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Family unpacking groceries

Here’s a non-news flash for you: Groceries cost a lot of money! In fact, the average family of four spends more than $1,000 a month at the grocery store.*

That’s a lot of dough, but there are ways to save.

You can find tons of money savings tips online. Some of our favorite sites include cheapism.commoneycrashers and, for those of you who don’t like to clip coupons, kiplinger.

Tip #1. Make sure your “bargain store” really is.

You might have originally picked your typical shopping spot because it was the most affordable option. But that was then and this is now. Is it still a bargain? One easy way to find out: comparison shop online. Price out your current grocery list at your usual shopping spot and one other comparable option. How did your store do?

Tip #2. Balance convenience against cost.

There are days when popping into the local corner store or buying dinner at the deli counter will save your sanity. But if you slip into the habit of routinely shopping where a box of cereal costs $7 and your kids think dinner comes in a plastic box, you will pay the price.

And remember that just because you can buy something at a grocery store doesn’t mean you necessarily should. Things like lightbulbs and school supplies are usually where the grocery store makes the profit it can’t on perishables like milk and fresh produce.

Tip #3. Buy meat in bulk.

Does your family eat a lot of meat? Ask your local butcher shop if you can get deals on bulk purchases. Or, if you have a big freezer, investigate buying directly from a farm

you might be able to buy a “share” (say a quarter) of a cow. You’ll support a local farmer and create your own farm-to-table experience.

Tip #4. Investigate online. You’ll save time, and hey, time IS money! Plus, you can often find better deals. See what howstuffworks has to say about the benefits of online grocery shopping. As always, don’t assume things are cheaper online. Sometimes those sneaky algorithms will bump a price up after you’ve checked something out or purchased it a few times. Continue to compare prices over time.

Tip #5. Learn what warehouse stores are/aren’t good for. According to our buddies at frugalwoods, stores like Costco and Sam’s Club are great for buying certain things in bulk and they can be a good choice when you’re planning an event and will use a lot of something in a short time. But consider the shelf life of that giant container of coffee, Cheerios or cinnamon; will it stay fresh as you work your way through it? And do you find that you tend to overeat because you got a bargain? That could cost you in more ways than money!

We could milk this topic for hours, but we’ll leave you to investigate your own smart shopping!

*Figure is from 2014 and based on a “moderate-cost” plan

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