Trim the fat from your grocery bill

Looking to save money on household expenses? Start with your grocery bill.

Here are eight ideas for reducing how much you spend on food.

  • Make a list. By deciding ahead of time what’s needed for upcoming meals, you’ll be less likely to buy on impulse.
  • Buy generic. Thanks to advertising and packaging, brand differences are often more perceived than real. Blind taste-comparison tests have shown that study participants often can’t tell the difference between well-known and generic brands. That’s especially true with staples such as salt, sugar, and other baking supplies. Be willing to experiment. If you try a product and aren’t satisfied with quality or taste, you can always purchase a more expensive brand on a subsequent trip to the store.
  • Go simple. Think salads, one-dish casseroles, and in-season fruits. You’ll avoid the trap of eating pre-packaged, less nutritious, and more expensive meals.
  • Pay with cash. Research studies show that paying with a credit or debit card lessens your perception of how much you’re spending. Pull actual currency from your wallet and you may find that impulse purchases aren’t as tantalizing. Stay within budget by bringing only as much cash as you need.
  • Shop at the edges. In many stores, the produce, dairy, and meat departments are located on the perimeter. Snacks, canned goods, and pre-packaged meals are stocked in the center aisles and toward the front of the store. Buy items mostly from the outside edges and your meals will be healthier and cheaper.
  • Scrutinize unit prices. Don’t buy items based on total cost alone. Instead, compare unit prices, which tell you the cost per a standard weight or volume. Larger doesn’t always mean cheaper.
  • Eat first, shop later. That candy bar or bag of potato chips won’t be quite as appealing after a full meal.
  • Try a different establishment. If you frequent a particular store out of habit, don’t be afraid to shop around.