It’s not your imagination. Feeding your family has never been an inexpensive endeavor, but if you’ve noticed that the price of food (and especially eggs) has skyrocketed, you’re not alone. Food prices have doubled and even tripled in some instances. So even if you’re trying your best to stick to a budget, you’ll need other ways to save on your grocery bill so that you can make meals for your family and (hopefully) still have a little money left over.
So why are grocery prices so high? Chalk it up to post-pandemic demand, supply chain shortages that are still being felt even today, unfavorable weather conditions that have adversely affected crops, and even the war in Ukraine, which have all attributed to rising grocery prices. All that means that the dozen grade A eggs that used to cost around $3 now can cost $6 or more.
If you’re looking for a lifeline when you’re on the checkout line, these ways to save on your grocery bill can help.
Know The Right Time To Shop
You run into the supermarket after work to pick up some bread for your kid’s PB&J sammies. But going to the store so late might mean you’ll miss out on some important sales, according to Starr Wells, a budgeting expert. “One of the best ways to save money on groceries is to get to know the right time of day to shop and the sale cycles of your favorite grocery stores,” she says. “For most, the best time to go grocery shopping is right when the store opens because it’s when they mark down meats and produce items that are getting ready to expire.” In the case of most grocery items, they can be frozen until they’re ready to use, even if they are days away from expiring.
Learn The Sales Cycle
Even though it might seem like your kid’s favorite mac n’ cheese goes on sale so infrequently, it turns out that stores have a certain sales cycle that they stick to — and learning it can equal big savings. “Grocery stores have 6/7 week sales cycles,” says Wells. “Try to keep in mind when non-perishable items go on sale and stock up until they go on sale again.” You can make a quick note on your phone to keep track or add it to your calendar so that you never miss a sale — or a chance to stock up.
Sure, you might be used to a certain brand of pasta sauce, but chances are the store brand will taste just as good … if not better when you consider the potential savings. “Look at the store brand condiment that is sitting next to the name-brand one before you pick it up,” Andrea Smith, a financial advisor and CEO/Founder of Master Manchester explains. “These choices typically cost much less and have the same fundamental components.” How much can you save by buying the store brand? It’s estimated that you stand to save up to 25%, which can add up to significant savings.
Don’t Shop When You’re Hungry
One of the biggest mistakes you can make when food shopping is going on an empty stomach. Suddenly, those buttery croissants are calling your name, even though you have breakfast items in your pantry for the rest of the week. “Research demonstrates that when you’re hungry, you buy more things including things that aren’t healthy food!” says Smith. “When you shop when you’re starving, you’re more likely to make impulse buys, which are usually more expensive and generally less healthy, and are processed or packaged foods.”
Use A Basket
It’s nice to lean on a wagon while you’re weaving up and down the grocery store aisles. But by maneuvering a big cart, you might be more tempted to fill it with items you don’t really need. Smith agrees, adding, “Those shopping carts are there for a reason.” If you’re only going to the store for a few things, stroll past the shopping wagons and stick to something smaller in size. “Don’t invest in a larger cart until you absolutely have to; instead, start with a basket or mini cart,” she says. “You won’t have to make impulsive purchases that you most likely don’t need.”
Peruse Your Pantry
Before you even step foot into a store, you should take some time to look through your pantry. Why? Well, going through your pantry (as well as your fridge and freezer) helps you determine what you already have so that you don’t buy duplicates. It can also help you meal plan, as you see what ingredients you already have on hand to make a meal, advises Jake Hill, CEO of DebtHammer. “Apps from food websites like Allrecipes and Epicurious can suggest recipes based on what’s in your refrigerator,” he says.
Learn How To Meal Plan
If you’ve ever experienced the witching hour with a hangry toddler, you know that it’s better to have some meals prepared ahead of time. Not only does meal planning potentially prevent a tantrum from your 2-year-old, it can also help you save at the store, too. “The key to saving on your food bills is to plan your meals in advance,” says Dennis Shirshikov, a financial expert and Head of Growth at Awning.com. “By creating a weekly menu and shopping only for the ingredients you need, you can avoid buying excess items that will go to waste.”
Although food prices seem to have temporarily stabilized, that doesn’t mean that they’re coming down anytime soon. By using some of these money-saving tips, you’ll be able to buy the foods that your family likes without the stress of constant scrimping. And that’s a total *chef’s kiss*.