Envy those savvy grocery shoppers that come armed with coupons and always seem to know exactly what’s on sale and what to buy where? Here are 9 ways to help save money on your monthly grocery bill, most of them as easy on the environment as they are on your wallet.
1. Buy lettuce by the head, not by the bag or box. OK, so it may actually take you all of three minutes to cut, wash and dry a head of lettuce compared to buying the pre-washed bag or box, but on average you will save about $3.50-$4.50 for the exact same amount of lettuce. It’s also better for the environment (not as much plastic being used) and you probably want to wash the lettuce anyway, regardless of whether or not it’s in a bag or box. The lettuce will also be fluffier and fresher.
2. Buy your milk (& orange juice) from a convenience store rather than the grocery store. This may vary depending on where you live, but where I am a gallon of milk in the grocery store (store brand) is about $3.19-3.75 and in the convenience store it is only $2.49. That may not seem like much of a difference, but every little bit helps and in my house (with two kids, four people total) we go through about 4 gallons a week. That equates to a savings of $22.50 per month! Orange juice is also cheaper as a half gallon is typically $3.50-3.99 at the grocery store and only $2.50 at the convenience store.
3. Don’t buy perishables in bulk, unless you will use them. Every time I buy a five pound bag of potatoes I use about one and a half pounds and the rest grows arms before I get to eat it. I could have saved around $2.00-3.00 had I just bought the four potatoes I ate rather than the big bag that got tossed.
4. You can also buy celery, carrots, and other veggies in singles. Just as in point #3, if you don’t need an entire bag of celery sticks, don’t buy the whole bag. Most grocery stores have a separate section where you can buy carrots, celery and other vegetables in any quantity. If you only need one stick of carrot and one celery for a soup you are making, you can just buy one of each for a fraction of the cost of an entire bag.
5. Prepare your vegetables yourself. I know it is tempting to buy the pre-chopped onions, peppers, and zucchini, but it is a high price to pay to save five minutes of your time. You will save anywhere from $2.00-5.00 cutting your own vegetables. If time is a factor, my advice is to prepare all your vegetables ahead of time (I usually do it after I get home from grocery shopping). Place the vegetables in tupperware (not plastic bags) and add a crumbled up paper towel. The paper towel will absorb the moisture, thus leading to longer shelf life, and your vegetables will be ready to go when you need them.
6. Don’t buy watered-down juice. If you’re a savvy mom or dad (or at least a health-conscious one) and you have heard that your kids should reduce their juice intake, that’s great! Many companies are cashing in on this and are selling juices that are watered-down. So you are paying the same amount as the regular juice (whether in a bottle or in a juice-box), but you are getting half the juice and tap water that comes free right from your faucet. In other words, the companies are making twice as much money off of you! Buy 100% juice (in its entirety) and mix it with water at home. You will save around $2.75 to $4.99.
7. Don’t buy bottled water. In case you haven’t heard, most bottled water is tap water. The only difference is you pay $1.50 per 20 oz. if it comes in a plastic container. Drink more water from your faucet, it really is the same quality (it may even be better!). You will be doing your wallet and the environment a big favor! If your town water is questionable, you can always buy a water filter for your faucet. A much more economical answer to filtered water. If you only drank one 20 oz. bottle of water a day, this would save you $45 per month. And of course you need at least three times that.
8. Always look through the flyer and ask the deli clerk, butcher, etc, to see if anything is on sale. I know I have made the mistake of going to the deli counter, asking for the same meat I always get, just to find out a competing brand is on sale that week for $2.00-3.00 less per pound.
9. Try to shop at the same store. When you know a store’s layout, you spend less. You’re familiar with the products they carry and spend less time looking for things. In contrast, when you shop in places you aren’t familiar you tend to “look” more and thus buy more because you notice items you haven’t seen but want to try. On average, whenever I venture out to a “new” store, I spend $30 more than normal.
Now, if you make every change I just mentioned (on estimate) you would save about $170 per month!
Kimberly Bither, M.S., CPFT is a Nutritionist, Fitness Trainer, and
Writer at KimberlyFitness.com.