According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion’s January 2012 Cost of Food Survey, an average family of four living on a moderate spending budget accumulates a monthly grocery shopping bill of approximately $861 – $1,024. Those numbers are only expected to rise as inflation and fuel prices continue to escalate – leaving many families to wonder how they will afford such high register check-out prices. Fortunately, there are some grocery shopping tips you can use to trim back your grocery bill each month without sacrificing too many of the foods you enjoy most.
Coupon, Coupon, Coupon!
It may seem cliché, but couponing is back with a vengeance. But don’t limit your expectations of couponing to what you watched your mom clip from Sunday newspapers. Today’s coupons are becoming more technical, with many stores allowing you to swipe coupons off of your cell phones at the registers. You can also print off valuable store and manufacturer coupons online, and some major grocery stores allow you to pre-load register discount cards with in-store coupons that are automatically deductible at check-out.
Stack Your Discounts
Don’t stop at couponing. Some stores will price-match competitor sale ads, meaning you can stack coupons on top of sale prices for the lowest possible price. If you are extra grocery savvy, head to the supermarket on days when your retailer will double or triple coupons up to a specified amount.
Purchase in Bulk
If you have a large family, consider consolidating your grocery trips into more efficient trips to bulk retailers. Stores like Costco and Sam’s Club offer significant discounts on every day items that may last up to four times as long as smaller containers sold in normal grocery stores. Keep in mind, however, that purchases at bulk suppliers usually require annual membership fees, so factor in those costs to determine whether the grocery savings are justifiable.
Beware of Sale Traps
Sometimes, even the best deals are not a good buy. Do not purchase a grocery item that you know your family will never use or simply because you have a buy-one, get-one deal. Inexperienced couponers often get discouraged at the check-out counter with a basket full of groceries and a bill that is much higher than it normally is without coupons and store discounts. Remember, coupons are meant to entice customers to purchase an item they may not otherwise select, so always shop with a grocery list.
Stop Throwing Out Food
Above all, whatever food you purchase, make an effort to use it. This may seem the most obvious of all the grocery shopping tips but according to CNN Money, Americans throw away twice as much food every week as they did two decades ago. Rather than throwing away perfectly good groceries, learn to freeze and vacuum seal your foods to get a longer shelf life out of them. There is a lot of money to be saved in produce alone that is frozen, rather than thrown away due to losing ripeness and freshness.