Unfortunately, the cost of groceries, one of the essential expenses faced by all families, has increased during the last five years. Quality fruits, vegetables and milk are now more expensive. As farming and transportation costs have skyrocketed, those increased costs have been passed on to consumers. Savvy shoppers can lower grocery bills by following these few simple tips.
1. Buy Store Brands
The first way to save on grocery store bills is to substitute store brand items for national brand items. In many cases, the same manufacturing company that processes and packages food for a national brand will also package store brand items. The national brand canned green beans with the attractive label must pass the same food safety requirements as the grocery store canned green beans with the simple label. In some cases, opting for the store brand may cut the cost of item by 50%!
2. Clip and Save Coupons
Choosing national brands can also be less expensive by clipping coupons. Many Sunday papers in large cities offer coupon inserts with hundreds of dollars of savings on a variety of items, ranging from cereal to cleaning supplies, and more. Set aside an hour or two on a weekend afternoon to peruse the inserts and save the coupons for the items that are common for the household. A smart shopper can save even more by using the coupons at stores that double the value one day a week or in combination with in-store sales. In addition to the paper coupon inserts, consider looking for online coupons, or even buying small lots of coupons on eBay! With just a few hours a week of organising coupons, shoppers may save hundreds of dollars a year on grocery bills.
3. Shop at Warehouse Stores
Overhead expenses in traditional grocery stores are often compounded by the costs of high-end shelves, decorative display cases and eye-catching marketing. Those costs are passed on to the customers as higher prices. Warehouse clubs and grocery stores such as Aldi spend less money on presentation and in-store marketing, which translates to lower costs for the same items. In addition, warehouse stores often offer significant discounts for bulk purchases. Smart shoppers can buy commonly used items in bulk, often saving significantly over buying individual items at traditional grocery stores. Buying in bulk takes more planning and more upfront costs, but the long run, can mean huge savings.
4. Buy In Season
The further an item has to travel before arriving on the shelf, the more expensive it will be. Fruits and vegetables purchased in season locally will almost always be less expensive than out of season items. While many families want a full variety of fruits and vegetables throughout the year, trying to buy in season produce can significantly lower grocery bills.
5. Buy from Farmer’s Markets and Farm Stands
Produce is almost always cheaper at a farmer’s market or farm stand. In many small towns, local farmers will gather around the courthouse or other convenient location on the weekend to sell their produce, meat or eggs. Because the transportation and packing costs are so low, this produce is almost always less expensive than at traditional grocery stores. Fresh produce is also usually more nutritious, since it was allowed to ripen naturally for longer; grocery store produce is often picked well before ripe to allow for the time in packing and transportation. Farmer’s markets specialising in organic produce and meat may, in fact, be more expensive than many grocery stores. Some international farmer’s markets may also be more expensive, as many of their items are imported. So it’s important to learn about the mission of the market and the vendors before going.
In a tough economy, many families are struggling to meet household costs. With rising grocery costs, stretching a food budget is even more important. Following just a few simple steps can really help lower grocery bills.
Do you agree that there has been an increase in the cost of groceries has increased? How do you lower your grocery bill?