Parent and child grocery shopping
Money Management

Fire Up Your Savings Game: Saving on Groceries

With prices rapidly rising on everyday items, perhaps your savings plan has been put on hold. These tips will help you find more money in your budget – starting with saving at the grocery store.

# 1 – Plan before You Shop to Save on Groceries

Know what you have to spend: Set a budget or a dollar limit for each trip to the store or each order, and keep a running tally as you shop so you don’t go over your budget.

  • Before you go to the store, take inventory of what you already have and make a list of what you need. Try meal-prepping and plan for meals, snacks, and needs that will carry you through the week, or until the next time you intend to shop. Remember to also check on things like cleaning supplies, personal toiletries, or other household items.
  • Eat before you shop! Shopping while hungry (or in the company of hungry children) could tempt you to stray from your list.
  • Sticking to your list is probably the most important thing you can do to save money on groceries and hit your grocery budget. Your list is your plan. When you buy something else, you’re spending your money on something you didn’t plan for.

#2 – Compare Prices from Different Stores

You have tons of grocery shopping options. Looking closely at them and finding the mix that works for you can help you balance your personal preferences, the kinds of things you need, and the price you’re willing to pay. You may find out that by splitting your grocery list up between a few options gets you the best deals.

  • Check dollar stores for deals on household items.
  • Traditional supermarkets and superstores are familiar and convenient choices where you can compare pricing between different brands and accomplish a lot in one store.
  • Bulk retailers or wholesale clubs might be a good way to stock up on quantity for a lower per-use cost. But, only buy things in quantity when it makes sense.

#3 – Find the Best Deals on the Things You Need

You know what you need to buy because you made an awesome list. But how can you get the best deal on each of those items?

  • Compare apples-to-apples by using the unit price as your comparison number: calculate the price per pound, ounce, or use. Many items will have a unit price already calculated for you on the price tag.
  • Know what things cost. Just because something is on sale doesn’t mean it’s a good deal.
  • Take the time to compare your list with sales, coupons, and specials to see if you can win a few extra savings points! But, only shop the sales for what you need. If it’s not urgent, wait for something to go on sale to buy it.
  • Give the generic or store brand a try. Often they’re lower in price.
  • When you check out, make sure you’re being charged what you expected. If you think you’re being overcharged, speak up. It never hurts to ask.

#4 – Use All of What You Buy

Stretch those dollars even further by reducing or eliminating waste, so you can buy less often. And maximize your grocery purchases for the foods and supplies that meet your needs, and make your life easier, happier, and healthier.

  • Process and store food to maximize shelf life. Store things in their ideal conditions to make them last if you need them to. If it’s something you won’t prepare for a week, freeze it to keep it fresh.
  • Organize your storage so you can easily find things.
  • Stick with your menu plan! Make the recipes you planned to and use the fresh ingredients you bought with your hard-earned money when they’re at their peak flavor and quality.

What to Do If You’re Struggling with Your Grocery Bill?

Looking at your whole financial picture, learning about your different options, and making a plan for your finances can relieve a huge amount of stress and anxiety and help you figure out how to get where you want to be.

Orange County’s Credit Union offers Financial Wellness coaching to help manage debt, improve credit, and lead a financially healthy life. Get started by reviewing your budget and visiting our Financial Wellness page to learn more about firing up your savings game.