The supermarket aisles are full of temptation and just when you think you’ve made it out on budget you get stuck in the checkout line surrounded by candy, gum, and magazines. This can be stressful and not to mention expensive. Previously, Julia shared tips to lower your grocery bill. Mine are below.
Shop alone – Having little helpers can leave you with extra items in your cart. Don’t have kids? You can still ring up a hefty bill by purchasing impulse buys like gum and magazines. As you wait in line, leaf through your favorite tabloid or magazine and put it back – you can checkout magazines for free from the library.
Generic brands – When it comes time to choose between the store brand and a well-known brand, chose the no-name. Store brands tend to be less expensive and many times are manufactured in the same facilities as brand names.
Unit price – Sometimes buying the family size may seems like the best buy because of the large quantity of food. But pay attention to unit prices and do the math to save lots. Look for a unit price tucked in the corner of the price tag in a small font as opposed to the displayed price in a big font. The unit price tells you the cost per pound, quart, or other unit of weight or volume of a package. Carry a calculator with you to spend less or use the one built into your smart phone.
Here’s an example:
Which milk would you buy?
• 2 liters of milk at $3.80
• 1.5 liters of milk at $2.70
In this case the unit is 1 liter and the unit prices are:
• $3.80 / 2 liters = $1.90 per liter
• $2.70 / 1.5 liters = $1.80 per liter
So the lowest unit price and best bargain is 1.5 liters at $2.70.
Bring your own bag (BYOB) – Whole Foods is not the only store that gives customers a couple cents back for BYOB. Ralphs grocery rewards program gives points for every bag you bring. Trader Joe’s has a weekly raffle to win a $25 store gift card for those who bring their own bags. Check with your local store to see what they offer.
Stick to groceries – Avoid buying non-grocery items at the grocery store. Toothpaste, mouthwash and painkillers can be found in pharmacies at a lower cost. The exception is when you coupon match.
Bulk shopping – Nonperishable items like laundry detergent and bathroom tissue can be purchased at membership clubs for less. Warehouse clubs send members coupons for extra savings. The trick is to get what you need and walk out before you become mesmerized and end up wasting money on impulse buys.
Avoid convenience items – Like toiletries, when you purchase cut up onions or peeled garlic, you are paying for the commodity. Instead, buy the items and cut them up yourself.
Loyalty and rewards cards – You do not have to be loyal to a store to sign up for their free rewards cards. Shopping around for deals before you head to the store will help you make an informed decision. Read the weekly flyers from your local grocery stores to compare prices.
Ethnic stores – If you have never set a foot in an ethnic grocery store you are missing out. Staple items like oil and flour can be found for up to half the price. Produce prices are often significantly cheaper.