According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American family spends over $4,000 a year on groceries and that’s only going to increase. And while FirstBank has been known to pay for groceries, we can’t always be there. So here are several easy ways to save at the store without compromising your health. No coupons needed.

1. Skip the meat and deli section. Americans eat an average 271 pounds of meat per person annually, which translates to roughly $1,100 or more spent on meat a year for one individual. That’s a lot of meat — and money. Meat isn’t only one of the most pricier items at stores, but meats, including processed (e.g. bacon, sausages, sandwich meat) and red meat, are one of the leading causes of diabetes, cancer and heart disease in America according to Harvard School of Public Health and the World Health Organization.

Meat production is also one of the main contributors of CO2 emissions, water pollution, and deforestation because livestock produces tons of waste and requires way more food, water, land, and energy than plants. To put it mildly, meat is pricey to produce, buy and it’s a big factor in our declining environment. So do your conscience, health, wallet, the animals and world a favor and try going sans-meat for most of the week. You’ll have nothing to lose (not even protein). And you’ll have everything to gain…maybe even an extra $1,100.

2. Know when to shop. Here’s an interesting secret: most grocery stores release their weekly sales on Wednesdays. What’s more, clearance items usually get stocked on shelves in the early morning hours or late hours, meaning this might be the best time to hit up the bakery and produce departments to get drastically reduced items before they expire. Also, try to shop only once a week to save on gas and prevent yourself from buying that chocolate cake you did NOT need.

 3. Get a Raincheck. Missed out on discounted items? Most stores will offer you a “raincheck” if a product is on sale, but it’s sold out. Whenever the product is back in-stock, you can still purchase it at the discounted price. That’s pretty cool, eh?

4. Use the smaller cart. Some industries have their tricks when it comes to motivating consumer behavior. For instance, fast food restaurants use warm colors to stimulate your appetite — along with hard, uncomfortable seats to encourage you to leave quickly. With grocery stores, it’s big carts. Studies have found the bigger the cart you have, the more you’ll buy, so go small. More importantly, stock your cart with needed staples first like fresh fruits and veggies, leaving less room for junk or other impulse purchases.

 5. Avoid middle shelves. Premium brands and higher priced items are strategically placed at eye-level. That’s no coincidence. Lower-priced, generic brands can usually be found on the upper and lower shelves, and guess what? They’re often just as good as the brands with the pretty packaging.

 6. Weigh your dairy options. Milk and cheese can be expensive, and unfortunately, too much dairy may be bad for your health. Luckily there are several inexpensive plant-based options, many of which have more calcium, more protein, and less sugar than dairy. Plant-based milks are also free of IGF-1 hormones ( the natural growth hormone found in all dairy products – organic, non or grass fed), which are largely tied to forming cancer cells in humans. Another bonus to plant-based milks in addition to being lower costing and healthier? They usually have a longer shelf-life than dairy milk, adding to extra savings.

7. Reconsider K-Cups. Yes, they’re nifty and super convenient, but did you know K-Cups cost five times more than getting coffee from a pot? Mathematicians at New York Times actually crunched the numbers and found out that K-Cup coffee costs $50 per pound. Considering you can buy coffee for $6, $7 or $8 a pound, it doesn’t take long to see that’s a lot of money (and plastic) wasted. If you love your one-cup-coffee pours then consider buying a full bag of coffee grounds and using a reusable K-Cup filter.

8. Listen to upbeat music. It’s probably no surprise that many stores and supermarkets use slower-paced music in hopes you’ll spend more time and money there. In fact, a Milliman’s supermarket study found sales were 38% higher on days they played slower background music. Slower music = higher sales, so try not to get entranced by the crooning sounds of jazz or Celine Dion’s pipes (seriously…is “My Heart Will Go On” on permanent repeat at grocery stores everywhere?). Throw on your headphones, put on your favorite workout tunes and you’ll likely blast through the store without picking up any unnecessary products.

9. Steer clear of precut produce. We get it: precut produce is super convenient. But they’re also 50-75% more costly than whole produce and less nutritional. Why? As soon as veggies and fruits’ cell walls are cut, they lose their natural vitamins/nutrients every several hours, even if they are properly packaged and refrigerated, according to a New York Times report. So opt for the less expensive and more nutrition-laden whole produce, even if it means a little more work.

One comment on “Nine Secret Ways to Save Money on Groceries

  • This is an awesome article. I didn’t realize the fact that precut produce, like strawberries for example, are way more expensive and lose their nutritional value quickly. I was big on buying precut strawberries in a cup and munching on them in the car. I’m buying them by the box from now on. Thank You!

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