If you have ever needed to go grocery shopping on a budget (and who hasn’t?), then this post is for you. I wanted to give you several tips to help you meet your shopping budget, as food expenses can get out of control. Even if you are meeting your current grocery budget, there is always room for improvement. Trust me, with escalating gas prices and high inflation rates imminent, food is going to become more and more expensive. But let’s get into some of these money saving tips:
- Never go grocery shopping on an empty stomach.
This may be the important tip to controlling the budget. If you are hungry, you will almost always compromise and spend more in the grocery store than you originally intended. Especially if there are free sample stations, etc as you will get a taste of something (and food always tastes better when you are hungry) and will be a lot more likely to buy it than if you had just finished a meal.
- Go in with an absolute top number.
This is key to any budget. You must begin shopping with knowing where your spending limit is. So take your monthly budget number for groceries, and then divide by how many times a month you will be going to the grocery store. That is your number for each grocery store visit. This may sound simple, but I promise if you will stick to it, you will meet your grocery shopping budget.
- Stick to off-brands.
Using the store brand or some off name brand is sure to be cheaper than the name brand. It may only be a few cents cheaper, but a few cents on many items can add up quick. But don’t totally deprive yourself. For example, my wife and I buy almost entirely off brand stuff, but when it comes to chips and ice cream, I get Ruffles or Lay’s Stacks, and Blue Bell ice cream. You have to have a couple of items that are what you really want.
- Limit the number of trips you take to the grocery store.
This is also a simple, but tough point. The more times you go to the grocery store, the more money you spend. It never fails. If you can limit your trips to the store to maybe twice a month, you will spend less is groceries. If you don’t believe me, try it, and leave your comments below.
- Leave the kids at home.
The simplest way to prevent giving in to your kids at the grocery store is simply not to take them. It may be hard, but trust me, you will spend less and they will eat healthier if you make the grocery decisions for them.
- If you are near an HEB, take advantage of their “Fresh or Free” program.
This one is my favorite. We live in Texas, and their is a grocery chain called HEB. This grocery store guarantees perishable items to be in date. So if you find out of dates items, they will give you an identical in date item, absolutely free. This isn’t a joke, we get many, many free groceries this way. The only exception is on items sold by the pound, like meat, where this just give you one pound for free. Check out my Groceries for Free post for more details on this program.
Most of these tips are psychological tips (except for the last one, it is my favorite, so I had to throw it in), as I wanted to put you in the money saving mentality. Coupons, sales etc. are good to save money on the short term, but if you don’t learn how to control your spending, in the long run, you will tend to exceed your budget.