Nowadays, with our fast-paced way of living, most people buy their food, cleaning supplies and toiletries at supermarkets. This makes sense since supermarkets are easily accessible, convenient, and often they offer a lot of great deals. However, it is also worth noting that supermarkets are also highly sophisticated marketing environments, designed in a way that encourages spending. Thus, if you are starting a frugal lifestyle, you need to be careful while shopping at the supermarket. The trick is to take advantage of the convenience, variety and great deals offered by supermarkets, without falling prey to frivolous spending pressures. There are several steps you can take to maximize your savings and convenience: plan ahead, compare the prices at supermarkets, and use up your coupons.
The first two steps, plan ahead and compare supermarket prices, are complementary. Planning your food consumption ahead is beneficial for two main reasons – it prevents you from overstocking on perishables and wasting food and it allows you to analyze which supermarket offers the ingredients you will need at the best price-to-quality ratio. Both of these will have an immense effect on your food and toiletries expenditure. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the average American family of four wastes $2,275 worth of food per year! This is a completely unnecessary expense that can absolutely be avoided with a bit of care and planning ahead. If you need even more motivation, then think of the total monetary costs of handling this waste and the environmental damage that is caused by it!
Planning your food
consumption ahead is also a great way to control what you buy and eat. For example, if you do your shopping while you are hungry and with no specific shopping list, then you are much more likely to make impulsive buys or resort to unhealthy shacks, frozen pizzas and other fast food. Whichever way you look at it, there are plenty of reasons why you should take the time and pay more attention to your supermarket spending. It begins with planning ahead, and once that is done the next step is to compare supermarket prices.
Why should you compare supermarket prices?
Nowadays, it is very easy to do so online, from the convenience of your home. Online tools allow you to enter all the items you will be putting in your shopping basket this week and then they give you a fairly accurate approximation of how much that basket would cost at various supermarkets. These tools even allow you to do your shopping online, thus saving you time as well, but if you aren’t comfortable buying food online then you don’t have to use that feature. Since this is such a convenient way to consistently save some money on food, toiletries and cleaning products, you should definitely take the time to look at the different prices at various supermarkets.
If you are living a frugal lifestyle, it is important to not only compare supermarket prices across different supermarkets but also across brand categories. Most supermarkets offer great variety in terms of branding for a lot of products. Usually, you will find premium, branded, own brand and value versions of a lot of consumer products. There is always a significant difference in price among the different versions, but not necessarily so in terms of quality.
While the branded products will probably be the same in all of the bigger supermarkets, the own brand and value versions are probably going to be different. For the biggest savings, it is really worth taking the time to sample the cheaper versions of the products you use often from various supermarkets. Especially in the case of snacks, sweets, pastas, toiletries and cleaning agents you should be able to find cheaper alternatives that are just as good as the branded ones. Nowadays, there are even online communities which rate the qualities of cheaper own brand versions against the branded version, so you can benefit from the analysis without testing all the different versions yourself.
Lastly, using coupons for your supermarket purchases can also help you lower your expenditure on food. There are many websites which provide printable and online coupons for all kinds of products, but mostly for supermarket purchases. You can also look in local newspapers and the Sunday paper, which comes with three different coupon inserts on a regular basis. You can plan your food spending ahead and then try to find coupons for the ingredients you need at the supermarkets available to you, or you can first research what kind of coupons are available for the next week and plan your meals around that, whichever way is more convenient for you. And very soon you will realize that when you plan ahead, compare supermarket prices and use coupons, you will be more mindful of supermarket spending and you will enjoy considerable savings week after week.