Grocery Shopping Eating Up Too Much Of Your Budget? Here’s How To Slim Down.

Mom was right about many things when it came to how to lower your food bill — but technology has given her time-tested wisdom a boost.

It’s advice you got from your mother (maybe grandmother): Make a list. Go to the grocery store. Cook in rather than eat out. But it often doesn’t feel that it works…particularly as you watch the haul from the current shopping trip grow exponentially as the cashier (or you) scans our items. You feel defeated leaving each trip to the store with a receipt as long as a scarf and bags full of food you suspect will end up in the trash.

The thing is, your mother (maybe grandmother) was right. Eating in can save big bucks — if you do the proper planning and apply some of the following expert advice as well.

  • Coupon circa 2019. Before you head anywhere near the store prep by looking for coupons. Apps like Flipp provide multiple circulars in one place so it is easy to compare prices and sales against all grocery stores in your area. “You can plan your shopping route based on which stores have the best deals on the grocery items you want to buy,” Andrea Woroch, Consumer Savings, Personal Finance, and Smart Shopping expert, says. Check out TheKrazyCouponLady.com and Coupons.com, too, for more savings opportunities. And listen to Joanie Deamer, the real life Krazy Coupon Lady on the HerMoney podcast.
  • Make that list. Yes, it sounds retro. It’s also necessary. Use Siri or Alexa to help you create it if it makes you feel better. Without a list, you tend to roam and pick up anything that catches your eye, says smart shopping expert Trae Bodge who blogs at TrueTrae.com. With a list, you have a goal and know exactly what should end up in the cart. If you prefer to shop by meal, not by product. If this sounds like you, Bodge says to check out All Recipes Dinner Spinner, an app that allows you to search for your favorite recipes. It will give you the list of ingredients you need to cook the meal and where you can get them for the best price.
  • Be strategic in store. Shop the perimeter of the market before hitting the middle aisles. Grocery stores hide spontaneous sales at the ends of the store that can help you save. And don’t be afraid of generic brands. More often than not they are the same quality as their name brand counterpart but for a much lower price. Also be mindful of what different groups of foods tend to cost. You’ll get the hang of which store has the best produce for the lowest cost and which store is always having sales on dairy products, so be sure to head there for those products, respectively. And steer clear of items at eye level. Bodge warns that grocery stores put products there for a reason: they’re more expensive.
  • Use the outing as a teaching tool for your kids. If your kids are filling the cart with pricey items that you don’t need, turn the shopping trip into a teachable moments. “Instead of letting them grab whatever, give them an opportunity to spend, say, $2 on what they would like to get so they have to figure out the best way to spend [their money],” Bodge says.
  • Consider a shopping service. If grocery shopping takes up more time than you have, consider using a grocery delivery service. You’ll have to pay a delivery fee, but as Woroch notes, it will help you to cut out those impulse purchases and stick to your list. That may net out to a savings.
  • Don’t shop hungry. Last but not least, don’t head to the store on an empty stomach. Mom probably told you that, too, didn’t she?
  • With Rebecca Cohen

    Jean Chatzky

    Jean Chatzky