One of the biggest, and most regular costs that many of us have is the weekly trip to the grocery store. The cost of food always seems to be rising, and it's not something that you can just cut from your budget.
The good news, though, is that while you can't eliminate your grocery bill, you can significantly reduce it. As long as you have a little time and are willing to do a little planning, you can save money at the grocery store every time you go.
Know When to Shop
One of the best things you can do for your grocery budget is to know when to shop. Don't shop when you are hungry. You are more likely to buy more than you need and to make impulse buys that aren't on your list. Do your shopping after you've eaten, when you feel relatively good and have better judgment.
It can also help to choose to shop during times of the day when you know there will be fewer people at the store. When you feel pressured, rushed, and stressed, you are far more likely to make poor decisions and grab items you don't need (and may not even want), and that increases your grocery bill.
Plan With an Annotated List
Create an annotated shopping list. Your shopping list should revolve around your meal plan. One of the best things you can do is create a meal plan based on what's on sale. Look at flyers in your newspaper and consider coupons. See what you can get a discount on, and then plan your meals around ingredients that will be on sale or that you can use coupons for.
You can make the process even easier when you use a coupon app. An app like Favado can help you identify and organize coupons and money-saving promotions in a way that makes it easy to get good deals when you go shopping.
Your annotated shopping list doesn't need to be fancy, but it can help to make a few notes. Then, when you go shopping, be sure to stick with your list. Don't get extra items, and be careful to avoid "bargains" on items that you aren't planning to buy anyway. Just because it's on sale doesn't mean that you should buy it. Keep that in mind and stick to your list, and you'll be able to keep your grocery budget under control.
Don't Buy at the Grocery Store
It's also possible to save money at the grocery store by getting your food elsewhere. Look online to purchase non-perishable staples. You might be able to get a discount on them, and they are delivered right to your door.
Another possibility is to do your shopping at farmers markets or to join a local produce co-op. In many cases, it's possible to get locally-sourced, seasonal items for less than going to the store. Sign up for these items and then only buy what you can't get through these alternatives at the store.
Finally, you can save by growing your own food. Grow some of the produce that you use most, and you can save because you won't have to go to the grocery store. If you have extra, you can bottle or freeze it for use during winter months. Growing your own food can help you supplement your diet and reduce the amount that you need to buy at the grocery store.
With a little thought, planning, and effort, it should be possible for you to save money at the grocery store, and still enjoy good, healthy food.
Tom Drake is a financial analyst for a major grocery store chain in Canada as well as the writer behind Canadian Finance Blog. For more tips to cut your expenses and reduce your bills, join his free newsletter.