How to Stretch Your Dollar at the Grocery Store
As prices continue to rise due to inflation and other factors, it’s difficult not to notice the increase in prices at the grocery store. According to a study by Ramsey Solutions, 82% of American consumers noticed higher grocery prices. Just over the last year, prices for groceries rose 7% – the largest 12-month increase since 1981 [1,2]. Let’s take a moment to see how much the average person spends on groceries and conclude with money-saving tips you can bring with you to the grocery store.
Grocery bills can add up over the course of a year. We are all guilty of going into the grocery store with a “list” and end up leaving having spent far more than we anticipated! In the United States, the average person spends about 60 hours grocery shopping per year, while spending between $2,400 to over $4,000 on groceries. Grocery shopping is unavoidable, but there are ways we can effectively limit our spending [3,4]!
How do we save money amidst rising grocery prices?
- Order Online and Pick Up: The increasing amount of businesses offering curbside pickup over the last few years has been an incredible advantage for shopping experiences. Ordering curbside pickup at the grocery store specifically, not only saves time from endlessly browsing aisles at the store, but saves MONEY. Online shopping makes comparing prices easier and takes away the probability of impulse buying. Also, shopping from the comfort of your home eliminates the likelihood of purchasing items you already have, as you are steps away from the pantry to double check! Most stores provide free curbside pickup, but check your local store to see if there is a small fee.
- Buy Beef in Bulk: If you’re a big meat eater, consider buying a whole or half cow from your local farm. Store it in your freezer and it will last you a while! While ground beef prices are comparable to grocery store prices, you save big on cuts like roasts and steaks. To break it down, by buying from a local farm you’re getting about $7 per pound for ground beef, which is about the same at the grocery, but you’re also getting $7 for strip steak, which is about $14 less than grocery store prices! Check out your local farmer’s market for more information and to find a farm near you. 
- Meal Prep and Plan: When we go to the store without a plan, we often end up leaving with far more than we need or end up eating. Consider meal prepping for the week and create a grocery list based on your scheduled meals. The key is to stick to your list! Knowing what you are going to cook ahead of time eliminates purchasing food that will potentially go uneaten throughout the week and end up going bad.
- Don’t Shop with Kids (or Other Over Spenders!): Who you shop with has a huge effect on how you shop. Grocery shopping with your kids (or maybe an overspending spouse) can lead to unnecessary purchases. Impulse buying is inevitable while shopping with children, especially if they come hungry. Simply put, you may need to leave the kids at home.
- Eat Before You Shop: We all know what it’s like grocery shopping on an empty stomach. Any sort of plan or grocery list goes out the window. The difference in spending is immense. Be intentional when deciding when you shop!
- Learn to Shop Sales/Coupon: Search online for coupons and deals before heading to your local store. Planning your meals for things that are on sale or have a coupon can really help you save!
- Generic/Store Brand: Although you may feel the need to stick with the “well-known” or trusted brand, the store brands or generic versions of foods are often cheaper, and just as high quality. Store brands typically cost anywhere from a few cents to a few dollars cheaper, and this really adds up.
- Don’t Fear the Frozen Aisle: Oftentimes, we equate the “freshest” food with the foods that are chilled and on display in the front. However, there are plenty of “fresh” options in the frozen foods aisle as well. These foods are often picked at peak ripeness and then flash frozen to be packaged. This helps ensure nutrient density. If the produce isn’t in season, you can often find it cheaper in the frozen aisle.
- DIY Ingredients: While it may be convenient to purchase shredded cheese or already chopped vegetables, it isn’t always the cheapest. Buy these foods unadulterated, and prepare them yourself.
In order to have success with food savings, intentionality and consistency are KEY. These small habits can make a big difference in your budget and help alleviate the weight of rising prices. Try implementing these tips the next time you do your grocery shopping!
- Consumer price index-March 2022 – Bureau of Labor Statistics. (n.d.). Retrieved April 26, 2022, from https://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/cpi.pdf
- Ramsey Solutions. (2021, December 2). The state of Personal Finance 2021 Q3. Ramsey Solutions. Retrieved April 26, 2022, from https://www.ramseysolutions.com/budgeting/state-of-personal-finance-2021-q3-research
- Milena, & *, N. (2021, December 31). Average food cost per month in 2022. Balancing Everything. Retrieved April 26, 2022, from
https://balancingeverything.com/average-food-cost-per-month/#:~:text=About%2020%20 jurisdictions%2C%20including%20Kansas,goes%20between%20%24266%20and%20% 24300.
- McDowell, E. (2019, July 9). Here’s what the average person spends on groceries annually in every State. Business Insider. Retrieved April 26, 2022, from https://www.businessinsider.com/what-people-spend-annually-on-groceries-in-every-state -2019-7
- National Monthly Grass Fed beef report agricultural … (n.d.). Retrieved April 26, 2022, from https://www.ams.usda.gov/mnreports/lsmngfbeef.pdf
This article is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not, nor is it intended to be substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.