Grocery shopping is often stressful, but it can be especially overwhelming when we get to the checkout line and realize we went way over budget on food for the week. The thing is, it’s a supermarket’s job to try to get people to spend more money, so oftentimes we’re wasting cash without even noticing. Below you will find surprising tips that will change the way you shop, and help you save some of those precious dollars in the process.*
1. You wait until you’ve run out of staples to buy more.
None of us have enough space to keep a full-on stockroom of duplicate items in our kitchens. But keep an eye on your favorite staples (olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, etc.) to see when they’re on sale. And then stock up on an extra bottle or two, instead of waiting until you run out, when the items will inevitably be full price.
2. You shop with a credit card or without a budget
It sounds crazy, but having unlimited access to money at the market can be dangerous for your wallet. Create a set budget and don’t go over, or bring that exact amount of cash and leave your credit cards at home so you’re forced to comply with your own rules.
3. You plan your exact meals before you go to the supermarket
Planning out what you’re going to eat for the week and prepping a budget is good, but try to stay flexible when it comes to the specific food items. You never know what’s going to be on special that week, or offered for a lower price because it’s nearing the expiration date. If you head to the store with an idea of what you’re going to make (let’s say burgers), but are flexible with what kind of meat you use and what veggies you’re going to put on top, you’ll end up saving more.
4. You use a shopping cart
If you’re not shopping for a family of four, chances are you don’t actually need to use a full-size shopping cart. Try a good old-fashioned basket, which has a limit of sorts — unlike a grocery cart, which we often weirdly feel compelled to fill up.
5. You shop all the aisles
Grocery stores are fascinating places that are way more strategically put together than you might think. They’ll put the most expensive things at eye level and try to make you zigzag through rows and rows of enticing (unnecessary) snacks before you can make it from produce to dairy to meat. Instead of shopping through all the aisles, get to know your local market and create your own weekly shopping route. That way you won’t get stuck staring at all the tempting “extras” that will cost you extra cash.
6. You buy specialty spice blends
It always sounds really nice when a recipe calls for “Italian Blend Seasoning” or “Cajun Seasoning,” instead of a list of five different spices that you have to mix together by hand. Fancy spice blends are really pricey, especially if you own the basic spices you need to simply throw it together at home.
7. You buy pre-prepped foods
Anything that takes extra work behind the scenes is costing you cash. Sliced fruit, pre-washed greens, ground meat that is already shaped into patties, and grated cheese will up your bill considerably. If you’re willing to spend a tiny bit more time in the kitchen on prep, you’ll save some serious dough in the process. We suggest chopping/washing produce and doing other prep work as soon as you get home from the store so it’s just as easy to access throughout the week as the pre-prepped stuff.
8. You try recipes featuring ingredients you won’t use again
We love experimenting in the kitchen and trying new recipes, but try to find new recipes that utilize staples you already own. Avoid recipes with three or more random foods that you’ll never end up using again. Perishables you don’t have are fine, but if something calls for banana extract or pomegranate molasses and you don’t have several other uses for those pricey specialty goods lined up, maybe pass on that recipe.
9. You don’t buy seasonal
Yes, we live in a world where you can get your hands on almost any produce at any time of year. But, if you’re buying out-of-season fruits and veggies, you’re paying for that luxury. If you’re buying berries in the middle of winter, that means they had to be shipped from somewhere far away (which adds costs) or grown under special circumstances, all of which can lead to a 6-ounce container of raspberries for $6. Staying on top of what produce is in season will save you big bucks in the long run.
10. You only buy brand names
Brand names catch our eye because they’re what we’re programmed to gravitate towards (thanks to advertising and old habits). However, supermarkets often sell generic versions of the same exact product for a lot less money.
Portions of the article source from: http://www.refinery29.com/food-money-saving-tips#slide-2