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Five Easy Ways to Save on Grocery Bills
There's no question that grocery shopping expends a large part of our monthly budget. But while food is a necessary expense, overpaying for food is optional- or, at the very least, accidental. By making a conscious effort to shop smartly, you can save hundreds of dollars a year while continuing to enjoy the food that you love. Here are 5 easy ways to reduce your grocery bill without reducing your shopping list.
- Make lists. Studies show that the average American consumer spends over $5,000 a year on groceries. Much of this sum, however, is spent on unnecessary items and impulse buys. By taking a few extra minutes a week to make a shopping list before heading to the store, consumers will know exactly what they need and will be acutely aware of every extra item that they place in their cart. This consciousness will force shoppers to rethink every extraneous purchase before spending extra money.
Another list that can help consumers save money is a menu listing all the meals that will be eaten throughout the week. Consumers who plan their menus in advance save money on pre-packaged meals by preparing similar dishes themselves for a fraction of the price of a prepared meal. A standard prepared noodle dish, for example, costs $2.50-$4.50, for 1-2 diners. Consumers who prepare a comparable meal themselves can serve 5-6 diners for the same price.
- Shop online. Shopping for groceries online is a great way to save money because it prevents shoppers from throwing any extras into their cart. While many online shopping stores do charge for delivery, this nominal fee pales in comparison to the hefty sum that is generally spent on impulse buys. An additional benefit of online shopping is the personalized produce selection that most online grocery stores offer. While many consumers often purchase produce that is either under-ripe or over-ripe, online stores generally deliver the freshest produce so that fewer items will be thrown away because they spoiled quickly or did not ripen properly. Finally, shopping online is an especially useful money-saving tactic for consumers living in cities or those without cars who would otherwise request a delivery.
- Buy generic brands. Many consumers erroneously believe that store-brand products are inferior to name brand items. While this may be true in some cases, it is often an incorrect assumption. In fact, many generic brands are produced and packaged in the same plants as brand-name items. However, because the stores do not spend money advertising their products as larger companies do, they can afford to sell their products at a markedly lower price.
- Stockpile groceries that are on sale. There are many non-perishable staples such as toilet paper, cereals, and snacks that can be purchased when they are on sale and saved for a later time. While this may cost you money on a week when you don't need those products, it will save you from paying full price when you would have otherwise needed the items. Read your local grocery circulars to see which items are on sale, and make sure to pick up those things during your next shopping trip.
- Use coupons. One of the most obvious ways to save money on grocery bills is to shop with coupons. And yet, many Americans complain that they don't have enough time to sift through coupon books or cut out the savings for just a few cents. Cutting out coupons, however, can amount to significant savings over the course of the year. If every consumer saves $5 a week with coupons (and many actually save more than $5), he or she is saving $260 a year! Savvy consumers can find coupons for their favorite items in their local newspapers and at various websites. Once you get into the habit of clipping coupons, you won't believe how much money you can save.
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