In February, the cost of food at home — meaning groceries — was up 10.2% from a year prior, according to that month’s Consumer Price Index. In March, food at home costs were only up 8.4% on an annual basis.
The fact that grocery prices are dropping is a very good thing. Food is an essential expense, so it’s something that’s hard to cut back on. And for months on end, consumers found themselves racking up sky-high credit card bills just to feed their families.
While we’re not out of the woods with regard to elevated food prices, at least now, there’s some relief to be had. But that doesn’t mean you can’t do anything to lower your grocery bills even more. Here’s how.
1. Buy the right items in bulk
Buying groceries in bulk is a good way to lower your costs. And you don’t need to be a member of Sam’s Club or Costco to take advantage of bulk-buying opportunities. Chances are, your local supermarket has different items available in bulk quantities, too. And you’ll commonly find bulk snack items and non-perishables on Amazon.
But if you’re going to buy food in bulk, prepare to follow some ground rules. First, only buy items you’re familiar with and use regularly. It’s okay to take a chance on a five-ounce bag of spiced cashews with a $4 price tag, but you don’t want to buy a bulk bag for $19 if you’re not sure you’ll enjoy the taste.
Also, pay attention to expiration dates and make sure you have the storage space for whatever it is you’re buying. It could make sense to purchase a massive tub of cottage cheese if your kids eat it daily and you’re confident you’ll finish it before it goes bad. But if your fridge is already filled to capacity, you’ll need to be careful.
2. Look to discount grocers
Some people steer clear of discount grocers like Aldi because they’re known to carry off-brands, as opposed to well-known ones. Now, if you have a household of picky eaters, you may want to stick to the brands and items you know. But otherwise, shopping at discount grocers could save you a lot of money on food, because you’re not paying extra for fancy labels and marketing costs.
3. Actually read the circular
How often do you immediately throw out the weekly supermarket circular that comes to the door? Rather than toss it right away, carve out a few minutes to actually read through it. You may discover a host of bargains at your local grocery store you wouldn’t have known about otherwise.
Let’s say you normally buy yogurts for your kids at $1.50 a pop. If those yogurts are on sale for $1 this week and you have the fridge space, buying 10 means saving yourself $5, just like that.
Now that food is getting a little less expensive to buy, ideally, more consumers will be able to better stretch their budgets and stop raiding their savings accounts just to feed their families. But it’s worth taking these steps to try to lower your food-related spending even more.
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