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25 Supermarket Tricks You Should Try Now To Save More Money

25 Supermarket Tricks You Should Try Now To Save More Money

If you follow the 50/30/20 budget created by Elizabeth Warren, you’ll find that 50% of your income should go toward the essentials — housing, utilities, and groceries. This means that it’s important for you to ensure that your dollar goes a long way so you can save the most money on this essential part of your budget. But how can you do that? Thankfully, there are a ton of tips, tricks, and mobile applications available to help out. Today, we will take a look at 25 supermarket tips and tricks to help you save money.

1. Join Supermarket Rewards

Various grocery stores have supermarket rewards programs that allow you to save a certain percentage on purchases, and receive exclusive offers and coupons. Check your local grocery store’s websites or ask about them in-store. Most of the time, they come in the form of a reward card or simply through using your telephone number. This means that when other family members go shopping, they can help rack up rewards for the whole family.

2. Don’t Buy Heads of Lettuce

A head of lettuce may seem like a cheaper option; however, because they are more likely to rot faster, they may be a wasteful option in the end. In addition, a head of lettuce could be more than you’ll actually need for your weekly meals. Bagged or boxed lettuce is much better than iceberg.

3. Know When to Buy Bulk

If you have certain groceries that are consistently purchased each week or month, you may find that buying in bulk is a cheaper option. Instead of buying a box each week for $2.50 each, you’ll save more purchasing the $6 three pack. This works best with groceries that don’t perish quickly.

4. Create and Maintain a Budget

The only way you can truly save money is to plan before spending, not vice versa. Giving yourself a grocery allowance ensures that you have a spending goal to not surpass. A common practice is to use the envelope method to save money each month.

5. Bargain Shop by Store, not Item

Chasing a coupon or item offer may seem like the smart option for a savvy shopper. But the truth is, you should branch out to other grocery stores to ensure you’re getting the biggest bang for your buck. The local small-box store may not offer the discounts and subsidies of the big box store nearby.

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6. Check Out Grocery iQ

Grocery iQ is a great application for individuals who are trying to formulate a grocery list. Through the use of barcode scanning and auto-suggest, you can create smart lists in no time. In addition, Grocery iQ is powered by Coupons.com, which means you’ll be connected to some amazing deals with the coupons offered through the Grocery iQ website. Grocery iQ is free to download on the App Store.

7. Make Use of Cellfire

If you find yourself at the grocery store without coupons, a common case when you might find yourself at a grocery store you don’t frequent, Cellfire is a great way to discover coupons for various supermarkets. All delivered and easily uploaded from your phone, you can simply tap and show the coupons to the clerk at checkout and discover instant savings.

8. Share the List with OurGroceries

Chances are, if you live in a multi-person household, you don’t entrust creating a grocery list to simply one person. Everyone has an input one way or another, because everyone will be indulging in the groceries. OurGroceries allows you to create group contributed grocery lists that can be edited, marked off, and shared between the various family members.

9. Shop Smartly with Fooducate

When at the supermarket, you shouldn’t sacrifice healthy eating for a good deal. If you are still on a diet and want to figure out the health benefits and drawbacks of an item in your basket, Fooducate is the application for you. This is all complete with an alphabetized food rating that allows you to quickly know if it’s a no or a go. Fooducate keeps you educated on what you eat.

10. Download Ziplist

Through the use of meal planning, you are able to get what you need for the week or month and head out of the grocery store. Ziplist is the application for task-oriented grocery shopping. In the end, through meal planning, you are able to save money and alleviate food waste. Grocery lists can be named, dated, and shared to stay organized. This is a great way to delegate grocery visits. In addition, Ziplist also get you in touch with weekly grocery deals.

11. Ask for Rain Checks

When an item isn’t available, you can ask for a rain check so you can pick it up once it is available again. However, for many consumers, most items aren’t important enough for them to consider doing this. But you could find yourself leaving free money on the table by forgoing a rain check, especially for a bigger-ticket item on sale. Discounts are often still honored once the item is back in stock.

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12. Shop on Weekdays

You may find that the weekend is a great time to go grocery shopping, a time when you are off work and can get this “chore” out of the way in a relaxing manner. However, you’d be surprised to find that Wednesday is the best day to go grocery shopping. This is the day of the week when produce and fish is freshly restocked and most supermarkets offer deals.

