion of the grocery store tends to fall under this category.
You can find quick, cost effective recipes that don't take a lot of time to make to replace a lot of these items! Breakfast bars, snack cups, salsas and more can all be made from your produce section!
Realistically you won't avoid it entirely but cutting back even by half will greatly lower your costs over a month.
3. Meal plan based on the seasonal veggies:
There is another way to lower that grocery bill with just a little bit of strategy.... Get in tune with mother nature. Figuring out which fruits and vegetables are in season and meal plan accordingly will save you dollars at the register.
When produce is not in season you'll see that price hike up (not enough supply/low quality/has to be imported etc.) Many think winter means produce isn't in season- but that's not true! Lettuce, carrots, beets and more are all great for the winter months.
Check out this chart from the LSU Agriculture Department to see which produce is in season and when: P3265A_SeasonalityChartPDFNew_RCH218CMostenbockerpdf (1)
4. Plan your shopping according to the specials
Ask YOUR grocer when they mark things down to "managers special." If they aren't able to tell you that, ask what days they get shipment. The next day a lot of the "old" stuff will get marked down. Just make sure it's an ingredient you intend to use in a day or two so you don't end up throwing it away!
And sometimes, there's just going to be times the cost is unavoidable. When you need some spices or to reup on flours and oils- it adds up quick!
5. Loyalty programs
Shop somewhere with a loyalty program and actually sign up for it. USE THE COUPONS! Places like Sprouts and Kroger even have apps where you can "clip" the coupons you want and just get it all scanned at the register from your phone.
On top of coupons, you can also find other perks. Like with Kroger/Fry's you get fuel points to fill up your gas tank with a discount. Make sure you read up on the full benefits of your favorite stores loyalty program.
Times are tough. It would be cruel to not share the ways I've been saving money. Some of it takes some effort but if you're truly penny pinching, it is well worth memorizing what vegetables are in season and what days my store has sales.
Keep hacking life and finding ways to spend less while experiencing more. Good luck out there.