When we first moved to New Jersey, one of the hardest things for me to adjust to was the raise in food costs. On some foods, it was a 60% increase compared to what I was used to, shocking me and my pocketbook when it came to feeding myself and my husband. Where $300 a month for healthy food and snacks was easy in Kentucky, we were suddenly spending up to $600, something that completely blew my mind. Until we moved here, I didn’t really plan grocery shopping, I just based what I was making for the week on what looked good and that was it. Now, I have had to be a bit more frugal, learning how to save on groceries and keep both of us eating healthy!
How to Save on Groceries: Planning
Planning for a grocery trip was once very foreign to me. I only made a list if I was making something special, and that was about it. Now, I make a list of what I need before going to the store, and usually plan my entire shopping around healthy foods that fit in our budget. One of the ways I have learned how to save on groceries is also cutting back on meat. Rather than have meat every night during the week, we have it two or three times a week, and only in meals that can easily be made into leftovers that my husband can bring to work.
How to Save on Groceries: Perimeter Shopping
Another way to save money and be healthier is to shop the perimeter of the store first. All of the essentials you need for eating healthy are on the outer walls of the store including dairy products, meats, and vegetables. I always skip the bakery section and go straight to the veggie section. By filling up the cart with fruits and veggies first, I find I am saving money by avoiding expensive, processed items that are mostly high in calories. As well, natural food sections are usually off in their own area, which can easily be found while you are shopping the perimeter. As a rule of thumb, always come back and get ingredients for seasoning and flavor at the end of the trip. With cold items in your cart, you are more likely to rush to the checkout afterward – saving money and cutting out the calories!
How to Save on Groceries: Store Sales & Coupons
If you want to know how to save on groceries, two of the best tips you will get from many people online are to shop by the weekly sales, and to coupon match. By looking on stores’ websites and writing to the companies, it can be easier than you might think to get coupons for all of your favorite natural brands and drinks. By combining these coupons with store sales, it is easy to save a few bucks.
Just be careful with coupon shopping – there are a few pitfalls to look out for. Most coupons are for high sugar, fatty foods that are not at the perimeter of the store. Also, if you aren’t going to use the product, you don’t need clip or print the coupon out, even if it’s free! Remember, too, that coupons are a marketing tool for companies – they get exposure for their products and people are more likely to buy items if they think they are getting a deal, even if they wouldn’t use the product normally. This means you are likely to spend more on your grocery trip in the center of the store, (instead of the perimeter), potentially leading to even more purchases you didn’t need! If you are coupon shopping, make sure to have a list and a mission first to make sure you don’t spend extra money!