It’s easy to spend more than intended at the grocery store — especially right now, when you’re stocking up and trying to limit your trips out in public. To avoid unnecessary purchases, maximize your budget, and make the most of all you do pack into your cart, follow these tips.
1. Don’t go shopping when you’re hungry. You’re far more likely to pick up extra items on a whim or make decisions that go against your healthy-eating goals when your stomach is growling.
2. Plan your meals for the next week or more before you go to the store. Weekly meal plans help you understand exactly what you’ll need, so you can create — and stick to — your list.
3. Review what’s on sale and take time to comparison shop. Browse the print or online coupons from your favorite stores. See what’s being discounted for the week, and if you can, plan your meals around those items. If they are foods that store well, stock up on while the price is lower. If you’re trying to limit your shopping to one location, you can call customer service and ask if they’d consider price matching the discount being offered by another store.
4. Buy frozen produce in family-size portions or purchase fresh only when it’s in season.Flash-frozen vegetables and fruit last longer and often offer similar nutritional value as fresh produce because it’s packaged shortly after harvest. If you’re running out of freezer room or just want to have some fresh items on hand, opt for in-season options — it typically costs less than off-season produce. You can also extend your dollar by stocking up on fresh while it’s still in season and freezing the extra to use later. Choose whole-cut produce whenever you can — it tends to be less expensive than pre-cut or pre-bagged produce.
5. Choose bulk for grains, nuts, and seeds. These items last a long time and can be purchased and stored in larger quantities — saving you money in the long run.
6. Consider supplements. While you want to aim for most of your diet to be composed of whole foods, protein powder can be a great way to meet your protein needs at breakfast or any time you need something quick and easy. It’s also cost-effective: Many Life Time protein powders run $2 or less per serving.
7. Research a membership at a wholesale club. Take a look at the membership pricing, as well as which of your shopping staples and daily-use items are available to buy in bulk at lower prices. You can save significantly on oils, proteins, eggs, frozen foods, and other grocery and household items.
8. Use your leftovers. Have extra meat from last night’s dinner? Make it the protein source for today’s salad. When you have extra portions of meats, soups, or casseroles, consider freezing them instead of refrigerating them. They’ll last longer that way and are just as easy to grab, heat, and eat when you need a quick meal.
9. Invest in a vacuum sealer. This appliance is great for food preservation, such as freezing meat and leftovers, and it allows you to buy more of these items and preserve them when they’re on sale.
10. Order your groceries online. If you tend to make impulse purchases or know you’re easily swayed by marketing or sale prices on items you don’t actually need, online grocery shopping may be a good option for you. Another way to curb the last-minute buys? Shop only with the cash you need. Leave your credit or debit card at home, so you really can’t go over what you budgeted to spend.