How to save money by adding unique alternatives to your grocery routine

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How to save money by adding unique alternatives to your grocery routine
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The average American spends roughly $4,015 per year on “food at home,”  according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That breaks down to $334.58 per month — and that’s just for one person!

Of course, as a Clark.com  fan, you want to be smarter with your money than the “average American.”

You may know a thing or two about shopping sales and other grocery-saving techniques, but have you considered switching up your grocery shopping routine to include alternative sources?

The traditional grocery stores of your parent’s generation are great, but there are so many other great options available in today’s modern world — options that could bring your monthly food budget down to a reasonable amount.

Alternatives to try for super savings on groceries

Grocery Outlets

Whether you’re lucky enough to have a Grocery Outlet Bargain Market in your area, or simply an old style scratch-and-dent store, these shops can save you a significant amount of money.

I rely on bargains from my locally owned Grocery Outlet, and swing through mine every other week or so. Although the inventory varies widely, I can always find enough insanely cheap deals to justify the trip.

Ethnic grocery stores

You might assume that ethnic grocery stores are just for those cooking up exotic foreign meals, but that’s not the case (though you can certainly discover some delicious foreign delicacies!).

I used to pay $2.29 for five ounces of Trader Joe’s sesame oil. This “Kyoto” brand bottle is just $2.95 for a full 16 ounces! That’s $0.18/ounce, rather than $0.46/ounce. Yes, please!

I rely on Murakan brand rice vinegar for my famous homemade salad dressing but cringe at paying $5.69 from my local Kroger store. Instead, I’ll pick up a bottle for $3.95, and enjoy the savings. Paying $0.16/ounce. instead of $0.24/ounce. helps to keep my family’s food budget in check.

Dollar stores

Although you might want to shy away from certain items when grocery shopping at The Dollar Tree, others food products can be a terrific bargain. Note that these cans of diced tomatoes are the large 28-ounce size, and that the penne pasta bags are a full 24-ounces! Staples like dried beans and oatmeal are other healthy choices that will fill you up for next to nothing.

Bulk shopping

It used to be that you could only buy in bulk from health food stores, but times have changed. Now you can find you-scoop sections in traditional stores, and there are even a few bulk only stores.

As with sites like Hello Fresh and Blue Apron, buying in bulk allows you to buy the precise amount you actually need for a recipe. Even if the per-unit price is more than buying a standard package, you’ll avoid paying for food that would otherwise languish in the back of your fridge.

The key to saving money while bulk shopping is to be deliberate with the amount that you scoop into your bag, as it’s easy to accidentally overbuy.

Bonus tip: Check and see if your bulk store allows you to bring your own container for extra savings and zero waste.

No one shopping method is going to be the cheapest option 100% of the time, but with an open mind and some shopping creativity, you’ll be able to bring your food budget down to a number that would make Clark proud!

How to compare unit prices at the grocery store

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Katy Wolk-Stanley About the author:
Katy Wolk-Stanley, a.k.a. The Non-Consumer Advocate is a Portland, Oregon based RN and writer who describes herself as a utility bill scholar, library patron, laundry-hanger-upper and teenage boy wrangler. She’s been featured on The Today Show, The NY Times and The National Enquirer.
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