Tips for Tackling Inflation at the Grocery Store
According to the latest Consumer Price Index (CPI), prices are still about 8.5% higher than the past 12 months. Next to the gas pump, the grocery store is the primary place consumers have been feeling the pinch. Just about everyone is interested in hot to save money on groceries these days. Luckily, there are specific steps you can take to eat well without breaking your budget during this period of inflation. Follow these 11 tips for saving money on groceries to keep your food shopping bill within budget.
1. Plan Meals Ahead of Time
Meal planning and prepping can save you money by reducing food waste and eliminating last-minute takeout purchases. Choose meals that use some of the same ingredients for the most efficient grocery shopping.
To succeed with meal planning, set aside time each week to choose that week’s meals and grocery shop for ingredients. Depending on your schedule, you may also want to cook or prep meals for the week on the same day, too. You can eat leftovers for lunch or plan separate lunch meals.
If planning meals is not your strength, you can find free meal plans or purchase them inexpensively online. Even paying a modest fee for your meal plans should still help you save money in the long run if it streamlines your grocery list and reduces or eliminates your reliance on prepared and restaurant meals.
2. Make a List and Stick to It
You may have heard the advice to not go grocery shopping on an empty stomach. But even when you’re not hungry, a grocery store is full of potential impulse purchases that can inflate your total bill. So, make a list and stick to it, avoiding whatever may seem tempting on the front-end displays.
Put your blinders on when you’re in the store and focus only on purchasing the items you have on your list, reminding yourself that this is everything you need, and you don’t need anything extra. This will help keep you on budget and keep you from overspending.
Another way to stick to your list is to order groceries online. Yes, you may have to pay a delivery fee or tip. However, if you know you’re prone to unplanned purchases, or if you have to take your kids with you and they try to throw extras into your cart, online grocery shopping may be a net positive for your budget.
3. Cook Vegetarian
Have you heard of Meatless Mondays? You don’t have to change your diet completely to save money on groceries. Simply swapping one or two meat-centric meals a week with vegetarian recipes can make a noticeable difference in your grocery budget. This is because meat has always been the most expensive part of a meal and particularly during this inflationary period. In contrast, vegetarian proteins are much cheaper, especially beans when you buy them dry and cook them yourself.
4. Try Discount Grocers
Is there a discount grocery store like Aldi, Grocery Outlet, or something similar near you? Also known as limited-assortment grocery stores, you can save money on most or all of your grocery list. While these stores don’t offer as many products or brands as conventional grocers, they do offer lower prices on fruit and produce, meats and dairy, and dry goods. If you choose relatively simple recipes, you can likely find all the ingredients you need at a discount grocer.
5. Start Couponing
Don’t forget about manufacturer and store coupons to help bring costs down at the grocery store. It may take a little more time and planning, but the savings are worth it and can be significant.
In addition to cutting out paper coupons, make sure you shop with a store rewards card (if your grocer of choice offers one) to get discounts on certain items and to earn rewards or points toward additional coupons and discounts.
Finally, there are also great couponing and cash back apps out there to help you save even more on groceries like Ibotta, SnipSnap, and Coupons.com. These apps are linked to your checking account, so you don’t need a credit card to earn cash back.
6. Join a CSA
Community Supported Agriculture is a subscription model that supports smaller farmers while delivering weekly boxes of fresh produce to CSA members. As a result, you can enjoy organic produce at lower prices than you’d pay at the store. Just remember that the contents of your CSA box are seasonal, so be prepared to incorporate several zucchinis into a week’s worth of meals.
7. Plan Your Shopping Around Sales
As part of your weekly meal planning routine, look at weekly flyers and promotions to choose recipes that incorporate the on-sale items. If you spot something on sale that you usually purchase, such as a certain laundry detergent or shampoo brand, you may want to stock up now while the item is on sale, saving yourself money over the long run.
8. Buy in Bulk
In return for an annual membership, bulk retailers like Costco and BJ’s offer savings on bulk purchases of just about anything you can think of, from produce and frozen foods to household goods and clothing. You can expect your grocery bill to be higher upfront, but then you’ll realize savings over the long-term as you make fewer trips to the grocery store. Bulk shopping is an especially good idea for large families who can go through an entire crate of peaches, for example, before they go bad.
9. Rethink Your Produce
Fresh produce often has a higher price point than the same vegetable frozen or canned. And there is little nutritional difference between eating your fruits and veggies fresh, frozen, or canned. Switching from fresh to frozen or canned produce can also help extend the shelf life of your food purchases, eliminating food waste and giving you a head start on next week’s meal plan.
10. Switch To the Store Brand
The packaging, options, and quality of store brands has come a long way. These days, many store-branded items are barely distinguishable from their name-brand counterparts. So, it’s a no-brainer way to save money on groceries by purchasing the store brand option on things like pasta, grains, beans, canned items, frozen items, and more whenever possible.
11. Use a Cash Back Credit Card
When you pay for your groceries with a cash back credit card, you can earn a percentage of your purchase in cash rewards to be applied to your statement balance, thereby reducing the total you pay for groceries. For example, our Maximum Rewards® Visa Signature® Card offers unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase with no annual fee. As long as you can use your cash back credit card responsibly, without carrying a monthly balance, it’s a convenient way to save money on groceries, gas, and other things you’d be buying anyway.
Ready to Start Growing your Savings with North Cascades?
Since our founding in 1986, North Cascades Bank has strived to meet the needs of our banking community in North Washington. Looking for the best savings accounts in Chelan, WA? Open a Personal Savings or Money Market account online today! Questions? Contact us or visit your nearest branch location. Once you start saving money on groceries, you can put those savings into your account to build an emergency fund or work towards other savings goals.