According to the latest USDA figures, Americans today spend about 7% of their budget on food at home, while a record 47 million Americans received food stamps in 2013. If you’ve ever felt the pinch of a ballooning grocery bill, here are some simple ways to cinch your spending the next time you’re at the supermarket.
- Make a list. Walk in with a shopping list and stick to it. You’ll be amazed at how your planning cuts down on impulse buys.
- Avoid peer pressure. Whether we get more competitive or just mimic others, a crowded store tends to make us buy more. So avoid the busiest shopping days—Thursday to Sunday—and the lure of the crowds.
- Plug in. The soothing music they play through the store’s intercom? It’s meant to slow you down and make you spend more time—and money—in the aisles. Wear headphones and listen to your own upbeat tunes instead to get in and out without overspending.
- Beware the bulk. Don’t fall for the 10–for–$10 promotion on canned food. It entices you to buy in bulk when often there’s no discount whatsoever.
- Buy the steak, get the sizzle. In the mood for steak? Buy a porterhouse, which gives you two prime cuts for the price of one; a filet mignon on the bone and a New York strip on the other side.
- Crunch the numbers. Not all sales are created equal. While “buy one, get the second for half price” may sound like a 50% savings, you’re really only saving 25% per item. You should also look at the unit price (the price per ounce, for example) on the sale sticker to compare the cost of different brands or sizes.
Want more great money-saving tips? Check out 15 ways to save $15 per week.