13. Bring Your Calculator

Having your calculator on hand is one of the best tips on this list. In addition to calculating combined deals between those of the store and those of your coupon, a calculator can truly tell if you will fare better buying in bulk or individually. Many supermarkets bet on their customers not calculating and doing price comparisons, so you may find a price loophole.

14. Look for Clearance Stock

Grocery stores have clearance sections and racks that feature foods that are near their expiration date. While this may not be the place to go for foods you won’t readily make use of, it is a great way to save on that night’s meal or small snacks for the week. With expiration dates within a week or two of being on the clearance rack, this is a great way to save on food that will be consumed quickly.

15. Discover Recipe Alternatives

Certain recipes online are created with the partnership of sponsors. Or they may put taste first before cost. However, you don’t have to fall into their trap by spending more than you should. If a recipe calls for a certain, specific brand, unless it is the only brand that offers that type of food, you’ll be perfectly fine going with the brand that offers the best deal rather than the one the recipe calls for. Additionally, if a recipe calls for an ingredient that notoriously expensive, like saffron, look into comparable substitutes, like turmeric.

16. Discover the Art of Sampling

Sampling is more than just free food. It is in fact an art form. For the supermarket, it’s are a great way to get individuals to spend more on items they may not have considered purchasing before. However, as a consumer you can utilize sampling in many ways.

First off, to prevent impulse purchasing, seek out samples straightaway if you are entering a supermarket hungry. This allows you to shop with your grocery list and not your stomach. Secondly, sampling is a great way to know if an item you have been considering is truly good or not, preventing you from wasting money. Lastly, you don’t have to just go to Costco for the samples. Trader Joe’s has a policy of allowing any customer to sample an item in the store before making a purchase.

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17. Shop by Season

Consumers, especially in the Western world, seem to ignore that some foods do in fact have seasons. With a lot of out of season produce being shipped in, you’ll find these items to be more expensive to offset shipping and transport costs. To save money while possibly discovering new fruit, shop for only in-season items. Above, is a chart of some commonly purchased produce and their respective seasons.

18. Check out “The Whole Deal”

Whole Foods Market is seen by some individuals as an expensive option for grocery shopping. However, the myriad of healthy and organic options makes it irresistible. In addition, the many deals they offer show that you are missing out on a great grocery resource. The Whole Deal is a coupon, deals, and money saving resource from Whole Foods Market that allows you to not break the bank when shopping at their supermarket.

19. Understand Grocery Store Geography

If you pay attention carefully, you’ll notice that almost all grocery stores are organized the same exact way. This is all based on psychology to get customers to spend more in stores. To save money, it is up to you to defy these money-draining tricks that use a combination of the customer’s height, product colors, and the assumption that customers are prone to impulse purchasing.

First off, when forming your grocery list, make necessary purchases (milk, bread, etc) the first things on your list. When you enter the grocery store, dart straight to the back of the store. By doing this, you are ignoring the unnecessary, money wasting, and snacking options commonly placed at the front of the store. When looking for healthy or inexpensive options in aisles, look down. Don’t look forward or up — that’s where unhealthy and expensive options are typically found. Also remember that the freshest produce is found at the back of the row or rack they are held in. To sell older produce faster, they are usually put up front. This is the same for eggs as well.

20. Utilize Markets and Ethnic Groceries

Big box stores are notorious for offering more opportunities to save money through a combination of accepting coupons, store rewards, and store discounts. However, for some staple foods, such as rice, noodles, certain spices and teas, you’ll find that you’ll save more by purchasing from ethnic food stores rather than big name stores. The selection may also be grander and some brands may even be more flavorful than those you’re accustomed to.

21. Take Inventory of your Stockpile

Before you go shopping, take a look at what you already have in your pantry. Performing a weekly clean out and inventory of your stock of food will not only prevent you from purchasing unnecessary duplicates. You’ll also find that doing this spot check can allow you to know when some key ingredients are close to expiration. You’ll be forced to either include them in the dish or go out and replace them now before you find yourself in need of it.

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22. Discover Healthier Snacking

Spending out of your budget for chips and cookies is not only unhealthy, it can result in a waste of money too. Who knew that eating healthy can actually save you money? If you make use of fruits and nuts for healthy snacks, you’ll be paying less because these are versatile foods. Unlike chips, which don’t find themselves in dishes, you can use fruit for breakfast, as a topping on oatmeal, and nuts can be used as a crunchy topping on salad. Drizzle chocolate over strawberries and your leftover snack from yesterday is now today’s dessert after dinner.

