Groceries are NOT a fixed household expense

A lot of people assume that the monthly grocery bill is one of those expenses in the home that just is what it is. A most common refrain is this: “We’re a family of four. We spend $1,200 a month on groceries no matter what we do… More if we’re hosting. That’s just what it costs to feed us and we’re not willing to compromise on quality.”

We all have a unique approach when it comes to grocery shopping. Some shop ‘in and out’ with a list they don’t stray from. Others wander down every isle looking for good deals. Others see grocery shopping as an opportunity to explore new ideas, cultures and satisfy their creativity in the kitchen. Regardless of how you shop, there are some great ideas to help you save anywhere from 10% to 30% on your grocery bill. If you’re able to save $60 a week, that’s equivalent to saving over $3,000 in a year!

It’s definitely something to explore if you’d like to have other plans for your hard-earned money.

I’ve scanned dozens of articles and blogs for the ‘Best of the Best’ when it comes to grocery bill saving tips, and talked with hundreds of clients about grocery shopping. Some of these ideas won’t fit your style. Others you may want to try. Here is the bottom half of my Top 12 List:

#12. Shop at more than one grocer. Easier said than done for most busy folk, but even a monthly run to your Giant Tiger, No Frills or Valumart will save you a lot. If you know your prices you will be amazed that the every-day prices at these and other discount grocers are often better than your primary grocer’s sales – for the exact same brands.

#11. Look at flyers even if it’s only the front pages. If you want to save 50% or more on your meat purchases stick to the rotating meat deals found on the front pages of your local flyers each week. If you see there is a limit on the number of items you are allowed at a certain price (and you have a freezer) stock up! These could be loss leaders just to get you in the store, so take advantage.

#10. Bulk up on ‘for sale’ items. For those who shop without a list, or who are open to shopping beyond the list, there are deals to be had. Two watch-outs though: Only bulk up if you will definitely use the product before it expires. And beware: A sale is not always a sale, so have an idea of what your regular prices are for certain items before stocking up.

#9. Use your leftovers (creatively). If you typically prepare more food than you eat, save the leftovers. Tupperware was made for this purpose. Then, rather than starting a lunch on the weekend from scratch, use dinner left-overs from the week and enjoy them warmed-up. Minimizing waste is a key factor in keeping food bills down. If your fruit is a little past its prime, make a nice smoothie by mixing plain yogurt with it. Yummy and healthy.

#8. Try the no-name or store label brands before you reject the idea of them. Some products just may not be to your standards, but others are essentially the exact same ingredients at a 25% discount. In our home, the private label applesauce does the trick just fine, but the mayonnaise must be the name brand. Every home will be different. Some manufacturers have been found to be putting the EXACT same product into different branded packages – and marking them up based on the brand. It’s worth the time to read the ingredients, and giving no-name products a chance.

#7. Always look at the price per unit (eg. $/g), to make sure you are getting the best value. Often the medium-sized packages are the best value (vs. the largest). Don’t ask me why. If you’re shopping with children of just about any age it can be fun to talk about what you are buying and why. Looking at ingredients for nutritional value, and freshness of produce are important but not checking for VALUE (price per amount) is like throwing money away.

Return in a couple of weeks for the top half of the ‘Best of the Best’ grocery bill saving tips, or sign up to receive bi-weekly financial blog posts in your in-box by registering on my website.

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