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There are few things we love more than grocery shopping, although we’re partial to the delicious dinners that come afterwards (and the eating that comes after that). But we know that shopping for the gang can quickly add up. On average, a weekly grocery bill for a family of four can run between $150 and $300. That’s why we’ve compiled some of our favorite ways to save money while grocery shopping to keep your wallet and your family happy.
Build an inventory
At least once a month, go through your freezer and pantry to take stock of what you have and what you don’t need to buy. When you’re at the store, you won’t impulse-buy an item you already have, and you won’t be wondering about what else you might need.
Buy things in bulk
This doesn’t just apply to toilet paper. Buying food like pricey meat in quantity can dramatically cut costs down the road. Ordering from a meat supplier is a great way to save, but be aware that to get deals, you might have to order up to 40 pounds of chicken breasts or beef at once. If you don’t have the space, split the order with a friend. (Wondering what you’re going to do with all that chicken? Check out our best chicken dinners.)
Cooking large amounts of food at once is a great time-saver, and who doesn’t love coming home the next day and finding dinner already made? Make sure nothing spoils by freezing leftovers-a way to save money, time and headache. Stashing each serving in different Tupperware containers will also give you easy-to-grab meals for when you’re on-the-go. Need inspiration? Start with these freezer-ready meals.
Go shopping once a week
As far as math equations go, it’s pretty simple: the less you’re shopping, the more you’re saving. You’ll reduce impulse purchases and save money, time and gas by only heading to the store once a week. Plus, it will get you into the habit of planning ahead for the whole week, helping you organize your meals in advance. Meal prep, anyone?
Look for substitutes
We all have our indulgences, whether it’s goat cheese, gelato or a nice bottle of wine. Saving isn’t about cutting out what makes you happy but about shopping smarter. Each time you get back from the store, review your receipts to find the most expensive items. Can you substitute something else, or a different brand, next week? There are tons of pantry staple recipes you can make yourself for much less money.
There’s no better friend for a thrifty shopper than coupons. Find them in your store’s newsletter, or check out sites like coupons.com, smartsource.com, or redplum.com. Then use them wisely. There’s no rush as long as you’re aware of the expiration date, so wait for the items to go on sale to stack up discounts on discounts.
Be a loyal shopper
Variety may be the spice of life, but it isn’t the best way to save money. Stick to frequenting one grocery store, and take advantage of their loyalty program. You’ll start to rack up rewards, learn their promotions, and become familiar with how the program works so you can score freebies and generous markdowns.
Prepare a soundtrack
Our favorite way of feeling like we’re in a movie: Strut your stuff to a mix of upbeat songs while you shop, instead of the slower-paced tunes the store is playing. Martin Lindstrom, author of Brandwashed: Tricks Companies Use to Manipulate Our Minds and Persuade Us to Buy, found that the stores’ songs actually make us move slower, leading buyers to reach for more.
Say adieu to the cashier
Opt for the self-checkout line. Not only will the wait time generally be shorter-a perk we can get behind-but you’ll have less chance to linger around the sweets and last-minute temptations near the cashier. A study by IHL Consulting Group found self-checkout slashed impulse buys by 32% for women and 17% for men. You’ll also be more conscious of what you’re buying, giving you an opportunity to pass on any impulse items that might have wandered into your cart.
Pay attention to weight
There’s no better place to be concerned about weight than the grocery store. An item’s sticker price can only tell you so much, but look a little closer and you’ll see how much it costs per ounce or gram. Compare different brands, and different amounts between brands, to score the best deal.
Eat first, then shop
You’ve heard it before and we’re going to say it again: don’t go grocery shopping on an empty stomach. Studies have shown you’ll be tempted to grab more than you need, especially high calorie snacks you’d otherwise avoid. Need a bite before you go? We recommend one of our protein-packed salads.
Brushing up on some of the best ways to save money while grocery shopping will make you a smarter, savvier shopper and save you time, money and energy.