23. Understand Your Credit Card Rewards

If you are shopping around for a credit card that will work for you, or if you are looking for ways in which your current card can help you out at the supermarket, look into their current rewards and cash backs that they offer. With my American Express Blue Cash Preferred card, I get 6% back each statement cycle from supermarkets (up to $6000 a year, followed by 1% after that $6000 limit is met). However, this is only for a select number of supermarkets, including:

  • Gristedes
  • Foodtown
  • Pathmark
  • Shoprite
  • Stop and Shop
  • Vons
  • Whole Foods
  • Winn-Dixie
  • Online supermarkets such as FreshDirect

Ensure that you know the places where you’ll get rewards for your card. This can be the best money-saving tactic out there. $9 back on $150 worth of groceries is amazing!

24. Time is Money

Saving money can be a bit of a chore for some individuals. However, there comes a time when you should value time over money when hunting for a deal. While you shouldn’t forgo driving the extra mile (or five) to save money, you should ensure that you make use of good planning to prevent unnecessary trips out of your way. If a coupon expires in two or three weeks, wait until you get to that side of town before making use of the coupon instead of going out of your way for one item. While you may spend $0.50 or $0.60 more on something, you’re saving more than that in gas money.

25. Expand Your Organic Knowledge

Buying organic is all the rage nowadays. However, along with being seen as healthier and cleaner, organic is between 20% and 50% more expensive than it’s non-organic equivalent. While it is proven that buying organic is a good choice, you can save money by selectively purchasing organic. The foods that are most likely to be treated with unhealthy pesticides are those you should look to replace with organic alternatives, including:

  •  Apples
  •  Celery
  •  Cucumbers
  •  Grapes
  •  Peaches
  •  Potatoes
  •  Peppers (Hot and Sweet)
  •  Spinach
  •  Blueberries
  •  Tomatoes
  •  Snap Peas
  •  Oranges

You should also ensure that any items that include these ingredients (salsa, fruit salads, prepared salads, etc) are organic as well.

Featured photo credit: Jezebel via i.kinja-img.com

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Published on January 17, 2020

How to Eat Healthy on a Budget (The Definitive Guide)

How to Eat Healthy on a Budget (The Definitive Guide)

Have you ever looked at health gurus and wondered how on earth they can afford all that health food? Or maybe you’ve tried multiple times to start eating healthy only to find the $600 monthly budget overwhelming?

If you’re anything like me, you know exactly what I’m talking about! I absolutely understand the sinking feeling of looking back over a grocery budget and finding you went way over what you intended. And besides that, it can be hard to justify buying a tiny $5 bag of carrot chips while a $1 mound of potato chips is sitting right next door.

My husband and I recently ran into that struggle. We got married this past year and soon found ourselves trying to balance 12 hour work-days with keeping our relationship strong and trying to keep our personal businesses afloat. Granted, our budget was the one thing that took a hit! After we started tracking our spending, we were shocked to see we were spending over $1000 a month just on food! A little planning cleared that right up.

So, how to eat healthy on a budget?

Here’re the top tips I learned that helped us shave over $600 monthly off of our food budget so we could reinvest that in the areas that really mattered to us![1]

1. Meal Plan

You’ve probably heard the saying “Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail” right? Well, this saying couldn’t be any more true than in the area of healthy budgeting! The fact is, most healthy foods don’t actually cost that much… the pre-made time saving ones do!

If you go about creating a healthy meal plan within your budget, you could easily cut costs down to around the same price you are paying for junk food.

Meal planning is as simple as working in foods you already have in your fridge/freezer, adding in several meals with simple ingredients and seasonal veggies, and breaking it down into a shopping list.

Often, finding a few meals to make in big batches will save you the most money in the long run, which leads me to my next point.

2. Cook in Bulk

Not only will cooking in bulk save you a whole lot of time, it will save you a whole lot of money too! Believe it or not, if you find meals to make with similar ingredients, you can easily save more money than when you were eating unhealthy.

Don’t believe me? Just look at a $4 frozen pasta dinner. Now, sub that with a veggie pasta dinner. 5 zuchinni ($3), Pasta sauce ($2.50), and chicken ($5) could last you a full 5 meals which adds up to a whopping total of just over $1 per meal!

