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The average family spends more than $1,300 a month on groceries. And now that we’re all quarantined at home, that bill could be growing even more. Luckily, you can feed your family for less with a few simple tips. To the rescue: pro tips to save BIG!
Head to the market on your own.
“One study found that single shoppers purchase 65 percent fewer items than they do when shopping with family members. Also smart? Use the self-checkout to save big. Other research shows that impulse buys dropped by 32 percent when shoppers skipped the staffed checkout aisle and scanned their items themselves.” —Steve Economides, co-founder of MoneySmartFamily.com
Bulk up on meat.
“One of the smartest ways to save on meat is to buy in bulk. Even smarter: Reconsider portion sizes. Say ground beef costs $5 per pound and you buy a 5-lb. pack for $25. At home, divide it into 3/4-lb. portions. You’ll never miss the 1⁄4 lb. of meat when you use it in soup, spaghetti sauce or tacos, but you’ll get an extra meal out of it!” —Stephanie Nelson, founder of CouponMom.com
Try ‘flash frozen’ seafood and save.
“Remember that flash frozen fish is fresher than fresh fish, and it costs less. The term means the fish is frozen right on the boat, so you won’t find it any fresher. At the fish counter, the fish sits on a tray and rests in water, which makes the fish taste fishy and also adds to the weight.” —Teri Gault, author of Shop Smart, Save More.
Circle back for ‘impulse’ buys.
“Don’t let the marketing people get you enticed about products. Displays and demos often translate into triple or quadruple sales of whatever we are sampling in our stores, but the truth is, you may not really need that item. So my advice is to not put the item in your cart right then. Shop around, and if you really want it, go back for it. Most of the time, you realize you don’t need it, and you’ll save quite a bit of money.” —Stew Leonard Jr., CEO of the Stew Leonard Group.
Save 70 percent with a list.
“Always plan a shopping list and menu. It can cut 30 percent to 50 percent off your bill. Just read the ads to see what’s on sale and incorporate ‘loss leaders’ in your menu. These are items that are sold at such a low price (to lure you into the store) that the store loses money on them. They’re usually advertised on the front of the circular. So if chicken breast is on sale, plan several meals around chicken, like salad, stir-fry, and sandwiches. You can save 60 percent to 70 percent off that food for the week.” —Annette Economides, co-founder of MoneySmartFamily.com
Get pantry staples at health-food stores.
“Head to the natural-food store to stock up on liquids such as olive oil, maple syrup and honey. These items are often offered for sale minus the packaging, so you can easily save 30 percent. Bring your own container—you can weigh it and write the weight on the container, so the cashier can subtract that from the total weight. Then you just get the amount you need from big vats of your desired product, which helps cut down on costs. Spices are also sold by the ounce in these places. You can save up to 90 percent by getting them in the bulk bin!” —Stephanie Nelson
Focus on the ‘big’ deals in store circulars.
“Get smart about circulars. The best deals are almost always the largest ones on the page—take it from me, I worked in print advertising. Most of the best sales are on the front and back pages. Just like the grocery store itself, the inner pages of the ads are filled with packaged food and about 2⁄3 of them are actually the regular price! Scan the outside of the ads to figure out if anything is worth a trip to the store.” —Valerie Cudnik, money-saving blogger at DollyDomestic.com
Stock up on dairy.
“When it comes to buying dairy, stock up when the price is low and then freeze anything you won’t use immediately. This allows you to take advantage of good prices on staples like milk, mozzarella, and Cheddar cheese. Yes, you can freeze cheese! Just cut it into smaller portions and place in tightly sealed plastic bags, then defrost as needed. It’s also a good idea to look for leftover cheese ends. Your deli counter should have some. They are often sold at deeply discounted prices, like 60 percent off, and they are perfect for grating over pasta or making cheese sauce for dishes like mac and cheese.” —Sara Lundberg, author of Budget Savvy Diva’s Guide to Slashing Your Grocery Bill by 50% or More.
This article originally appeared in our print magazine.