7 Ways to Save on the Cost of Groceries

by David Bakke, MoneyCrashers

Most Americans simply miss the boat when it comes to saving money on groceries. For one, the monthly cost of providing food for your family is right up there with your rent or mortgage payment, so it is in fact a very significant expense. Secondly, there are just too many ways to reduce your grocery bill to dismiss the idea.

With the current state of the economy, you simply can't afford to ignore simple grocery saving ideas:

1. Clip coupons. This is far and away the best way to save on groceries. Taken to the extreme, coupons can reduce your grocery bill by nearly 80 percent! Buy multiple copies of the Sunday paper so you'll have more coupons to use, and find out when your grocer doubles them so you can shop on that day.

2. Include more fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet. Consuming a diet based richer in fresh produce than red meat or processed foods can reduce your overall bill. Find a farmers' market or farm stand in your area, and you'll discover that you can purchase produce at a price that beats the supermarkets.

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3. Use daily deal websites. Sign up for email updates from daily deal websites, such as Groupon or LivingSocial. Granted, you may have to sort through a few deals before you find one related to groceries, but once you do, you can certainly save. I've purchased half-off gift cards for Kroger, Whole Foods Market, and other grocers, which has significantly reduced what I pay for food.

4. Take advantage of a good deal. If you see an item you regularly purchase at a great price, stock up. This is especially true for items that keep well, such as rice, pasta, and beans. Just make sure you organize your pantry so you use them in a timely fashion.

5. Reduce waste. Consider organizing your refrigerator to ensure that you actually use up the items you save money on. It's great to get a significant discount on produce, but if it spoils in the fridge before you can use it, then you've wasted money. Organize the fridge into certain food categories so you know where everything is, and rotate older items to the front so they can be easily accessed.

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6. Consolidate grocery store trips. One thing many people don't realize is the fuel cost of taking multiple trips to the grocery store. The price of gas, although it has come down of late, is still significant. Therefore, create a list before you leave home, and do your best to limit your visits to the grocery store to once per week. That way, you can keep more gas in your tank, as well as save on the actual groceries.

When it comes to couponing, it's important to not go overboard. Only use coupons for items that you truly need, and don't get roped in by something that seems like a good deal. For instance, if you can save $1 on a name brand spaghetti sauce, even though it's still more expensive than a generic brand, don't make the purchase. Saving money on groceries is great, but losing money in the long run defeats the purpose.

What other ways can you suggest to save money on groceries?

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David Bakke is a contributor for Money Crashers Personal Finance where he shares tips for saving money on everyday expenses.

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