Even the most laid-back shoppers have to be money-conscious when shopping for non-essentials — Do I really need another pair of black sandals? Will I ever wear these pants again? — unless you want to watch your bank account be drained faster than your Monday morning cup of coffee. But when it comes to grocery shopping, concerns of overspending are more easily forgotten. You need food to live after all. It's not like you love spending your hard earned money on almond milk and bags of salad greens.
But even when you're shopping for the necessities, it pays to be thoughtful about your spending, so give these tips a try to get your costs under control:
Beware of Bulk
There is no thrill quite like heading to Costco and leaving with tons of food at a fraction of the cost of a normal grocery store. But if that food is rotting or going stale because you can't finish it all or get sick of eating it, then you could potentially be spending less by buying fewer things at a higher cost from your regular grocery store.
Buy In Season Only
Fruits and veggies make almost everybody's shopping list, but it's easy to forget that not all produce is a good use of your money. When you're meal planning, target in-season produce to avoid cost markups associated with the out-of-season stuff.
BYOB: Bring Your Own Bag
Stores in many cities have started charging customers for every paper bag they use. It's usually a small amount, like 10 cents, but that tiny cost eventually adds up. Make sure to bring your own tote bags with you to help your wallet — and the environment.
Portion Your Own Grab-and-Go Snacks
Individual serving-sized bags of chips, cut up apples, nuts and other snacks are great for snacking and carrying with you to work, but the convenience cost of having somebody else portion your food adds up. Instead, buy the full-sized box or bag and sort your own to-go servings into plastic bags or tupperware. It will take you more time and is less convenient, but your wallet will thank you.
Put Your Smartphone to Work
The decline of the newspaper has also brought about the decline of coupon cutting. If you don't get the Sunday paper, don't think you have to miss out on all of the deals. Many of your favorite stores have coupon apps or digital coupons that you can download. In fact many times the coupons are customized based off your purchase history. Make sure to bring your smartphone along with you on your next grocery run and start downloading some savings.