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That’s not even digging in to all the money you will save from fast-food. Trust me, a little $10 spent here and there add up! You’ll be saving a whopping amount from all the meal prep you will do!

3. Cook all Your Meals in One Day

The science behind this is 2-fold.

Number one, if you have lots of meals to grab and go, you will be far less likely to binge on pricier food when you get hungry. Let’s be real, you’re not going to spend 1 hour cooking when hub-n’-grub is at your bekon-call!

Number 2, meal prepping ahead of time will help you stick to your meal plan better when you’re not in the mood. Let’s face it, we’re all going to have days when protein and veggies doesn’t exactly sound appealing. But, if you have a full meal that’s quick to grab in the fridge, it will be easier for you to fill up on the good stuff rather than spending money on what you don’t really need.

4. Cut Back on Snacks and Specialty Items

I can almost hear you from across the screen. “But, I thought snacks were good for me!” Here’s the deal: Snacks are expensive! And healthy snacks, oh my goodness, say goodbye to your paycheck!

Look, I’m definitely not saying that healthy snacks are bad. Quite frankly, I would much rather you chow down on Halo Top than a triple-butterfinger-fudge sundae. It’s just that… healthy snacks are why eating healthy gets a bad rap for being expensive.

Look at it this way: You could either buy a week’s worth of groceries full of chicken, fish, beans, veggies, and fruits for $30. Or, you can spend that $30 on six snacks that will leave you hungry for more.

What’s more, the ingredients for gluten-free baked goods, sugar free substitutes, or protein powders alone will add up to you eating a full week’s budget in one sitting. By all means, if you want to work some yummy items into your budget, do it! But don’t confuse that extra monthly $300 of delicacies as a necessity. Your body and budget will thank you!

5. Satisfy Yourself with Your Favorite Subs

We all have an emotional tie to food. Maybe pasta reminds you of home! Or maybe a fresh-baked pizza is what gives you a feeling of comfort. Whatever you favorite food, find a way to work it into your budget in the best way.

We’re only human, and depriving ourselves of what we love will never end well. More often than not actually, it ends in take-out or a pricey-premade substitute.

Instead of finding yourself in this situation, find a way to make your favorite foods fit your budget. Zuchinni noodle pasta might just give you that feeling of home without breaking the bank. Or maybe you could google a healthy pizza alternative you would like that you could make at home. Often, something similar to your craving will be enough to give you a sense of satisfaction.

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Or, just buy your cheat meal and save it for a special day. That’s okay too!

6. Stick to the Cheaper Proteins

Okay, I know we all love steak. Unfortunately, buying pre-cooked or expensive cuts of meat are one of the easiest ways to drain a budget.

Instead of purchasing those, try buying frozen chicken or eggs. A 5 lb bag of frozen chicken can be as cheap as $5, and you can buy a whole weeks worth of eggs for just over $1. You could even try going vegetarian for a few meals if you really want to cut down on costs!

7. Buy Frozen Fruits and Veggies

I know, we all love our fresh fruits and veggies! However, sometimes frozen might be the way to go if you’re looking to cut costs!

Fruits and veggies are easiest to ship when frozen, making them a much cheaper option. Contrary to popular belief, scientists have actually found that frozen might be better for you too![2]

The reason is, frozen produce is picked at its prime and shipped immediately. Fresh fruit tends to be picked much earlier so it will ripen while being shipped. Not only does this make it less nutrient dense, but sometimes the fruits are actually pumped with artificial flavors to make up for the lack of real nutrients.

While I’m all for fresh fruits and veggies, don’t feel guilty if you opt for frozen foods due to a budget.

8. Bump up the Calories with Rice and Beans

The problem some people find when trying to eat healthy is that it can be hard to get the amount of calories you need without relying on expensive “specialty” items. Instead of stocking up on pricey gluten-free breads and pasta, I say stick to simple rice and beans as the bulk of your meals.

Brown Rice is very cheap and easy to use as a base for bowls and dishes. Likewise, beans can add a bit of fiber making you feel full and satisfied without having to spend a lot of money.

If you are trying to cut on body fat, use extra veggies as the bulk of your meal and add in rice and beans as a filler.

9. Try Acai Bowls

Acai Bowls can be a really cheap and satisfying meal as long as you do it right.

