Your grocery bill can be way too high if you shop wrong. Get it right and you can make some serious savings. So how do you make those savings?
Why pay more for your shopping if you don’t need to?
Many of your bills are fixed, you don’t have any wriggle room in them. Bills such as your mortgage or rent, insurances, utility bills. But what you spend on food can vary enormously.
So let’s look at what you can do to start cutting down on your food costs.
10 Simple Reasons Your Grocery Bill Is So High
1. You’re Going To The Wrong Store
Seriously! There are grocery stores and there are grocery stores. Choose the wrong one and you can end up paying more for the exact same product.
Choose the right one and you can lower your grocery bill right then and there.
Some stores might ‘feel’ nicer than others, but seriously when money is the issue then go with the cheapest store that you can buy your products from.
2. You Are A Slave To Dates
Being a slave to food expiry dates is a sure fire way to keep your grocery bill high. Especially if you also stockpile too much food. There are a variety of different food dates and it’s worth knowing what they are.
Sell by date means just that, when the store will stop selling it. It won’t instantly burst into flames at one minute past midnight nor will it be full of deadly bacteria then. The product is usually good for a few more days.
Use by dates are for food safety and apparently we shouldn’t eat anything which has exceeded it’s use by date.
I’m fussy about use by dates on fish and some meat but less so on other products such as milk, cheese, yogurt. I follow the sniff test on these.
Do what is right for you and your family. I am no expert just someone who was brought up by a Mother who was into extreme frugality.
I was given food past it’s expiry date and food which had mould cut off it (thanks Mum!)
Best before dates – again think of the wording here, best before doesn’t mean it’s off the following day, it just might (might) not be quite as good as before.
Crisps might not be quite so crisp but still tasty a week after their best before date.
We recently ate crisps 8 months after their best before date and they tasted exactly the same as if they were in date. They also hadn’t lost any of their crispness.
Crisps don’t usually last long in our house but these got lost behind a box!
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3. You Buy Too Much
I can be guilty of this. When there are only the 2 of us most of the time (DD2 is away at university) why is my grocery budget for 2 often blown out of the water? Because I buy too much.
I struggle to pass up a ‘bargain’. Bargain means either a reduced price item that needs to be frozen straight away or a buy one get one free offer.
Problem is, we eat roughly the same amount of food regardless of what we buy (pigging out days excepted!).
So when I buy more either my freezer stores mount up or I run the risk of throwing away food. Approximately one third of all food in the world produced for humans is wasted. How shocking is that?
I don’t want to add to that figure so keeping control on how much I buy is important.
Check out my post on how to reduce food waste to keep your wastage to a minimum: How To Save Money By Cutting Your Food Waste To A Minimum
4. You Buy One Use Products
These days you can buy a huge range of convenience products and I don’t mean food. Products that are one use only so use and bin them. But they come at a cost.
Products such as paper towels, kitchen wet wipes and dryer sheets. All perform a function that years ago was performed by products that you washed and reused.
Or didn’t use at all in the case of dryer sheets because people didn’t have tumble dryers they used something else – a clothes line.
Instead of constantly buying one-use products you should invest in their long life replacements which will save you money in the long run.
Products such as:
Microfibre cloths – I’ve been using these for years instead of paper towels and wet wipes
Silicone Storage bags – I use these instead plastic bags as a long term and eco friendly alternative
Outdoor clothes line – dump the dryer sheets and the tumble dryer and dry for free instead, even on cold days
Indoor airer – as above but I use one of these inside on wet days. Remember to create an air flow with an open window.
There are some one-use products that you probably will keep on using, like toilet paper although you can of course use reusable towels for this as well.
Same as you can buy reusable nappies/diapers, you don’t need to buy disposable nappies. Although I do understand why you might, especially if you work outside of the home.
5. Your Empty Stomach Hits Your Grocery Bill
We’ve all done this, try and squeeze in the weekly shop on your way home from work when your stomach is empty and growling. Or when you are tired and hungry. But you do so at the risk of a high grocery bill.
