Tips for grocery shopping on a budget

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You’ve probably been to the grocery store recently and noticed that you pay more for a lot of items that you buy regularly, like bacon or cereal. Across the country, food prices have increased, with statistics from the Bureau of Labor showing a 0.3% increase in food prices in grocery stores and supermarkets from July to August 2021.

Rising prices for groceries are the result of a number of different factors, from extreme weather events to increasing global shipping costs to shortages of materials used for food packaging. In fact, food companies like Tillamook and General Mills have already announced that they will pass price increases on to consumers.

For many Americans, rising prices in everything – on groceries, gasoline, cars, homes, and electronics – means they need to become more savvy when shopping. Select spoke to two bloggers about budget food and compiled some of their top tips for saving money while grocery shopping.

1. Be aware of the “shrinkage”

Food companies have more than one way to deal with rising costs, and one proven tactic is “shrinkage,” where the company reduces packaging while keeping the price the same. On Reddit thread r / shrinkflation, complaints abound regarding shrinking maple syrup jugs and cereal boxes, in fact, Tillamook has announced that it will reduce the size of its ice cream carton without changing the price.

Since most consumers pay attention to the price of an item and not the price by weight, you might be spending more on food but getting less without even realizing it.

Erin Chase, a $ 5 Dollar Dinners blogger, recommends people pay close attention to the price per ounce or per pound listed on the store label so you don’t just assume that bigger items or store brands are always cheaper.

People also need to be aware of the other marketing pitfalls companies use to sell their products, Chase says. Items placed at eye level are often more expensive because companies pay extra for this space. Don’t go to the grocery store with the intention of buying the first items you see. Take the time to compare prices before placing items in your shopping cart.

2. Buy less meat

There has been a dramatic increase in the price of meat, poultry and eggs, which increased by almost 16% from August 2019 to August 2021. The rise in meat prices was caused by many factors different, including intense heat and droughts that have killed the hay that cattle eat and wage increases for workers in meat processing plants.

If you spend more on meat than on other food categories when you shop, there is an easy way to lower your bill: buy less meat.

Meat is often the most expensive part of the meal, says Chase. Reducing your meat intake can be as easy as implementing a few meatless days a week or using less meat in your recipes.

You can use half the amount of meat required in the recipe or substitute with cheaper ingredients, suggests Beth Moncel, blogger at Budget Bytes. For the ground beef, add beans, lentils and / or mushrooms. For the chicken, add white beans and additional vegetables

If you’re not interested in cutting back on your meat intake but still want to save some money, you can also find meat sales at your local grocery stores and build your meal plan based on what’s in store. on sale that week, explains Chase.

3. Plan ahead

Grocery stores are set up to encourage people to spend more and spend on impulse – from the seasonal produce you pass as you walk in to the cheap chocolate bars and crisps lining the aisles of checkouts. In order to avoid these impulse purchases, you need to plan what you want to cook this week and what you need to buy.

“Pick at least one or two recipes that you know you’re going to be making this week, put them in your schedule so that you can hold yourself accountable and actually plan to have time to prepare them,” says Moncel.

Then when you go to the grocery store, make sure you have a list of what you need and stick to it. When you have a meal plan in mind, you’re less likely to wander aimlessly trying to figure out what to buy. And make sure you never shop on an empty stomach.

4. Use an app to save money

Cutting the coupons you receive in your Sunday newspaper seems like a thing of the past, but thanks to apps like Ibotta and Rakuten, consumers can receive discounts or cash back on their grocery purchases.

Ibotta and Rakuten both offer discounts on groceries purchased from national chains like Walmart and Target. You can receive discounts on items purchased in stores or online, so you can use it however you shop.

Moncel and Chase both recommend the Flipp app, which allows customers to enter their location and find coupons and sales for grocery stores in their area.

Ibotta

  • Cost

  • How to save

    Activate cash back offers and cut digital coupons to get cash back on purchases.

  • How to use it

    Download the Ibotta app or browser extension.

  • How to receive your savings

    Redeem cash back rewards once you reach $ 20 as a deposit to your bank account, PayPal account, or for gift cards.

Rakuten

Information on Rakuten has been independently collected by Select and has not been reviewed or provided by the company prior to posting.

  • Cost

  • How to save

    Get cash back rewards on qualifying purchases, automatic coupons, and price comparisons.

  • How to use it

    Buy on Rakuten.com, the Rakuten app or install the browser extension.

  • How to receive your savings

    Cash back is granted every 3 months by check or PayPal payment.

5. Use a grocery store rewards card

American Express Blue Cash Preferred® Card

On the secure American Express site

  • Awards

    6% cash back in U.S. supermarkets up to $ 6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%), 6% cash back on select US streaming subscriptions, 3% cash back in stores US gas stations, 3% cash back on public transportation including taxis / carpooling, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more and 1% cash back on other purchases. Cash back is received in the form of reward dollars which can be redeemed as a credit on the statement.

  • Welcome bonus

    Get a $ 300 credit on your statement after spending $ 3,000 on purchases with your new card in the first 6 months.

  • Annual subscription

    $ 0 annual start-up fee for the first year, then $ 95

  • Intro APR

    0% for the first 12 months on purchases, N / A for balance transfers

  • Regular APR

    13.99% to 23.99% variable

  • Balance transfer fees

  • Foreign transaction fees

  • Credit needed

If you’re looking for a card with no annual fee, you might consider Freedom Flex or Freedom Unlimited, as both offer a grocery store benefit for the first year of card membership.

Cardholders can earn 5% cash back on their grocery store purchases (excluding Target® or Walmart® purchases) up to $ 12,000 spent in the first year.

If you want a card with rotating categories, you should go with the Freedom Flex, but if you want a card with a fixed refund rate, the Freedom Unlimited offers 1.5% cashback on all qualifying purchases.

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

  • Awards

    Earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (excluding Target® or Walmart® purchases) up to $ 12,000 spent in the first year, 5% cash back on trips purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3% on meals (including take-out) and pharmacies and 1.5% on all other purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    $ 200 cash back after spending $ 500 on purchases in the first 3 months after opening the account

  • Annual subscription

  • Intro APR

    0% for the first 15 months on purchases

  • Regular APR

    14.99% to 23.74% variable on purchases and balance transfers

  • Balance transfer fees

    Either $ 5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater

  • Foreign transaction fees

    3% of each transaction in US dollars

  • Credit needed

Chase Freedom Flex℠

  • Awards

    Get 5% cash back on grocery purchases (excluding Target® or Walmart® purchases) up to $ 12,000 spent in the first year, 5% cash back on up to $ 1,500 d ” combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate (then 1%), 5% discount on travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3% discount on meals and at pharmacies, 1% discount on all other purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    $ 200 cash back after spending $ 500 on purchases in the first three months after opening the account

  • Annual subscription

  • Intro APR

    0% for the first 15 months on purchases

  • Regular APR

    14.99% to 23.74% variable

  • Balance transfer fees

    Either $ 5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater

  • Foreign transaction fees

  • Credit needed

For pricing and fees for the American Express Blue Cash Preferred® card, click here

Editorial note: Any opinions, analysis, criticism or recommendations expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the editorial staff of Select and have not been reviewed, endorsed or otherwise approved by any third party.

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