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You can find cheap fruits at most stores or just freeze your fresh fruits before it goes bad.

Making your own granola can save you a lot of money as well. The total cost for this delicious meal should only add up to a few dollars compared to triple that price if you were to buy one pre-made.

10. Make Your Own Meal Kits

Do you like your meals freshly cooked? Sending meal kits to your doorstep is an easy way to drain your budget. Instead, try making your meal kit at home! Not only is it fun, you will easily get a delicious taste.

Simply find a few simple meal cards or print some out and fill a ziplock with the ingredients for each specific day. Don’t know what recipe to make? Another option is to order one month of meal kits and recycle the recipe into ingredients for the upcoming months with ingredients you picked up from the store.

11. Don’t Drink Your Calories

A few dollars spent here and there can really add up! Just as with specialty items, healthy drinks can be a blackhole for you. An energy drink and kombucha and coffee each day could easily have you spending and extra $300 each month!

I you really need a special drink fix, try making your favorites at home. Bring a coffee in, make kombucha, or even try making lemonade with stevia or a healthy soda. You’ll be surprised w hat a big difference such a small change can make on your budget!

12. Buy Cheap Online

Just like anything else, it pays to be prepared. Buying foods from online retailers can be a really affordable way to save money as long as you’re prepared.

Plan ahead for those more expensive specialty items you can’t live without. It will save you tons of money compared to having to buy food from a specialty store.

13. Don’t Fret about the Clean Fifteen

One of the huge things that can mess with a person’s budget is eating organic. For the record, I am 110% all for eating organic whenever you can. However, for some people, it can be hard to make organic food fit into a budget.

Instead of scratching healthy eating for a smaller budget, try to buy meat and the dirty dozen organic, and don’t go crazy about the rest. The clean fifteen are the fifteen safest foods to buy that aren’t organic! Meanwhile, the dirty dozen is the most worthwhile avoiding. According to Produce Retailer, these are the dirty dozens:[3]

  1. Strawberries
  2. Spinach
  3. Kale
  4. Nectarines
  5. Apples
  6. Grapes
  7. Peaches
  8. Cherries
  9. Pears
  10. Tomatoes
  11. Celery
  12. Potatoes

14. Pay Attention to Storage

Keeping the food you have is just as important as how much food is in the first place. Try to stay on top of how much produce you can actually use before it goes bad. It might not be a bad idea to pencil an extra shopping trip in the middle of the week to keep food fresh.

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Investing in good food storage containers could go a long way in saving you in the long run as well.

15. Freeze Food Before it Goes Bad

Instead of getting mad at yourself at the end of the week for all the wilted produce you need to throw out, try freezing it before you get to that point.

Most frozen veggies will taste delicious in stir fries and soups. You can freeze fruits to make sorbet or smoothies. Frozen greens can be chopped up and tossed into just about anything for a nutrient boost!

16. Consider Ditching Most Supplements and Powders

I have nothing against superfood powders and supplements. However, if your budget is tight, it can be hard to fit supplements and powders in.

Instead of adding in powders, add extra nutrients to you food. Add lots of greens and veggies to all your meals to meet your nutrient needs. If you need a specific supplement, you can find great deals online as well!

17. Use Budget App

There are so many great apps you can download for free. One of my current favorite is HoneyDue because you can track your budget easily with your spouse. There are many options available, just find the one that you’re most likely to use. The ones that download your spendings automatically are often the easiest and will give you a more accurate number.

My husband and I use the same app, but have a separate budget for each of our weekly food plan and for our additional snacks. Keeping things separate can often be helpful to know exactly where your money is going. Plus, it can help hold you accountable if you have a significant other you are sharing money with.

18. Use What you Have

Most people have unused protein powders lying around in their cabinets. Instead of letting that go to waste, work them into your meal plan. Protein powders can make amazing doughnuts, pastries, or pancakes!

19. Enjoy the Process!

Finding ways to enjoy your new lifestyle will be helpful in sticking to it long term. Find fun in seeing how much you can save each month. Make a competition with someone to see who can stick to the lowest budget and create something fun to do for the winner with some of the money saved! Blast some music in the kitchen while cooking your new recipes.

Budgeting and health doesn’t have to be a drag. Make it fun and you’ll enjoy your new lifestyle long-term!

Featured photo credit: kevin laminto via unsplash.com

Reference

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