When you are hungry you buy more, period. If your hungry times are the perfect time to go to the grocery store because of travel or general life then buy a snack as soon as you get to the store (or plan ahead and take one with you).
A health snack of a couple of pieces of fruit won’t send your grocery bill sky high but will keep the hunger pangs at bay and allow you to shop according to your budget.
6. You Can’t Steer Clear Of Convenience Food
You will always pay a premium for food items that mean you have less to do in the kitchen.
You can buy sliced and chopped vegetables, even sliced onions. But you will pay more for these products than their whole equivalent.
Spend the extra 5 minutes it takes to chop a few vegetables each night and take convenience products off your food shopping list.
Related reading: 18 Things We Cut From Our Food Shopping List To Save Big Money
7. You’re A Sucker For Premium Brands
Have you ever seen advert after advert for the value range of your local grocery store? No. And you won’t because adverts and marketing cost money. Money that gets added onto the price of the products.
Whereas premium brand adverts are on TV every day. Premium brands such as:
I am sure these products taste great but at sometimes double, triple or even quadruple the price of the stores own brand or value range, that taste comes at a price.
Many products are made by one factory who produces the same product for both the premium brand company AND all the grocery stores.
Sometimes there are tiny differences in the product and sometimes there really is no difference in recipe at all. Check the ingredients list and compare if you don’t believe me!
Grocery own brands are great value for money and invariably taste just as good. Maybe a little different but good just the same.
Occasionally there are products where you prefer the store brand to value range or premium brand to store brand. But you only get to know this if you check out the other ranges and try them.
Related reading: 30 Of The Best Frugal Foods To Buy When You’re Broke
8. You Use Your Local Grocery Store As A One Stop Shop
Grocery stores don’t just sell groceries. These days you can also buy clothes, electrical items and garden equipment to name just a few.
But buying these items from your grocery store instead of shopping around for the right product at the right price means you will pay a premium for them.
Convenience costs. Yes it might be convenient to pick up a new watering can when you buy your groceries but you will likely pay more if you do.
9. Not Planning Ahead
If you don’t go shopping with a plan of what you are not only going to buy but also what meals you will be making in the coming week then you will end up with a high grocery bill.
Without a meal plan and shopping list you will be wandering around the store looking for things to buy that might make a meal. This is fatal to your purse, believe me.
If you don’t check your store cupboards for food you already have, you can end up buying duplicates that you just don’t need.
Focus on cheap and easy meals to make the most of a small budget.
10. You Shop Too Often
It’s very easy to say you are popping to the shop for just one thing. But all too often you come away with a bag full of groceries and £20 lighter.
When you know are spending too much, how you shop can be just as expensive as what you buy.
Your grocery bill average each week will drop significantly when you resolve to only go food shopping just once a week.
It helps you concentrate your mind on what you need to buy when you do go shopping and stops all those £20 top ups.
Getting Your Grocery Bill Average Right Down
When you need to cut your grocery bill focus don’t just focus on buying less foods. Focus on the things above and I guarantee you will save money.
If you are already not doing any of the above (go you) then these bonus tips will also help you make savings on your groceries:
- Stick to tap water as your go to liquid, buy a couple of beverages but not a huge range
- Don’t bring your kids and/or partner to the shops, go alone so you’re not distracted from your money saving mission (I’ve calculated that Mr2p always adds £10 to my grocery bill when he accompanies me – he’s not allowed to come very often!)
- Don’t rush through the store, take your time so you get exactly what you need at the right price
- Organise your food cupboard so things don’t go out of date before you use them
- Don’t overeat – many of us can easily do this and all food costs money
- Eat healthier by buying fresh ingredients instead of prepared meals
- Buy in season
- Beware BOGOFs (buy one get one free) and 50% deals – you don’t always save money you just buy more
- Buy reduced priced items (my favorite tip but comes with a health warning – don’t fill up your freezer with reduced priced items – you’ve still spent money and not eaten the food!)
With all these tips I am confident you will be able to slash your grocery bill. You just need to decide what you will do with all the money you will save!