How to save money on groceries when food costs keep rising


And the cost only seems to be increasing: The cost of food was up 11% in 2022 over the previous year, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office. That’s the biggest annual increase in food prices since the 1980s. Although food prices are expected to grow more slowly in 2023, the Department of Agriculture still predicts an increase of nearly 8%. 

How to save money on groceries

Even with seemingly straightforward purchases like groceries, shoppers may struggle with responses or behaviors that come from their family and childhood history around money, according to Pamela Capalad, a certified financial planner and the founder and CEO of Brunch & Budgets. “Grocery shopping seems so fundamental and essential, and technically, we’ve been doing it all our lives,” she says. “But when you’re an adult, figuring that stuff out and figuring out your own personal rhythm around it is hard.” 

Fortunately, you don’t have to be a money pro or expert shopper to save money on groceries. Whether you’re cooking for yourself, or shopping with a roommate, partner, or children in mind, there are a few actions you can take to lower your grocery bill.  

1. Start simple and make a list 

Building a list for your grocery store trip can help with planning ahead and being intentional at the store. When crafting your shopping list, it’s important to be realistic about what your actual consumption will be, according to William Thompson, a certified financial planner at Valor Wealth Partners. Otherwise, you’ll end up spending money on produce or other perishables that may end up in the trash. 

A list can also help with meal planning. Different from meal prepping, meal planning is an approach that involves choosing meals in advance based on your schedule, preferences, and ingredients available—and then building a shopping list around that menu. If you’re unsure where to start, Notion has meal planning templates you can use, and a tool like the TickTick app can help manage a running list of items.

Keep in mind that shopping lists don’t work for everyone, though. Capalad says to not feel like you’re “bad” at grocery shopping if a list ultimately doesn’t keep you on track. It’s about what works for you. Capalad says she personally avoids lists and instead often shops online, where there can be extra costs such as delivery fees and tips, but she can avoid the temptation of adding random items to her cart. 

2. Look for coupons and sales 

Using coupons is an easy way to save money on groceries. A recent study by CouponFollow found the typical U.S. household could save $1,465 a year using coupons, with the biggest savings (about $316 annually) coming from the grocery store.

While you can sit and clip physical coupons from grocery store mailers, many coupons are available with less hassle on rebate apps and websites such as Iobtta and

Be sure to focus on coupons for kitchen and pantry essentials, and don’t force couponing if you find that you’re using them on products you wouldn’t otherwise buy. “The thing that you can get caught up on with coupon clipping is buying things that you don’t actually want or need, and that can also drain your budget,” Capalad says. 

3. Compare prices between brands and stores 

In order to save money on groceries, it can help to break your loyalty to a certain store or brand and do more comparison shopping. Tools such as Grocery King or My Grocery Deals can help you compare sales across stores. However, it’s important to make sure you’re comparing apples to apples by checking the price per unit (such as ounces or grams) of the product you’re substituting for another. That way, you can ensure you’re truly getting the same portions for a lower cost. 

Keep in mind that comparison shopping loses its effectiveness if you are traveling far distances to other stores and using up gas or electricity. “You don’t have to get caught up in getting the best price for something if it’s going to also cost you time and energy,” Capalad says. 

4. Join a wholesale club 

In some cases, investing in a club membership can be worth the savings you get on food and household items. An analysis by Consumers’ Checkbook found that Costco and Sam’s Club beat most supermarket chain prices by 20% to 35%. (A Costco membership ranges from $60 to $120 a year, depending on the level, while Sam’s club memberships cost $50 to $110.) 

Again, for this to pay off, you need to be strategic about the types of items you buy and choose things that can last a while in the pantry, fridge, or freezer. So ultimately, you want your savings to make up for the cost of the membership for any wholesale club you sign up for to be worth it.

If you’re unsure whether you can take full advantage of a wholesale club membership, many clubs offer trial memberships so you can try it out.  

5. Buy in bulk

Though the amount you can save depends on the particular item, buying in bulk almost always costs less per unit. If you aren’t interested in a membership at a wholesale club, there are still ways to take advantage of similar bulk savings. Big box stores such as Target and Walmart, as well as online retailers like Amazon, also offer some items in bulk.

When deciding what products you should buy in small vs. bulk quantities, Capalad recommends thinking about what you’re trading off by buying in bulk, because it can also result in fewer options. For Capalad, that realization came while comparing prices on sparkling water. She found that the bulk option was about a dollar less than her usual purchase, but she was limited to two flavors. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Still have a few questions about saving money on groceries? Here are answers to some of the most common questions.

Are pre-packaged or processed items cheaper? 

Generally, it’s more affordable to prepare a meal that you cook from individual ingredients than buying pre-packaged or processed foods. Of course, cooking takes more time and effort. So if the other option is buying takeout or eating at a restaurant, then buying pre-packed food could be the cheaper alternative. Ultimately, you’ll have to decide whether financial or time savings are more important to you. “Finding the balance between those things is going to be really key,” says Capalad.

What are the best cards for grocery rewards? 

If you’re going to pay for groceries with a credit card, it’s a good idea to at least get some money back on that spending. Certain cash back rewards cards offer a flat cash back rate on purchases at grocery stores, while others might offer a rotating category you need to select each quarter. Either way, look for cards that offer competitive cash back rates of at least 3%. 

Are loyalty programs at grocery stores worth it? 

Loyalty programs can seem like extra effort, but they’re a pretty simple way to opt into extra savings opportunities. “It’s only going to cost you a few minutes of your time to get signed up whether you’re doing it on the app or checkout,” Thompson says.

Source link

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.