Ways to Shop Smarter and Save Money on Groceries

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saving money grocery stores frugal living food and groceries financial planning

The following is a guest post. Enjoy! 

We’ve all done it at times; shuffled down to the nearest supermarket rather than making a detour to the shop with the best deals. But, with many households still struggling to balance their income and expenditure and food which has risen more quickly than inflation, it’s important to make the right decision when it comes to shopping.

Shop at a Store with the Best Deals

Many people shop at a supermarket simply because it’s the one they have always frequented and probably their parents before them, never questioning whether it really offers value for money. But, taking a closer look at how much things cost can bring home some uncomfortable truths.

In recent months, supermarkets have launched into a fierce price battle in a desperate bid to attract shoppers and steal custom from their rivals. Savvy spenders are taking advantage of the price war and rather than staying loyal to just one shop, regularly switch between stores, depending on the offers and deals available.

Buy Generic When Possible

In addition, you may be one of the many shoppers that prefers to purchase brand name goods only, steering clear of generic own-label supermarket goods. However, in reality, many of these are manufactured by the branded company and simply sold under the supermarket packaging.

Researchers recently carried out a taste test and discovered that in a large proportion of cases, shoppers could not distinguish between branded and own label goods when blindfolded. And in many cases, the own-label goods were actually identified as the preferred brand!

Buy Frozen Foods to Save Money

Another means of cutting back on the price of shopping without skimping on your favorite foods is to consider purchasing frozen goods.

Frozen food is often viewed as substandard in some way and more comparable to convenience meals. However, a recent study by nutritionalists found that even high end items such as prawns contained the same nutritional value whether they were purchased frozen or chilled. With the price of meat being particularly hit by inflation, frozen food is a good way to reduce the cost without having to compromise. In many cases, frozen vegetables are preferable to fresh because the nutrients are sealed in and no degeneration can take place.

Consider Purchasing Items on the Internet

How often have you gone shopping and ended up with a basket load of items that you weren’t planning on buying and don’t really need? If this sounds like you, Internet shopping might be another way of saving some money.

Most supermarkets charge a small fee for delivering your items but offsetting this against the price of the gas you would use and the extra money you would spend, it could still work out cheaper. In addition, for the first few shops you could find that you get it for free as different supermarkets frequently offer to waive the delivery charge for the first order.

The other advantage to home shopping is that you have more time to check out the best bargains without any pressures of time or children playing havoc in the aisles. The first time you shop will take slightly longer but after that your preferences will be saved, making it quick and easy to re-order items. This will give you more time to compare prices between different brands and, potentially, even different shops!

Least We Forget Coupons..

No article on being a more savvy shopper would be complete without a mention of the latest craze: couponing. Shoppers everywhere are saving money by snipping money-off vouchers or special offers from papers and magazines. Some people claim they can save literally hundreds of Dollars per year!

Couponing can be a great way to save some money, but it’s important to keep an eye on what you need to spend in order to get the discount. If, for example, you need to buy 10 cans of dog food to qualify for a free packet of breakfast cereal – and you don’t own a dog – you could end up worse off.

With a bit of careful planning, it is possible to radically cut your shopping bill without having to go on a starvation diet. There are lots of different ways to save money and leave a bit more in your pocket, making household budgeting a little easier and less of a juggling act.

But, if you find that you’re struggling financially each month, you could try and consolidate debts into a lower, more affordable monthly repayment plan and free up a little money each month. To help you work out what solution would suit you best, one financial expert has put together this helpful free debt guide that will tell you everything you need to know about getting out of debt.

How about you all? What methods do you use to save money at the grocery store that work well for you? Have you tried any of the ones mentioned above?

Share your experiences by commenting below!

Jacob’s Thoughts – Listed below are my random thoughts as I was reading this article.

  • Personally, I employ a lot of these techniques in my monthly shopping to save money. 
  • The most potent method for me is making sure to make my big grocery shopping purchases at the cheapest place around (in my case, this is Wal-Mart). I’ve found that I can literally get about 30% more food for about the same price as I would spend at Kroger, even with my Kroger card discounts.
  • Next, I always buy Wal-Mart’s generic Great Value brand whenever possible. As mentioned in the article above, I am pretty sure that these are the same products, just with different packaging than the brand name ones. That saves me a lot of money as well! 
  • I don’t buy many of my normal monthly items online. However, my sister is happily using Amazon’s new recurring shipment service where they will automatically put in an order of say toilet paper each month and deliver it to your doorstep for free. Nice right?!
  • Regarding coupons, since I mainly shop at Wal-Mart and buy Great Value, I don’t really need to use coupons since the items are already at rock bottom prices. However, if I do buy bigger-ticket items, I usually try to find online coupons or sites that provide me cash back by buying through them as well. 

***Photo courtesy of http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/75/Colourful_shopping_carts.jpg

Comments

  1. MyFIJourney says:

    I do a number of these, but the downside is that I seem to spend a lot of time shopping as different stores are better for different levels of price/quality.

    I won't buy fresh food or meat from Wal Mart. Neither will I buy anything labeled Great Value. Not because I have some moral issue with WalMart, but because the quality is terrible. Their meat is pumped full of broth. And their generic tastes awful. It's the only generic I won't buy. I understand that WalMart reformulated/improved a number of their generics a few years ago, but I have yet to give them another try.
    My recent post A Brief Primer on Dividend Growth Stocks Part 1: What are they and how do they make money?

    • I hear ya on the time issue! One of the reasons that I'm not a big practitioner of coupon clipping is because it takes time that I would rather spend doing other things.
      My recent post Ways to Shop Smarter and Save Money on Groceries

  2. moneybeagle says:

    Our biggest change in recent months has been that we've become Aldi shoppers. We don't have one that's exactly nearby, there are two that are 7 miles away each, so it wasn't that we avoided them, we just didn't go out of our way. Finally, I kept reading about what a great store it was, and although I'd been in them a couple of times, I never really thought much of it. The brands weren't names that I recognized, but after doing some homework, I learned that isn't a problem. The prices are great and I've found that a lot of their stuff is as good or better quality than recognized brands. In many cases, it's a name brand just with a different label. We've been able to cut probably 10-15% of our monthly grocery bill by getting a lot of our produce and other items from Aldi.

    • Hey MB! I'm actually a big Aldi fan! They are likely my 2nd favorite money-saving place behind WalMart. When I lived up in the Philly burbs, Wal Mart Supercenter was like an hour away, so I couldn't go there very easily. Because of that, I turned to doing my shopping at Aldi. The quality was good, and the prices were likely about the same as WalMart. I like their business model because everything is so lean – only one cashier, no credit cards, quarters for getting a cart! It all works beautifully!
      My recent post The Top Online Savings Accounts with the Best APY

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