Most families would like to save money at the grocery store and shopping the sales and using coupons is a great place to start. However, here are some examples of hidden costs at the supermarket you may not realize you are wasting your money on.
When my family went down to one income so that I could stay home with my son, I worked really hard to cut out any extra expenses at the grocery store.
Are you aware of these examples of hidden costs in a supermarket?
1. Individual Servings
Think about the foods that you buy on a regular basis that come in individual portions. Often the culprit here is snack foods such as small bags of chips, cookies, crackers, applesauce cups, dried fruit, and juice drinks. Those items are incredibly convenient, but you could save a huge amount of money by dividing up the portions yourself!
Buy the big bag of chips or boxes of crackers and put them in small plastic bags for your family’s lunches. Instead of buying juice boxes, buy bottled juice and pour into to-go cups that don’t leak. I love my son’s Bubba kid’s water bottle.
Instead of buying small cups of yogurt, purchase the bigger tubs and spoon out individual portion into small bowls. Make a big bowl of pudding and divide it up into individual portions instead of buying small snack cups.
2. Prepared Foods
One of the first things I did to cut the grocery budget was to start making things from scratch. I have saved hundreds, maybe even thousands, by simply making foods that we regularly eat from scratch. I make our own sweet tea, cookies, muffins, pancakes, and sauces. Before purchasing something, I like to look up a recipe for it online.
What is something you buy on a regular basis that you could start making yourself? Start small, and continue to try new things. Before you know it, you will be saving lots of money by making foods yourself!
You may be paying extra simply for convenience. One example is shredded cheese. Instead of buying shredded cheese, start buying block cheese and shred it yourself. You will be amazed at how much more you are able to get from an 8 oz block of cheese compared to an 8 oz bag of shredded cheese!
Minute rice is another convenient food that can cost you big time. However, if you purchase long grain rice in 5 or 10 pound bags, you can serve many meals and only spend a few dollars.
As you do your grocery shopping, think about each item before you place it in the cart. Are you paying extra for convenience? If you are, then find an alternative and save the difference.
Frozen fruit and vegetables are a great alternative to fresh produce. You can often purchase them on sale and stock up your freezer for weeks or months worth of produce.
When you do purchase fresh produce, make sure you aren’t paying extra for already cut up and prepared food. Buy the whole watermelon and cut it up yourself. Get the bag of unpeeled carrots, peel and cut them yourself and store in water to retain crispness.
Another way to save on produce is to buy already bagged fruits and vegetables instead of loose produce. Apples, oranges, peppers, and potatoes are all cheaper by the bag rather than by the pound.
5. Extra Food
Are you using up all of the food that you bring home? Many times people throw out produce that goes bad, leftovers they don’t eat, or expired food that is buried deep in the pantry. Here are some ways to help.
- Plan for all of your meals including sides and snacks before you go shopping. Make a list of only the items you need for the week and stick to the list.
- If your family doesn’t like leftovers, freeze the leftovers and have them a few weeks later. Heating up leftovers on the stove or in the oven helps make the leftovers taste much better than reheating in the microwave.
- Produce that is about to go bad can be frozen and used later in casseroles, pasta salads, smoothies, or muffins.
- Plan to eat from the freezer and pantry one week each month before getting more groceries. That way you are eating the food that you already have and are not buying excess.
Keep these tips in mind while grocery shopping, and you may find even more ways that you can save each week!
What is one thing from this list that is costing you money? Cut it out of your grocery budget this week.
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