It can be shocking to get to the register at a grocery store and see the total cost climb with every ring of the scanner. You can blow through your weekly grocery budget in the blink of an eye. In 2023, the average cost of groceries per month has skyrocketed to a new high, and Americans are struggling to cover the bill.
Fortunately, there are many ways to cut the cost of what you spend at the supermarket and help keep money in your pocket. While it may not alleviate the burden entirely, there are many places that can help with the high costs of groceries and plenty of helpful tips to save money at the register.
Getting Low-Cost Groceries With Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
One of the most popular government assistance programs available is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or food stamps.
You can apply for food stamps online or in person. Beneficiaries of SNAP receive monthly benefits that can be used to purchase food at authorized food outlets. Most states distribute these funds through an electronic benefits transfer (EBT) card.
Each state is responsible for administering SNAP, so program requirements vary from state-to-state. Typically, a household’s gross income must be at or below 130% of the federal poverty line. Benefit amounts also vary depending on the state, household size and income.
Taking Advantage of Food Banks, Food Pantries and Meal Centers
When communities are dealing with food instability, local food banks and pantries often play an important role in addressing the issue locally. As more Americans across the country face food insecurity, food banks and food pantries can play an integral role.
Food pantries are individual sites that distribute food to those in need within a designated area. Typically, food pantries have dried foods such as rice and pasta, canned goods, and more.
Food banks, on the other hand, are usually larger organizations that focus on collecting and redistributing foods. In fact, many food pantries receive donations of canned goods and dried foods directly from a local food bank.
Meal centers can also help solve the food insecurity crisis. Often called soup or food kitchens, a meal center is a location where individuals can go to get a free or reduced-price cooked meal. Meal centers are organized by local communities and provide people in need with prepared meals instead of groceries.
Some religious organizations and other community-based food assistance programs have special programs to give away meals on major holidays. Some holidays that commonly include meal giveaways include Christmas, Thanksgiving, Eid, Easter, and more.
Reduce Your Grocery Bills by Using Coupons
Coupons can help you save a significant amount of money at the register. You can typically find coupons for snacks, dairy products, fruits, vegetables and more in your local newspapers and magazines. These coupons may offer a certain amount of money off a product or provide a perk, such as a buy-one-get-one deal.
Manufacturers’ coupons may also help you lower your grocery bills. These are coupons directly issued by manufacturers of food products and can be used at all types of grocery and food stores. Most coupons have an expiration date, but staying on top of your weekly coupon clipping can be very beneficial.
How Store Brand Alternatives Can Cut Your Grocery Bill
Finding a good grocery deal often involves comparing prices, both between stores and between brands. When it comes to cutting your costs at the grocery store to meet your budget, coming up with a game plan is essential. A good grocery shopping plan can help you save more and stay on track with your weekly grocery budget.
Most major grocery stores such as Costco, Walmart, Target, and more have their own brands for certain grocery products. Buying store brand groceries such as cereals, beverages, snacks, and more can help you save up to 20% on your groceries without needing to clip coupons or search for savings.
Even better, many of these store brands offer money-back guarantees. If you are not satisfied with the product, almost every store offers you a refund or an exchange for a brand-name product.
How to Get Discounted Food and Baby Formula With WIC
New parents and families who are struggling to find affordable formula and infant food may qualify for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, otherwise known as WIC.
Through this program, qualified mothers and families can get free or low cost healthy foods, nutrition education, breastfeeding support and community health service referrals.
Pregnant, postpartum and breastfeeding women, as well as infants and children up to age 5 may qualify for the program. Additionally, anyone interested in applying must meet the income limits established by their state or U.S. territory.
Plan your Shopping List Ahead of Time & Stick With It
One simple way to avoid overspending is to avoid impulse purchases. An impulse purchase is when you buy something you don’t need because you saw it while waiting in the checkout line or while shopping around for other products.
These extra purchases may not seem like a big deal but over time, the cost of these impulse purchases can add up.
You can often limit impulse purchases by making a shopping list ahead of time and sticking with it as closely as possible. Meal planning for the week can help you see exactly what you need to buy compared to what you want to buy.
Spending More by Stocking Up During Sales Can Save You Money
Buying bulk is a tried-and-true strategy for saving more money at the grocery store. Oftentimes, it is helpful to buy in bulk when products you regularly purchase go on sale. Non-perishable food items like beans, canned goods, nuts, grains, and other products can last a long time in your pantry.
When you find these items on sale, try to purchase a surplus (if you can afford it) to avoid spending more money in the long run. A good grocery deal on your favorite items can feel like hitting the jackpot.