Feel like you’re spending more than ever at the grocery store? According to the budgeting app Mint.com, $150 to $300 is the average people are spending on food per person, per month. And it doesn’t help that the cost of groceries recently had the biggest 12-month increase in more than 40 years. As a result, more shoppers are looking for deals and trying to stretch their budgets.
And it turns out, we’ve developed some “bad” habits that are hiking up our grocery bills. According to Joel Larsgaard, half of the “How To Money” podcast about personal finance, this is what we need to stop doing so we can feed ourselves for less.
- Going to the wrong store - “Where you shop makes a big difference,” Joel says. So it’s worth checking out places like Trader Joe’s or Aldi to find discounts on pantry items that may cost you more at more expensive stores.
- Shopping without a plan - If you don’t plan your meals, you may be aimlessly shopping and that leads to buying things you don’t actually need. But on the flip side, making a menu and buying the ingredients you need for those meals can help you save, especially if you let the stores’ sale flyers guide your menu planning.
- Not using curbside pickup - Ordering online for curbside pickup isn’t just convenient, it’s a good way to stay focused on your shopping. When you’re inside the store, you may be tempted by end cap displays and sales on items you didn’t go there to buy, but that doesn’t happen when you stay in your car and just pick up your order.
- Going heavy on meat and dairy - prices are up in all food categories, but especially meat and dairy, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s Food Price Index. So cutting down on animal products is better for our wallets, as well as our health and it’s good for the planet, too.
- The name brand reflex - Larsgaard points out that people are prone to reach for name-brand items at the supermarket, but opting for store brands can save you between 20% and 40%. Those are often the same quality, plus some stores offer money-back guarantees if you’re not happy with them, so it’s worth giving them a try.