The average American eats a ton of food each year — literally! In other words, they’re packing away1,996 pounds worth of snacks, most of which are sweets, carbs, and cheese. That kind of appetite isn’t cheap. Between takeout, readymade meals, and a long grocery bill, your eating habits can end up costing a small fortune. According to Gallup, the average American spends $151 on food every week.That’s a lot of money for a small budget. If you’re looking for a quick way to make some savings, you should look at your diet for ideas. Don’t be alarmed by the ‘D’ word. You don’t have to eat less to spend less. Here are some tips to save money at the grocery store that will keep you satisfied.
One of the main reasons why you’re overspending at the grocery store is that you aren’t planning your trips properly. When you aren’t organized, you’re liable to buy things you don’t need or items that are too expensive. Disorganized shopping leads to food waste and busted budgets, so make sure you use the following tools to sort yourself out.
- A household budget:This tool helps you find out what you can realistically afford on food each week. If you’re making one on your own, consider the 80-20 Rule. This technique reserves 20 percent of your income for savings and debt reduction. The remaining 80 percent covers everything else, including your groceries. It will take some time to figure out how to distribute 80 percent of income between categories of spending, but it’s a worthwhile exercise. Once you’ve balanced your budget, you’ll know how much you can spend on groceries each week without jeopardizing other parts of your budget.
- A meal plan:Even when you know how much you should spend on groceries, it’s all too easy to spend over this limit when you aren’t paying close attention to the groceries in your cart. A meal plan guides your shopping trip because it forces you to think about what you’re going to make for each meal — breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Use the Kitchn’s beginner’s guide to meal planning to help you create your first one. Once you have a list of ingredients in your hand, you can shop with focus—giving you a better chance at avoiding impulsive additions to your cart.
Use your phone to find deals
If you’re only using your phone to check the business hours of your local supermarket, then you’re wasting its full potential as a grocery tool. The Google Play Store and App Store are full of shopping apps targeted for foodies on a budget, as well as a variety of generic shopping apps that can help you save. Between rebates and couponing apps, these mobile tools can help you spend less at the till:
- Coupon Apps: Apps like SnipSnap and Yowza have digitized a time-consuming strategy. Instead of having to search through newspapers, clip out coupons, and keep them organized in your folder, all you have to do is sign into your app to find the latest deals. Both SnipSnap and Yowza organize your coupons according to location and expiry date, so you won’t waste any time sharing them with the cashier.
- Comparison Shopping Apps: Never pay more for an item when it’s sold for less in your area. Basket and Grocery Pal are two apps that help you track down sales and other discounts at your favorite retailers, so you can maximize the savings you earn — with or without a coupon.
- Rebate Apps: Once you’ve finished your shopping, you can check in with apps like Checkout 51 and Ibotta to see if your ingredients qualify for a rebate. These apps have special deals with retailers, so you can get cash back or gift cards for items you’ve already purchased.
- Rewards Apps: There are plenty of grocery stores that offer rewards for shopping at their locations. They’re often points that you can redeem for a gift card once you collect enough of them. Make sure you download their rewards points app, so you can earn every point you’re due.
Be prepared for the worst
When you’re on a small budget, even something as simple as grocery shopping can be stressful. Though the above tricks and tips will save you money, they will cost you time as you organize a meal plan that fits your budget every week, then check your apps to find the lowest price.
Just a small change in your routine can upset your new grocery shopping strategy. Let’s say a meeting runs long, so the store’s closed by the time you can shop. If it’s the only day of the week you can grocery shop, you’re now stuck eating takeout to supplement what’s left in your pantry.
These things happen — which is why budgeting for savings is so important. A savings account can cover small unexpected emergencies, but it’s not the only way. If you’re still building up your savings, you can find help from an online cash advance lender. These lenders, including MoneyKey, provide quick access to online short term loans. Because they’re online, you won’t need to make time for an in-person interview to secure your personal loan. All you have to do is visit MoneyKey.com to apply and wait to see if you’re approved. If you are, you’ll receive the cash you need in one business day.
Eating well can be hard to do on a budget, but with the right tools and a commitment to spend less, it shouldn’t cost you a fortune. Think about what and why you’re eating as a way to prevent overspending at the grocery store. When you shop carefully, you can find deals that lower your bill without sacrificing on taste.