Top 7 Ways to Cut Grocery Costs

One of the easiest ways to cut costs and save money is to cut your grocery budget. Yes, you have to eat, but there are plenty of options. It is the one are of your budget that you can manage to the very cent without starving. Everyday for the next week I am going to share one of the top seven ways to cut your grocery costs.

No. 1. Cash
To stick to your grocery budget (and who doesn't?) the easiest and most effective way is to move to cash budget. Good old fashioned notes and coins. It will save you a heap of money, ensure you only buy what you need and stop those impulse purchases on the spot. You will have total and complete control of your grocery budget, without the emotional and psychological pulls of a credit card. If you haven't tried it, I recommend that you do. You'll be amazed at the power you have over your spending. 

No. 2. Watch those sales
It is unbelievable how much money you can save by watching the sale cycles! My rule of thumb as far as non-urgent items is if the item isn’t on sale..I will not use buy it unless I know for sure that I will need it before the next sale or before the next shopping day.  If you don't want to shop the sale cycles, check the loss leaders each week. Loss leaders are the items supermarkets mark way down to get you into the store to buy other overpriced items, usually located at the ends of the aisles.

No. 3. Menu planning
Knowing what you are going to prepare for dinner and writing down all of the ingredients you need from the supermarket will not only keep your grocery budget on track , but it will save you unnecessary trips which inevitably end up with you impulse shopping and spending more in the process.  It also avoids the “It’s 4pm and I have no idea what is for dinner!” urge to pick up takeaway or eat out. With a menu plan you will end up with more time, less stress and more money. Doesn’t get any better than that!

No. 4. Use that shopping list
That is why you made it, so stick to it!  If it's not on the list, don't buy it. The only exception would be for something you know you need but haven't listed and that you don't have a substitute for already at home or on the list. You have already switched to a cash grocery budget so adding things that are not on the list is going to blow your budget out of the water and possibly leave you embarrassed at the checkout.

No. 5. Bigger isn't always cheaper
Buying in bigger packages isn’t always cheaper, so make sure that you are getting the best deal. Unit pricing helps you compare brands and package sizes to find the cheapest price but for stores who don't show unit prices carry a small calculator or use the calculator function on your mobile phone and work it out yourself.  And remember a “sale” isn’t always a sale.

No. 6. Ditch the store loyalty
This obviously isn’t feasible for everybody, but it is something that you should think about. Most of us live within easy access of the three major supermarkets (Coles, Woolworths and Aldi) and at least one or two of the smaller independents. Shopping only at one supermarket will cost you money.  To follow the sales cycle you need to be prepared to shop multiple stores to get the lowest prices and best deals.  Shopping multiple stores will give you a better idea of prices and a better idea of what a good sale price is. You don’t need to always shop at multiple shops, but it does pay to at least divide your shopping between the two biggest in your area.

For country Cheapskates, shopping locally can be expensive simply because of the lack of competition. If it is at all possible consider doing a big shop in your nearest big town once every four or five weeks and stocking up.

No. 7. Use your price book
The concept of a price book is most likely new to you. It's not something we Australians have used as a part of living the Cheapskates way until recently. But it sure makes shopping and saving money easy. Simply by recording the price of every item you buy in a little notebook, you have a ready reckoner of just where you'll be able to get the very best price. When you buy an item record the price. Then, when you go to buy that item again, check your price book. If the price is lower, buy it and record the cost in your price book. If it's higher then you'll need to decide if you need it immediately or can wait until it is on sale. When you make up your shopping list, write down beside the item how much it costs (based on the price book) and  tally it up at the end. This will help you stay within your grocery budget.