Grocery costs are up over the past year, but there are still ways to save. Here are ten ideas to save at the checkout.
Although prices at the grocery store have stabilized somewhat, they're still high compared to years past. And with costs looking like they won't be coming down any time soon, you may be wondering how to get that outrageous grocery bill under control.
Of course, you can cut back on quantity a little – maybe you don’t need a bag of chips? But that strategy only gets you so far.
“Food, at its basic level, is not discretionary,” Mark Hamrick, senior economic analyst at Bankrate.com, told CNBC. “That’s the challenging aspect of the circumstances we are in.”
Tips to save
When it comes to saving a buck, you have to be a bit savvy and resourceful. Here’s how smart shoppers tame that grocery bill.
Sure, you can go old-school with scissors and the Sunday paper. But the digital age has made couponing much simpler. You can download the apps for your local supermarkets to score digital coupons. Or, find deals on apps specific for couponing. Apps like Coupons.com, BigBasket, Rakutan, and Saving Star can help you save big bucks.
Make a list and plan your meals
Nothing wastes more money than going to the grocery store without a list or a plan. By having a plan for what you’re going to make for the entire week, you’ll buy what you need and no more.
Don’t shop when you’re hungry
Speaking of impulse buying, don’t shop when your stomach is grumbling. That’s a surefire way to cave to your cravings and, in turn, tack on lots of extra dollars to your bill.
Freeze what can be frozen
Milk, butter, eggs, juice, bread, grated cheese and many other perishable items can be frozen for about four to six months. If you find a deal on, say, milk, buy several cartons and stash most of them away for later (Drain a little out first, or the milk may expand beyond the container when it freezes.) You can also freeze your sliced bread and just thaw a slice when you want it. Goodbye, moldy bread!
Buy frozen instead of fresh
Speaking of freezing, frozen fruits and vegetables have the exact same nutritional value as fresh, and they’ll stay edible for exponentially longer. What’s more, they’re usually cheaper. So instead of buying those berries or broccoli from the produce section, go grab them from the freezer aisle instead.
Buy in bulk (within reason)
Shopping at membership wholesale stores like Costco and Sam’s Club can offer huge savings, especially if you grocery shop for a lot of people, or if you are shopping for a big event. Just make sure you’re not buying huge amounts of something that has potential to go bad before you can finish it all. You can also go in on that membership with a friend or neighbor if you'd like to take advantage of bulk savings but don't have the storage space.
Eat less meat
The cost of meat has skyrocketed over the past couple years, so it can be a particular killer to your grocery bill. Try to reduce the amount of meat you eat. Research “Meatless Mondays” for plenty of delicious meat-free options.
Check the units
This is especially important when buying in bulk. Make sure that the bigger unit indeed offers bigger savings than the smaller size. Don’t worry about doing math – the store has already calculated it for you. Instead of comparing the price of two items, compare the unit price. The lowest unit price is your best deal.
Use what’s in your fridge
Some websites help you work backward when planning a meal. You look in your fridge and pantry, see what you have on hand, type those items into the search engine, and the website comes up with recipes. You may discover a great new dish, and you’ll save food from going to waste. Supercook and MyFridgeFood are two popular recipe-generating websites you can try.
Look into Medicare’s grocery benefit
While Original Medicare does not offer grocery benefits, some Medicare Advantage plans do. Learn more about Medicare plans that can help you with grocery costs.
By investing a little time, you can significantly trim your grocery bill – and hopefully be able to splurge on that bag of chips!
Do you have Medicare questions? We have answers.
When it comes to Medicare, one plan definitely does not fit all. At ClearMatch, it’s our mission to match you to the policy that best serves your unique needs. It’s all we do, and we do it better than anyone. Check out our extensive library of articles for answers to your Medicare questions. Or, compare plans in your area to get started finding the policy that’s right for you.